Carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting is a nice twist on a classic. There is citrus everywhere, orange inside, lemon outside.
This is a special cake because it comes from my friend, Kristina. We met studying kung fu in California, went to Paris together, and she made my bridal shower food, and stood at my wedding coordinating everyone’s steps, which included 5 children. Somehow we lost contact, as I moved to Nashville and she got married and moved to Seattle. Facebook brought us back together, and food and our dogs will keep us together. If anyone lives in Long Beach, we could be spotted at the Coffee Cup Cafe on Saturday mornings eating the best breakfast in the world. Out of all the restaurants I could miss in the LA area, I miss that one the most.
This is my very first carrot cake, and it delivered everything a good carrot cake should. Moist crumb, spicy flavor, nutty bites. We did NOT use raisins, but you could add those in. And, the lemony cream cheese frosting was just right, not too lemony but enough to know it’s there. And, my mom brought lemonade, which I loved because when I get on a flavor kick, I want it in everything.
In keeping with my citrus cravings, my contribution to the recipe was orange zest tossed throughout the sugar, ala Dorie Greenspan, and I made up my own cream cheese frosting, adding in lots of lemon because I’ve been in the most lemony mood.
DC, a serious carrot cake lover, claims it was the best carrot cake of his life.
- 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 ½ cups grated carrots (pat to remove moisture)
- 1 ½ cups chopped toasted walnuts (dust with a little of the flour so nuts suspend better in the batter)
- ¼ cup finely chopped toasted walnuts for topping
- zest of one orange
- 12 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 5 tablespoons butter at room temperature
- lemon zest and juice of one lemon
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Grease and flour two or three cake rounds (I used 2)
- Grate carrots (I used food processor)
- Sift together all dry ingredients
- Add zest to sugar, mix with hands
- Whip oil and sugar together until light
- Add eggs to sugar mixture
- Add flour to sugar mixture in batches, mix thoroughly
- Add carrots and walnuts
- Pour evenly in prepared cake rounds, bake immediately
- Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees
- Mix lemon zest powdered sugar, set aside
- Mix cream cheese and butter
- Mix in powdered sugar
- Add juice of lemon
- Add 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Cover with plastic, so that plastic is touching frosting, if you are not going to use immediately. Best if used within 30 minutes or you can refrigerate until you are ready to frost. Make sure to bring to room temperature before frosting.
- Even out the top of the cake. I like to place the cakes in the freezer for about 15 minutes prior to frosting.
- Take out of freezer, and frost a crumb coat, frosting very thing layer of frosting on the cake just to catch the crumbs. Put one layer on top of the other. Place back in refrigerator for about 10 - 15 minutes, to harden. Then frost the whole cake.