carrot top

I was raised on ‘I Love Lucy’. I remember rummaging through row upon row of VHS tapes, reading the backs to see which one held the 3 episodes I desperately needed to watch right away. Lucy getting into mischief, Ricky finding out and furiously shouting at Lucy, Lucy doing her classic diagonally slanted moan as she realizes she’s in trouble…..and the classic kiss-and-makeup ending.  At the hub at this Lucy frenzy is my mother, who’s recent 50th birthday party prompted the purchasing of the entire I Love Lucy series on DVD, which takes up the space of a cereal box. That box of VHS tapes is still in my mom’s garage in case nostalgia kicks in and we have to watch it the good old fashioned way, the same way this cake was a nostalgic nod to so many years spent cuddled up on the couch, talking and laughing with Lucy. And what other way to celebrate my mom’s love for Lucy, the famous carrot top, than with a classic carrot cake. I searched for a cake that would cut clean and not crumble, something with a bright flavor (thank you orange juice and golden raisins) and some depth to it (ginger steps up to the plate!). And I’ve had this icing recipe on the shelf just waiting for a reason to try it out—-it pairs great with the cake and has a light, creamy texture that is less sugary and heavy than traditional cream cheese icing. So next time you crave a classic carrot cake, give this recipe a go. It’s a classic amped up a notch, both in presentation and flavor.

ginger-orange carrot cake
adapted from Cottage Living

1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup golden raisins
cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
cups unsalted butter, softened
cups sugar
4 large eggs
¼ cup milk
2 cups finely grated carrot
tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup fresh orange juice
zest of one orange (1 TBS)
  • Preheat the oven to 375. Line 2 greased 9″ round cake pans with parchment paper on the bottoms, and grease over the top of the parchment lightly.
  • In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed and add in eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Add milk and half of the flour mixture, mixing well. Add in the rest of the dry mixture and mix until the batter is smooth.
  • Stir in orange zest and juice, vanilla, grated carrot, nuts, and raisins. Divide batter evenly into the pans. Bake for 40 minutes, or until no longer jiggly in the middle and golden brown.
  • After baking, allow to set in the pans about 10 minutes before attempting to remove. Then place your hand on top of the cake, flip the pan and remove. Peel off parchment and flip cake right side up onto the cooling rack. Repeat for the other cake. Allow to cool before assembly to ensure a solid cake and to prevent melting the icing. Once assembled, refrigerate until time to eat! (I think this cake is perfect when it is still cold)


whipped cream cheese icing

16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • Beat the cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream to nearly stiff peaks, then add the whipped cream into the cheese mixture and quickly and briefly beat to combine. Do not over beat.

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