Honestly, I did not like this at first, but as I ate it over a few days, it definitely grew on me. I think it took me some time to warm up to the orange flavor - it was definitely strong, and I remedied this by adding "orange" to the title. Of course, you can add less orange zest (or leave out entirely) for a more traditional carrot/spice flavor.
Note: This is a very dense, textural carrot cake - there are chunks of pecans and carrot throughout, and even the cake itself is a bit heavy. Honestly, my favorite thing about carrot cake (aside from the cream cheese frosting, of course) is the texture, so I didn't mind this at all. But if you want a lighter/smoother carrot cake, this may not be for you.
Chunky Orange Carrot Cake
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 3 large carrots, coarsely grated (about 3 packed cups)
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 teaspoon orange zest (or to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Cut parchment paper to fit in the bottom of two 9" or three 8" round cake pans. Grease or spray the pans (including the parchment liners), then dust with flour.
- Melt the butter and combine with the sugar in a mixing bowl.
- Mix in the vanilla and eggs until incorporated.
- Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and add half of this to the batter; add the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour mixture, stirring after each addition.
- Stir in the cinnamon and allspice, then the carrots, pecans, and orange zest. Mix by hand until well-combined.
- Pour evenly into prepared pans.
- Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes (the time is the worst part for me and recipes - I just bake "until done" and take a peek every once in awhile - I suggest you do the same).
- Frost with cream cheese buttercream, recipe below!
Basic Cream Cheese Buttercream
- 2 8oz packages of cream cheese
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Beat together the cream cheese and butter until combined and fluffy.
- Add powdered sugar, a little at a time to avoid a powdery explosion, and continue to beat until you have a creamy/fluffy consistency. You can add more or less sugar depending on your taste and how thick you want the frosting to be.
- Beat in the vanilla until combined.