What better for Easter dessert than carrot cake? I’ll freely admit I love carrot cake and am happy for an excuse to make it; Easter’s one of those rare times when I whip up a big fattening dessert and don’t worry about it. There are usually some other folks willing to eat most of it and I can send leftovers home with children. All right, I do keep a bite or two for Dave and I to share on Monday. There’s a link about making the bunny cake, though it’s fairly obvious, and if you make the cupcakes, let the kids decorate them with the cream cheese icing and jelly beans. They’re pretty on a big tray filled with Easter “grass.”
Disclaimer: I decorate about one cake a year, so forgive my cake. I do always have fun doing it, whether for adults, kids, or a mix. This old-school bunny method has been around for decades and is simple and easy for children or for anyone who doesn’t have cake decorating skills or equipment. Icing, jelly beans, licorice whips, and food coloring-dyed sweetened coconut are all you need..
(below: Miss Gab and Tucker all ready for Easter. Miss Gab wanted a bonnet I refused to buy.)
Note: This recipe has shown up on the blog before, but it bears repeating. It comes from our housekeeper at Woodlawn Plantation –where I worked years ago — Grace Herson. If we had someone special coming for dinner at Woodlawn, Grace made carrot cake. When I left, the women in the house wrote a cookbook for me. Grace’s addition was this cake.
Grace’s Carrot Cake
Warnings: This cake, while totally delicious, is prone to a sink hole at its center for the 9×13 or 2 9″ layer versions. Fill it with icing and no one’s the wiser. After years, I still can’t fix the problem.
UPDATE: The hole in the center problem can be helped by either grating the carrots by hand and pressing out extra moisture with paper towels or grating them with the food processor and letting them dry for 30 minutes on sheet pans and then pressing out extra moisture with towels. (See photo at bottom of post.) The problem evidently comes from the weight of the extra water in the carrots.
The cupcakes easily run over and sometimes have a hole, too. Don’t overfill the cupcake tins and, if they still over run, scrape them each back off the tin carefully and remove to cool on rack. Trim, cool completely, then cover with icing!
makes 1 9×13 cake, 2 9″ layers for one bunny cake+, or about 24 cupcakes
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs (I use extra large at altitude or add an extra egg.)
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I use Canola now)
3 cups grated carrots (blotted dry w/ towel if you use food processor or the extra liquid will make the cake sink-which it may do anyway.)
1 cup chopped walnuts
Icing: 8 ounces cream cheese, 4 Tablespoons softened butter, 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. (If you make cupcakes, use 350 F.)
Cake: mix dry ingredients together and add eggs, oil and mix well. Add carrots and nuts and mix well again. Turn into greased 9x13x2″ pan or scoop into cupcake tins* and bake 45-55 minutes for cake, 25-30 for the 9-inch pans, and about 20 minutes for cupcakes or until a toothpick stuck in middle comes out clean. Cool well in pan, if making the 9×13. Remove cupcakes from the pans and cool on racks. For 9-inch round pans –used for bunny cake — let them cool in the pans about 10 minutes before turning out onto racks to cool completely. Bang pans soundly on the counter before tipping out.
Ice all cakes when completely cooled, piping icing onto cupcakes and topping with a bit of tinted coconut and 3 or 4 jelly beans, if desired.
Refrigerate if not eating that day. Cake freezes very well for up to one month.
*I like muffins and cupcakes baked right in the greased tins so that the cake batter hits the hot metal directly for a nice crust instead of steaming in the paper liners. If you’d like to use paper liners, which many bakers do, please feel free.
+The two nine-inch layers form the bunny: one layer is her body and the other layer is cut into three pieces that form the two ears and the bow tie. See Bunny Cake directions below.
Icing: Beat cream cheese and butter together very well for 2 minutes. Slowly add powdered sugar (or you’ll have a big mess). Beat in vanilla and whip icing until very smooth.
Here’s what my 9×13 cake looks like with my oh-so-artsy carrot at center. (Just draw a carrot with greens freehand with a toothpick and fill with orange frosting for carrot and green for the greens.)
Sing a new song,
below: drying out the shredded carrots.