Curly Carrot Cake
Happy Easter weekend, friends! I hope this post finds you relaxed and well rested in the lead up to the chocolate-fest that Easter always is. Today I wanted to share with you a recipe that’s been lingering around the blog archives since 2016: Curly Carrot Cake. I recently had the opportunity to make this again for Boyfriend’s dad’s birthday – carrot cake is his fave – and I thought I’d update the post while I was at it. Unlike my other revamped blog posts of yore, nothing about this recipe needed tweaking or updating. The only difference I’ve made was to add a step-by-step photo guide and slightly better photos. Shall we?
When I initially shared this post in March 2016 – Easter was earlier that year – it was kind of last minute. I had a whole post about Raspberry Sea Salt Brownies already lined up, but panicked and postponed it when I realised Easter was fast approaching. I tossed around a few ideas for Easter baked goods and settled on making an emergency carrot cake. For the next 48 hours after this decision, I was consumed with carrot related thoughts. I believe it was something like this:
I don’t want to make a boring old loaf cake. Something layered? Maybe four layers would be good – extravagant, but good. Definitely cream cheese frosting; no need to mess around with a good thing. But how to decorate the top? Something different, but not too different. Are candied carrot curls a thing? Would they even taste nice? Etc., etc.
And so, this Curly Carrot Cake was born. A four-layered take on everybody’s favourite Easter cake, lathered with cream cheese frosting, and garnished with a pile of candied carrot strips.
why make curly carrot cake
Other than the fact that it’s the perfect Easter dessert? Let me break it down for you.
• the cake itself is incredibly moist and delicious. There are plenty of carrots and apple sauce in the cake, so it stays super moist for days after it’s been baked.
• it doesn’t have that overwhelming taste of cinnamon that many store bought ones do. There’s only one teaspoon of cinnamon in the batter – enough to make the cake feel cozy and warm, but not enough to overwhelm every other flavour.
• the super smooth cream cheese frosting is literally the best ever. It’s creamy and oozy in all the right places – it ticks all of my boxes. If you leave it in the fridge it firms up a bit, but it warms back up to perfection once it’s been out for a little bit.
• the candied carrot curls! I’m sorry but aren’t they just the cutest cake decoration ever? They’re surprisingly delicious and they make the whole cake POP! And honestly, once you get into the hang of making them they’re so easy!
how to make curly carrot cake
Shall we? Step by step photos below!
part i: make the cake
The ever important mise en place.
• dries: flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. The cake is loaded with veggies so we need extra raising agents to lift it uppp. Cinnamon for warmth.
• fats: eggs, melted butter, and apple sauce. If you’re skeptical of the apple sauce, don’t be! It enhances the moistness of the cake.
• sugars: a mixture of light brown and caster because we’re after a deeper flavour.
• extras: carrots, grated and drained, and vanilla extract. I will forever and always be using Homemade Vanilla Extract – it packs such a stronger punch.
This recipe starts out the exact same as countless others: the oven preheating and two 6-inch cake tins greased and floured.
In a small bowl, we whisk all of our dry ingredients together. I went for a slightly too small bowl and regretted my choice instantly.
In a medium bowl with an electric whisk, beat together the sugars and eggs until light in colour and homogenous.
Add the melted butter and vanilla extract to the bowl and beat until combined. I don’t have a before picture of this because my butter and vanilla sank to the bottom of the bowl as soon as I added them, but it’ll be slightly thicker looking after incorporating.
Add your dry ingredients to the bowl, and use a rubber spatula to fold them through. It’s okay if they aren’t 100% incorporated into the batter just yet. Add the grated carrots + apple sauce and fold them in. When you’re finished folding, everything should be fully incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly between the two tins, bake in the preheated oven for 35/40-minutes, and relax. The cakes will be deeply golden brown in colour and lusciously fragrant. Now, we leave them to cool: 15-minutes in the tin, then entirely on a wire rack.
part ii: make the frosting
Frosting mise en place: butter, cream cheese, icing sugar, and vanilla extract. It took me a good 5-minutes to sift my icing sugar back into a fluffier and less clumpy mass – the things we do for cake.
Beat together the butter and cream cheese until pale and fluffy.
Add the remaining two ingredients, beat – and we’re done! I like to keep my frosting in the fridge until I’m ready to use it.
part iii: make the candied carrot curls
Mise en place: carrots, water, and sugar.
This part is obviously optional – the cake would be delicious even without the candied carrot curls – but I truly hope you don’t skip it. They’re truly not that hard to make when you get going and it’s worth the effort in the end.
Add the sugar & water to a pot, and bring it to a boil on the hob. Preheat the oven to a low 100C temperature, and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Using a vegetable peeler, slice the carrots into long strips. Add the strips to the sugar syrup, reduce to a simmer, and leave for 15-minutes. Some of the strips will break apart in the pot, so it’s better to put in more than you plan to use. I ended up with about 1/3 less strips than I started with, but that’s okay because I was ready!
After 15-minutes the carrots will be slick and sugar coated. Stretch them out on the prepared tray and bake for 20-minutes. The baked strips will be tacky to the touch and semi-translucent.
This next bit is the tricky part. Working with one carrot strip at a time: peel it off the tray, gently wrap it around the handle of a wooden spoon, hold for a few seconds, and then slide it off onto a cold plate. I set up my plate and wooden spoon as near to the oven as I could get and kept the door half open. The carrot strips start to dry out pretty fast, so this needs to be done as efficiently as possible – be sure to prioritize the better ones.
part iv: assemble
Time to put it all together!
Slice each cake layer in two, so you end up with four layers total. I always use a cake leveller, but you could just use a sharp knife and a steady hand.
Pop one of the layers on the serving plate, top with some of the frosting, and use an offset spatula to evenly spread it around. Repeat with the remaining layers. I like to use an ice cream scoop as my frosting measurement so that I know I’m putting the exact same amount between each layer – but you do you.
When you’ve used all the cake layers, spread a thin layer of frosting around the whole cake and place in the fridge for 15-minutes to firm up. This is called a crumb coating and will stop any crumbies from ruining the look of the finished cake. When firm, spread the remaining frosting evenly around the edges and the top of the cake. Smooth the frosting over with an offset spatula, and top with the candied carrot curls.
This is the moment I like to stand back and admire my work. Or more specifically, beg Boyfriend to hold it up so that I can admire it.
And so there we have it, friends: Curly Carrot Cake!
Happy Easter! xo
Curly Carrot Cake
for the cake
- 180 g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3 large eggs
- 170 g caster sugar
- 100 g light brown sugar
- 150 g salted butter, melted but cool
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250 g finely grated carrots, drained
- 150 g apple sauce
for the cream cheese frosting
- 100 g salted butter, at room temperature
- 300 g full fat cream cheese
- 195 g icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
for the candied carrot curls
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 2 large carrots, peeled
for the cake
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, and grease + flour two 6-inch cake tins. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, use an electric whisk to beat together the eggs and sugars until fluffy & light in colour. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract, and continue to beat until fully combined.
- Add the dry ingredients into the batter and use a rubber spatula to fold it in until the mixture is just combined.
- Add the carrots and apple sauce to the batter & use the spatula to stir together until just combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two cake tins & bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for 15 minutes in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
for the cream cheese frosting
- In a medium bowl, beat the butter until pale & fluffy. Add all of the other ingredients, beat until smooth, and place in the fridge until ready to use.
for the candied carrot curls
- Preheat the oven to 100°C & line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Use a vegetable peeler to peel thin long strips of carrot – the longer the better; they’re easier to curl!
- In a medium pot, bring the sugar & water to a boil. Add the carrot strips, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15-minutes. Remove from the heat, drain the carrots, and leave to cool for 5-minutes.
- Stretch the carrot strips out on the prepared baking tray and bake for 25-minutes, making sure they don't burn.
- Working very quickly and carefully, remove the carrot strips from the tray one by one & wrap them around the handle of a wooden spoon before sliding off onto a cold plate. Repeat with the remaining strips. They start to get cold very quickly, so this need to be speedy but efficient work.
- Using a serrated knife, cut each of the cake layers in half, giving you four even thin layers.
- Place one layer of cake directly onto the cake stand, spread a layer of frosting smoothly across the top of the layer, and repeat until you've used up all the layers.
- Spread a thin layer of frosting all around the cake, place the whole thing in the fridge for 15-minutes ( the crumb coat ), and then it comes out use the remaining frosting to properly frost the outside of the cake.
- Pile the candied carrot curls on top of the cake and enjoy!
Did you make this recipe? I’d love to know! Please leave a comment & a rating below, or tag me on Instagram @imvcki. Thank you so much for supporting Passionate Baker!
**POST UPDATED APRIL 2021