The olive oil supports the warm flavors of this moist, luscious carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. There is yogurt in the mix as well, for added tenderness.
I was surprised a few months ago when we turned on The Great British Baking Show, my brother, who hadn’t seen the show before, really got into it.
Dick found the competition was friendlier, nicer. That might be one of the many reasons why I love the show. The enormous white tent that says nothing but fun, party, “get over here immediately,” might also have a persuasive affect. For sure the English accents work it. Just so jolly nice.
And the recipes, of course, the big challenging recipes that home cooks go after with total focus and enthusiasm. But somewhere along the line, the English emphasis on particular flavors in their baking had a sticking point for the brother.
The ginger, the cinnamon, the warm-spice emphasis. The orange, the raisins. All ingredients that lead to semi-sweets that my brother has a way of casting into the “wow, just delicious (NOT)” category. He has a hard time believing anyone truly likes these flavors. You can imagine the uprising when our other brother, Tom, always requested spice cake for his birthday cake growing up.
I have some sympathy for Dick’s categorical denial. I have my strong opinions on these matters as well. My NAIS (No Apples In Summer) policy . . . my give-me-chocolate-or-give-me-nothing priorities.
But then there is carrot cake. I protest in defense of that one. Peggy makes a moist, cream cheese buttercream-laden sheet cake that knocks the socks off of anyone lucky enough to get a square.
The English would call it a Tray Bake. Peg calls it a “dump cake” for its ease of preparation. I call it Luscious Carrot Cake with Olive Oil, a twist I made by using olive as the oil to healthy the cake up just a tiny and to compliment the cake’s other warm flavors. I also add yogurt, because I always have some at the ready and yogurt always imparts such tenderness in baking.
For the buttercream, I’ve auditioned labneh in place of the cream cheese and the swap just doesn’t meet expectations of the original. So I’ve left that alone, for now.
We won’t even think about what Dick would call this carrot cake. I fear “will you categorize this recipe in the Vegetables section?”. Besides, I suspect if we blindfolded him and forced a bite sight unseen, he would find it in him to get it down.
Olive Oil Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the carrots, sometimes I buy pre-shredded and then give them a good chops so they're a little finer. Otherwise, run the carrots through a fine grate in the food processor. If you like nuts in your cake, add a cup of toasted chopped walnuts or pecans to the batter. Serve the cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle caramel sauce over everything, if you want to get fancy.
For the cake:
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups finely grated carrots
- 1 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 cup coconut (sweetened flaked or dessicated)
- 1/2 cup raisins
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 13 x 9 x 2 -inch metal cake pan with olive oil and dust evenly with flour, tapping out any excess flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. In another bowl, whisk the olive oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, yogurt, vanilla, and eggs. Stir in the flour, then add the carrots, pineapple, coconut, and raisins. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden and the cake springs back when touched in the center. Cool completely.
For the frosting, by hand or using a mixer, beat the cream cheese with the butter until smooth. Add the vanilla and 1/3 of the confectioners' sugar and mix until combined. Add the remaining confectioners' sugar (on low speed if using a mixer), and beat until smooth.
Spread the frosting on the cake using an offset knife or back of a large spoon to create deep swooshes. I like to leave the perimeter of the cake with no frosting so the cake can peek through. Chill the cake to set the frosting before serving.