Most carrots in grocery stores are orange, but you may have noticed that carrots have started to come in many colors. Rainbow carrots – a convenient term to refer to multi-colored carrots – come in purple, red, yellow and white, as well as orange. They were once only available at farmers markets, but have become so popular that even regular grocery stores often carry them now. The carrots often seem strange to shoppers seeing them for the first time, but they can be used just like regular carrots – only they make things look a lot more colorful!
This Rainbow Carrot Cake is a twist on a classic, made using a variety of different carrots. I used purple, dark red/orange and yellow carrots in this particular cake. In addition to being packed full of carrots, the cake is flavored with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla. Many carrot cakes use brown sugar, but I used all white sugar in this carrot cake because I wanted the color of the carrots to stand out after baking, and the finished cake is light enough that you can see flecks of orange, green (purple carrots lose some of their color as they bake) and yellow throughout.
The finished cake is moist and tender, with a tight crumb. It’s a little bit lighter in texture than some carrot cakes because I am not a fan of overly “wet” or heavy carrot cakes. You can use any kind of carrot in this recipe, of course. The rainbow carrots don’t give the cake any additional flavor by the time it has finished baking, so you won’t miss out by substituting plain old orange carrots. The colorful carrots are fun to work with, however, and definitely turn a classic cake into a conversation starter!
The cake keeps well for several days when stored in an airtight container and is relatively low in fat (except for the cream cheese frosting) when compared to many other carrot cake recipes. It can be doubled to create a two-layer cake, and the small batch of frosting can also be scaled up. I garnished the cake with a few chopped, toasted pecans to give it a nice finished look, but you can skip them if you’re not a nut fan and garnish the cake with shredded coconut, a dusting of ground cinnamon or just leave it as-is.
Rainbow Carrot Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk (any kind)
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8 round cake pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vegetable oil, milk, orange juice and vanilla until well combined. Pour into flour mixture and stir until everything just comes together and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Stir in shredded carrots until evenly distributed.
Divide evenly into prepared pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center of the came comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached.
Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the cake and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. Peel off parchment paper.
When cake has cooled, transfer to a cake stand or serving plate and top with a generous layer of cream cheese frosting. Decorate cake with pecan halves, if desired.
Cream Cheese Frosting for Single Layer Cake
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
4-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1- 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, beat together butter, cream cheese, milk and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until frosting is thick and smooth, but still spreadable. Spread onto cooled single-layer cake.
Makes enough for the top and sides of a single 8 or 9-inch cake