Some cakes are classically bundt cakes. Others are classically layer cakes. Carrot cake is one that I would put firmly in the latter category. The cake is usually made to be very moist and very dense – a combination that doesn’t really make for an appetizing, tall cake. Shorter layers keep the cake from seeming too heavy and the addition of frosting to break up the rich spicy flavors is usually necessary. Fortunately for me, I’m not a fan of wet and heavy carrot cakes (without fail, I find them to be greasy and unappealing) and because I tend to make mine a bit on the lighter side, they work out extremely well in bundt cake form.
This carrot cake is very moist and tender, without being wet or heavy. One of the big differences between this and what we’ll call the “average” carrot cake recipe is that it doesn’t use oil. I far prefer butter because it adds flavor and always seems lighter in the finished cake. That said, I do want a carrot cake to have some more substance to it than some other types of cake, so I use melted butter in the recipe. The spices are the same that you’d find elsewhere – cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg – and while I’ve given amounts below, feel free to play around with the proportions a bit if you prefer more allspice or less cinnamon. I also used raisins in the cake and omitted nuts entirely. If you prefer, use half raisins and half chopped pecans, or simply use all chopped pecans if you’re a big nut fan.
The only warning I want to give with this recipe is that greasing and flouring the pan is crucial. The cake has a lot of sugar in it and the sugar caramelizes against the side of the pan during baking, making the outside of the cake not only dark, but sticky. It can be tricky to get the cake out in one piece (although do-able with a butter knife and some patience) if you forget this step.
Cream cheese frosting is pretty much the standard for topping off carrot cakes and I almost always use it when I’m doing a layer cake, sheet cake, cupcakes or other format of carrot cake. But I never use it with bundt cakes. At the risk of sounding like a bundt cake snob, I just don’t like the way that bundt cakes look when they’re covered in a thick frosting. It covers up the pretty ridges and lines of the pan and almost always looks a bit sloppy. This cake can be left plain and it will be delicious. I opted to make up a simple orange glaze to top it off, however. It brings out the orange flavor in the cake and gives the cake a nice finishing touch, visually, too.
Carrot Bundt Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup orange juice (fresh, if possible)
zest of one orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups shredded carrots (from about 4 large carrots)
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, butter, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla until smooth. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until almost combined. Stir in shredded carrots, followed by raisins. Batter should have carrots and raisins evenly distributed and no dry streaks of flour remaining.
Pour cake batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn cake out onto a wire rack to cool (cake will be dark on the outside from the caramelization of sugar against the pan; don’t worry if it looks a bit darker than you’d expect) completely before frosting.
Makes 1 cake. Serves 12-14.
1 tbsp butter, very soft
2 tbsp orange juice
1 cup powdered sugar
Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Add in a few drops more orange juice in the event that the frosting is too thick to pour easily.
Scrape glaze into a plastic bag and snip off the corner. Drizzle over finished cake (it is best to have the cake on a serving platter or on a wire cooling rack, where the excess can drip off if it runs down the sides of the cake) as desired.