Carrot Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

Total Time:
3 hr
1 hr 20 min
1 hr
40 min

8 to 10 servings

  • For the cake:
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 3/4 cups chopped walnuts
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup smooth applesauce
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated carrots (about 4 medium)
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 4 -inch piece ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 8 -ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9-inch-round cake pans with cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment paper. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then finely chop.

  • Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt onto a large piece of parchment (or into a medium bowl). Beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar and vegetable oil in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium high and add the eggs, one at a time; beat until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the applesauce, orange zest and vanilla and beat until just smooth. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add the carrots and 3/4 cup walnuts and beat until just combined.

  • Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 10 minutes in the pans, then remove to the rack to cool completely; remove the parchment. (The cake layers can be made a day ahead; let cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap.)

  • Make the frosting: Peel the ginger and grate onto a piece of cheesecloth. Wrap in the cheesecloth and squeeze the juice into a small bowl (you should get about 1 tablespoon). Add the orange juice and vanilla to the bowl. Beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the juice mixture. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until smooth, about 2 more minutes.

  • Place 1 cake layer on a platter, rounded-side down. Spread with 1 cup frosting, then top with the second cake layer, rounded-side down. Cover the top and sides with the remaining frosting. Press the remaining walnuts into the sides of the cake. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

  • Photograph by Con Poulos

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