For Jesse and Tara’s roommate Paul’s birthday, he requested a carrot cake with cream cheese icing. I have a great stand-by recipe, and it is one of my favorite cakes to make, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to make it for him.
There was a minor mishap because we used a pan that was too big for the amount of cake batter that we had, and our two layers of carrot cake were quite thin. Instead of stressing out about it too much, we decided that it was a great opportunity for us to make a third layer! Paul chose a lemon cake layer to go in between the two carrot cakes, and that sounded perfect!
I used a sponge cake recipe from Hannah Kaminsky’s My Sweet Vegan for the lemon layer, but I added a bunch of freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest. This layer ended up looking fantastic! The top was beautifully browned, and was crisp and crunchy, and had a lovely split in the top-center so you could see the lighter yellow cake underneath. However, when we cut into the finished cake to eat it, this layer was quite gelatinous. It seemed a bit undercooked, but unlike most raw cake batters it was the consistency of a heavy lemon custard, more like a lemon pie or something. I had been the recipient of a cake made from this recipe for sponge cake before, and it had worked out perfectly and was fluffy and beautiful…I had imagined that the added lemon juice this time would react with the baking soda and would puff the cake up even more. However, I think we either added too much lemon juice (so there was too much liquid overall) or else our baking times and temperature were incorrect. We hadn’t wanted to burn the top while baking so maybe we just had the oven temperature too high? It wasn’t what we had envisioned, but it still tasted nice anyway, especially with the cinnamon flavors in the carrot cake and the lemon zest that we added to the cream cheese frosting.
This is the crispy top of our lemon cake. Isn’t it pretty?Here is my carrot cake recipe. I’ve had it for years and it never fails to be moist and delicious! It’s easy to change it or put different mix-ins into it, depending on what flavors or textures you want. I’ve made it into many successful cakes and cupcakes and it’s always a hit! This makes a thick 9×13-inch cake, or else two 9-inch round layers.
2 1/2 mashed bananas**
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 Tblsp. vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrot
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon (or use mostly cinnamon and add a bit of nutmeg and ground cloves for added flavor)
Depending on what flavors I want, I often add liberal amounts of: chopped nuts, raisins, grated coconut, or chocolate chips.
**Sometimes I also replace some or all of the bananas with applesauce. I use a ratio of 1/2 banana = 1/3 cup applesauce.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans, or one 9×13-inch sheet cake pan.
Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet ingredients in another bowl. Combine and stir until just mixed.
Bake for about one hour but check often after cake has been in the oven for 45 minutes. It should be firm to the touch but moist inside.
Cream Cheese Icing Recipe:
*Note: Usually I just make it up as I go along, but this is a good starting point. On the top and sides of our cake, we used a basic cream cheese icing, and in between the layers we used a lemon cream cheese icing (we just added lemon zest and a bit of juice to the cream cheese icing we had already made).
Blend the following ingredients with an electric beater till extremely creamy:
8 oz. Tofutti cream cheese
2 Tblsp. Earth Balance (or other non-dairy margarine)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 cups powdered sugar (add until you get desired consistency)