BA's Best Carrot Cake
['Nonstick vegetable oil spray', '1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)', '3 tablespoons dark rum (optional)', '1 cup chopped walnuts', '1 pound carrots, peeled, coarsely grated', '1 cup buttermilk, room temperature', '2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour', '2 teaspoons ground cinnamon', '2 teaspoons ground ginger', '1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg', '2 teaspoons baking powder', '1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt', '3/4 teaspoon baking soda', '4 large eggs, room temperature', '1 cup granulated sugar', '3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar', '2 teaspoons vanilla extract', '3/4 cup vegetable oil', '12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature', '3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature', '1 teaspoon vanilla extract', 'Generous pinch of kosher salt', '4 cups powdered sugar', 'Candied Carrot Coins']
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat two 9"-diameter cake pans with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper rounds; lightly coat rounds with nonstick spray. If using raisins and rum, heat together in a small saucepan over low just until warm, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit until liquid is absorbed and raisins are plump, 15–20 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes; let cool. Combine carrots and buttermilk in a medium bowl.
Whisk flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until pale and thick, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and gradually stream in oil. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with carrot mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients; mix until smooth. Fold in raisins, if using, and walnuts with a rubber spatula. Scrape batter into prepared pans.
Bake cakes, rotating pans halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35–45 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cakes cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around sides of cakes and invert onto wire rack; remove parchment. Let cool completely.
Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla extract and salt. Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in powdered sugar. Increase speed to high and beat frosting until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Place 1 cake, domed side down, on a platter. Spread 3/4 cup frosting evenly over top. Place remaining cake, domed side down, on top. Spread top and sides with 1 1/4 cups frosting and chill 30 minutes to let frosting set. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides, swirling decoratively. Top with Candied Carrot Coins, if desired.
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