My dad’s birthday was celebrated in a cozy Mexican restaurant as my friend’s band strummed out dynamic Latin songs. I brought this cake for dessert and the plate was all but licked clean by my parents, our friends, and the restaurant staff.
This is my most requested birthday cake. It was a hit at my friend’s 25th birthday party, my dad’s 61st, and for my grandfather’s 96th. The cake itself is moist and delicious, while the icing is sweet, yet tangy from the cream cheese, pineapple, and citrus zest. You can make both the cake and the icing in advance and store them in the freezer, defrost in the fridge the night before the party, and bring to room temperature an hour or two before assembly. Leftovers of this cake (as if you’ll have any) freeze wonderfully. I like to include the nuts and raisins, as the crunch of the walnuts and the sweet chewiness of the raisins add a pleasant textural contrast to the soft cake, but feel free to leave them out if you so choose.
Ingredients – Cake
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrot – on the large hole setting (not peeled)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup raisins (preferably golden)
Instructions – Cake
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and flour two 8inch cake tins.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and vegetable oil with a hand mixer. You don’t have to use machinery, but it will help you make a lighter cake with less work. Add the eggs and blend until thick and fluffy (a good 30-60 seconds). Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the grated carrot, chopped walnuts, and raisins and mix. The batter will be very carrot heavy, which is totally normal as the carrots will meld into the batter as the cakes bakes.
Divide into the prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Ingredients – Icing – This makes exactly enough icing for one cake, but if you like a lot of icing or you want to make more and keep it in the freezer, feel free to double the recipe.
1 tub nut cream cheese (cashew/almond)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lemon or lime, zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 bag icing sugar (around 2 cups)
1/2 can crushed pineapple, well drained (or 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple)
Instructions – Icing
Combine the cream cheese, salt, citrus zest, and vanilla and whip using a hand mixer. Now add your icing sugar in very gradually. Once all the icing sugar is incorporated, add the drained pineapple, mix once more, and taste to see if it needs more salt or vanilla.
Cut the cakes in half, and ice in between each layer. I don’t like to do the sides since the cake is too moist, the icing is too soft and it just doesn’t hold up well. Ice the top of the cake and then sprinkle on chopped walnuts and raisins for garnish. Big pieces of dried coconut also look wonderful as decoration.