I don't often make my own celebration cakes. Not that I buy them. I prefer to offer a handsome pound cake or another confection that isn't either layered or frosted.
But a special guest came recently, celebrating a special birthday. So I pulled out a favorite recipe for carrot cake, which restaurateur Cary Wheaton gave me years ago. There is no better, moister, more delectable cake than this. Who can resist a spicy batter studded with flecks of carrot, walnuts, and raisins? Both cake and frosting are flavored with fresh orange rind, and the top is sprinkled with lightly toasted nuts. It keeps well (ha!), looks grand on the cake platter, and slices beautifully.
Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
Makes 1 large cake
You need a one-piece 10-inch tube pan to make this, or use an angel food cake pan with a solid, not detachable, base.
Butter and flour (for the pan)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
Grated rind of 1/2 orange
1 pound (4 cups) grated carrots
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup dark raisins
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a one-piece 10-inch tube pan. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Butter the paper. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.
2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger until blended.
3. In another, larger bowl, use a wooden spoon to stir together the oil, sugar, eggs, orange juice, and orange rind until smooth. Gently stir in the carrots, walnuts, and raisins.
4. Stir the flour mixture into the batter until it is blended. Pour the batter into the pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to settle any air pockets.
5. Bake the cake for 65 minutes or until the top springs back when gently pressed with a fingertip. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool.
6. Turn the cake out onto the rack. Invert a cake plate onto the cake. Turn the plate and cake right side up. Leave to cool completely.
1 large package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated rind of 1/2 orange
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted until browned and coarsely chopped
1. In a mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Gradually blend in the sugar until it is all incorporated. Beat in the vanilla and orange rind.
2. Tuck strips of waxed paper around the base of the cake so you don’t get frosting on the cake plate. With an offset spatula, spread the frosting all over the top and sides of the cake, making the frosting as smooth as possible. Sprinkle the top with walnuts. Remove the strips of paper.
3. Set the cake in a cool place for several hours for the flavors to mellow and the frosting to set. Sheryl Julian. Adapted from
What's cooking in the world of food.
ContributorsSheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.
Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.
Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.