When I was a kid, I never liked carrot cake. Well, to be honest, I never tried carrot cake. I actually loved carrots, and I definitely ate my fair share of cake. But I didn’t like the idea of carrots being in my cake. I mean, who in the their right mind would ever put vegetables in a cake? So I went many, many years without ever trying carrot cake. Then something amazing happened: I ate a piece of carrot cake and liked it. I have no idea what came over me, but for some reason I decided to be brave and give it a shot. And now it’s definitely a top 5 dessert option for me!
This cake is a 2-layer cake with a traditional cream cheese frosting. (Well, I did put a slight twist on the frosting by adding the brown sugar.) In fact, the rules for carrot cake are pretty flexible in general. Most baked goods follow pretty strict guidelines, but carrot cake doesn’t fall into that category. This recipe is what I consider to be pretty classic, but feel free to change it up a bit. For instance, you can substitute pecans for the walnuts or add a bit of crushed pineapple to make the cake extra moist. I’ve even come across recipes with canned pumpkin and chocolate. (Not saying I would personally make those versions…but the point remains that carrot cakes don’t have to follow many rules!)
One of my absolute favorite parts about this cake is the tiny carrots piped around the outside. These carrots are super easy to pipe, but they do require a couple of basic frosting tips. (Craft stores are an excellent place to pick up individual frosting tips.) Use a medium-sized round tip (I used a #8 tip) to create the carrot. Start by squeezing a bit harder at the top and then reduce pressure on the piping bag as you pull away. I definitely recommend practicing this technique a couple times on clean parchment paper. Once you’ve mastered the carrot shape, just scrape the frosting back into the bag. Once you have carrots piped around the cake, simple add a leaf to each by using a leaf tip (I used a #352 tip). Finally, you can dip a toothpick in cocoa powder and drag it across the carrot to create authentic-looking “dirt” lines. See the picture below for a guide on piping the carrots. They are quite easy to pipe with just a small amount of practice…and your family and friends will be quite impressed with your cake decorating skills!