Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Carrot Cake for Carrot Cake Lovers (and Haters) @LucyBurdette

 LUCY BURDETTE: I cracked myself up with the title for this post, because one of my favorite Key West characters is the Cat Man, Dominque, and his flying house cats. They put on a show every night at Mallory Square. All the while he's setting up his carriers full of cats and stools and rings, he's announcing in a funny French accent:

 "Cat show for cat lovers, in five minutes!"

So, "Carrot cake for carrot cake lovers, in five minutes"...but in this case, it's for carrot cake haters too:)

Jeff with our daughter Molly

Last week I described the recipe for the stuffed shrimp that I made for my son-in-law's birthday. The other special request he had was for carrot cake. Now I am not a big fan of carrot cake--in fact I had never made one. And if faced with a supermarket carrot cake, I will always pass a slice by. However, I do believe that the birthday person should have the homemade cake of his or her dreams. So I began to search for a recipe online, and also consulted carrot cake experts floating around on Facebook.

Most of the carrot cake recipes I read used oil instead of butter. While oil in a cake seems like sacrilege to me, I bowed to the majority opinion that in carrot cake, the oil helps the lightness and texture. In the end, I chose to make the cake with 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce. I also added pineapple and raisins and skipped the nutmeg while doubling the cinnamon.

I have to admit that the end result was delicious! (The cream cheese icing helps a lot...)

1 or so pound carrots, washed, peeled, cut into chunks
1 cup pecan halves, toasted
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
4 oz unsweetened apple sauce
2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup raisins, optional
1/2 cup crushed pineapple in juice


8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 oz butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
powdered sugar
 orange zest

Grind the carrots in a food processor until fairly fine. This should measure about 3 cups. Grind the pecan halves until fine. Set these ingredients aside. Preheat the oven to 350. Butter or oil a 9 x 12 inch pan.



In a large bowl, beat the two sugars with the oil and the applesauce. In a second bowl, combine the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and flour. In a third bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla. 

Add the dry and egg mixtures alternately into the sugar mixture, beating after each addition. At the end, stir in the carrots, nuts, raisins, and pineapple until well combined.


Pour this into the oiled pan. Bake at 350 for about 35-45 minutes until the top springs back when touched and a toothpick or knife stabbed into the cake comes out clean. (You will have to keep an eye on this.) Cool.    


Beat the cream cheese with the butter, orange zest, and vanilla. Gradually beat in sugar until it's the consistency you like. I used about 2 cups. Frost the cooled cake. 

Refrigerate, but let it sit out 30-45 minutes before serving. (Some bakers say the cake tastes better the second day, which is when we ate ours. Though it's a big cake, so we also ate it on the third day!)

Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries. MURDER WITH GANACHE will be out on February 4, but you can pre-order it now.

Follow Lucy on Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest! She loves it when you pin her stuff:)

And don't forget to enter the Goodreads giveaway for Murder with Ganache.

And oh heck, why not a giveaway here today too? Just share this post to Twitter or Facebook, and then let me know you've done so in the comments. Your name will be entered in the drawing--thanks! 


  1. I just shared on twitter (@Suekey12).

  2. That cream cheese frosting takes it over the top to pure deliciousness, doesn't it?
    I've posted this on FaceBook, as always.
    LOVE Murder with Ganache. A great read. Thanks

  3. Love the story of the Cat Man, Dominque, and his flying house cats. Great photo of you with him, as well, but it's the photo of your carrot cake square that I want to dive into. Looks delicious and what a great cake to feel good eating with all those healthy carrots and raisins and other good-for-you ingredients. Thanks for sharing and I'll be sharing on Twitter, as well! ~ Cleo

  4. I think this is a winner, Roberta/Lucy! I am not a fan of CC either, but this could change all that. I know it would be a hit with the birthday bunnies in my family.



  5. I'm actually hit and miss with frosting, but cream cheese frosting is always so good.

    My issue with carrot cake is that it usually contains nuts, and I'm allergic to tree nuts. (Peanuts are fine for me since they are a different family than tree nuts.) Of course, if I make the cake myself, I can just leave them out.

    1. You do have to be careful with nuts--my father was allergic to peanuts and had many near-misses over his lifetime !

  6. I haven't had carrot cake in years. I agree, the cream cheese frosting makes it . . . and I don't even like frosting most of the time. I shared this post on Twitter. Thanks for doing the giveaway!

  7. I've baked many carrot cakes, even did a whole dessert table full of them by request, for a wedding. This recipe sounds like a winner, a bit simpler than my old recipe. It's my husband's favorite cake. I shared twice.

    1. thanks Nancy--a whole dessert table full of carrot cakes?? were they all different?

  8. Hi Lucy, I just shared this on Facebook.

  9. That looks great! My hubby loves carrot cake so I will try this one Saturday. I shared on facebook.

  10. Shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google + . That cake looks soooo good!!

  11. Oh my - love the books and the food, and always looking for a good carrot cake, will be making this. Shared on FB. (

  12. all shared for facebook cooks and peter rabbit's a'twitter

  13. WooHoo! Shared on my Facebook page! Can't wait for the book!

  14. I love a slice of a great carrot cake! Shared on Facebook.


  15. I shared on Facebook and Twitter. I love carrot cake! And I do like carrots. And your books. Thanks!

  16. I shared on my FB of Missy Davis. Thank you for the opportunity to win. This is a fabulous series.

  17. I love this series. Shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest

  18. I shared on Facebook. The carrot cake looks and sounds delicious. I absolutely love this series. You rock!

  19. Shared on facebook. You are awesome.

  20. I love carrot cake. Haven't had it in ages. Must try this recipe!

    Daryl / Avery

  21. Shared on FB. Carrot cake is like pumpkin pie for me...once a year is enough for me. Wouldn't pick it as my birthday cake choice!

  22. I love the pineapple in carrot cake. It's amazing that those ingredients all go together to make something so delicious. You're a super mother-in-law! I totally agree about the birthday person having the cake of his/her choice! Next year, I'm coming to Key West when it's 0 degrees here, and I'm making up a January birthday!