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John Barricelli's Carrot Cake

This eclectic cake has traditionally included a little bit of everything: flour, nuts, buttermilk, and carrots. John Barricelli, resident baker on "The Martha Stewart Show" and a cohost of "Everyday Food," adds to that list candied carrot strips and fresh ginger and orange zest in the cream cheese frosting for enchanting results.

  • yield: Makes one 8-inch layer cake

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted plus more for pans
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 cup (3 ounces) pecan halves
  • 1 pound large carrots, peeled
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Candied Carrot Strips

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Dust with flour, and tap out any excess. Set aside. Spread pecans in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan, and toast in oven until lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand until completely cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Finely chop pecans and set aside.

  2. Step 2

    Using the smallest holes (less than 1/4-inch in diameter) of a box grater, grate carrots, yielding 2 1/2 cups. Place carrots, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, and ginger in a large bowl; mix until well combined.

  3. Step 3

    Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until combined. Fold in the butter and toasted pecans.

  4. Step 4

    Divide batter between the two cake pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove pans from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack; let stand until completely cool.

  5. Step 5

    Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes so surfaces are level. Slice each layer in half crosswise. Place a layer on a cake stand or cardboard round, and spread 3/4 cup frosting over top. Place a second cake layer on top, and spread with another 3/4 cup frosting. Repeat with third layer and another 3/4 cup frosting. Place last cake layer on top, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of assembled cake. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill 3 to 4 hours.

  6. Step 6

    If using the candied carrot strips, set a wire rack over a baking pan. Using fingers, lift one candied carrot strip from the sugar syrup, holding it over the container. With the thumb and forefinger of second hand, gently squeeze the carrot strip and slide fingers along its length, removing as much excess syrup as possible; lay the carrot strip on the wire rack. Repeat with remaining carrot strips.

  7. Step 7

    Gently place tapered end of drained carrot strip in center of cake, and gently press it down the side; place a second strip next to it. Continue applying strips around entire cake every 2 inches. Form 2 or 3 strips into a decorative bow, and place on top. Cut cake, and serve.

Source
The Martha Stewart Show, September 2005

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Reviews (30)

  • EllyKonjkav 22 Apr, 2014

    This cake is absolutely amazing!! Every time i make it, everyone raves about how amazing it is.
    I especially love the Frosting. So so good. And the Candied carrot strips makes such a unique presentation. It is a ton of work but truly worth it.

  • Heidi France 22 Nov, 2012

    I don't know how this recipe only has three and a half stars. I am an avid Carrot Cake baker, it is my favorite, and after years and years of baking different recipes- John Barricelli's is by FAR the best (as recipes go with 'no pineapple'). I love the fact that he uses melted butter instead of oil- I have tried it both ways and the butter just has a better flavor. I suggest this recipe!

  • blazingswordofword11 14 May, 2012

    Baking for a friend's picnic wedding reception. Wanted a really scrumptous cake to freeze ahead of time. This was it! Made it into 2 8-inch square pans and will use Rose'Levy Beranbaum's Neoclassic Buttercream with Cardamon and Ginger in it. It should be awesome! Can't wait to make the icing. But the cake is just great without the icing. You could also use just a glaze on it. But this cake is a keeper!

  • jerseysuek 22 Dec, 2011

    Totally Bummed!!! Don't know what I did that is different. Cake was very greasy. I thought that the 3 sticks of butter was a mistake but used them. Only ate a few pieces of the very outside of the cake and got a stomach ache. I love cake, but not this one. Did loved the flavor of the fresh ginger and made the candied carrot strips. I'll have to do another cake recipe in the morning so I can try the candied carrot strips on it. Really nice look.

  • melgirl 19 Jan, 2011

    This recipe is fantastic! I made this exactly as written except I was running low on butter, so I used 1/2 cup vegetable oil along with the 2 sticks of butter in the batter. This was my first time baking with fresh ginger and it made all the difference (smelled so good) and was inexpensive. I will keep this recipe for the special occasions. BTW My husband loved the frosting and he does not do desserts.

  • XENAPONY 9 Oct, 2010

    First carrot cake I ever made! So good and so easy. I didn't bother with candied carrot strips though and I made one modification to the frosting, where I only used 1

  • misstinda 27 Jun, 2010

    This was my First carrot cake and it was Perfect, Moist and Aromatic.
    I made some few changes though. After Browsing on Baking Soda and realizing that It was Bitter I never used it so I left out the Buttermilk and used 2 1/2 Tsp Baking powder. I never had Pecans so I chopped up Almonds to small bits and added them instead . Thanks to my fear of loads of sugar I didn't frost it, Just sprinkles some granulated sugar and grated some dark chocolate on it. It was PERFECT!

  • kdpotter 8 Apr, 2010

    I loved this recipe. I just tried it out on my family for Easter and it was a HUGE hit. It is so delicious. Dense and flavorful. I used 3 cups of sugar at the suggestion of other comments and it was perfect. I made mine into a two layer cake because it had to travel 200 miles to my in-laws place. It was a very sturdy cake and traveled well. I just chilled it well in my cake dome and it was still cool when I put it into their fridge 3 hours later.

  • kdpotter 8 Apr, 2010

    I loved this recipe. I just tried it out on my family for Easter and it was a HUGE hit. It is so delicious. Dense and flavorful. I used 3 cups of sugar at the suggestion of other comments and it was perfect. I made mine into a two layer cake because it had to travel 200 miles to my in-laws place. It was a very sturdy cake and traveled well. I just chilled it well in my cake dome and it was still cool when I put it into their fridge 3 hours later.

  • kdpotter 8 Apr, 2010

    I loved this recipe. I just tried it out on my family for Easter and it was a HUGE hit. It is so delicious. Dense and flavorful. I used 3 cups of sugar at the suggestion of other comments and it was perfect. I made mine into a two layer cake because it had to travel 200 miles to my in-laws place. It was a very sturdy cake and traveled well. I just chilled it well in my cake dome and it was still cool when I put it into their fridge 3 hours later.

  • kdpotter 8 Apr, 2010

    I loved this recipe. I just tried it out on my family for Easter and it was a HUGE hit. It is so delicious. Dense and flavorful. I used 3 cups of sugar at the suggestion of other comments and it was perfect. I made mine into a two layer cake because it had to travel 200 miles to my in-laws place. It was a very sturdy cake and traveled well. I just chilled it well in my cake dome and it was still cool when I put it into their fridge 3 hours later.

  • kdpotter 8 Apr, 2010

    I loved this recipe. I just tried it out on my family for Easter and it was a HUGE hit. It is so delicious. Dense and flavorful. I used 3 cups of sugar at the suggestion of other comments and it was perfect. I made mine into a two layer cake because it had to travel 200 miles to my in-laws place. It was a very sturdy cake and traveled well. I just chilled it well in my cake dome and it was still cool when I put it into their fridge 3 hours later.

  • kdpotter 8 Apr, 2010

    I loved this recipe. I just tried it out on my family for Easter and it was a HUGE hit. It is so delicious. Dense and flavorful. I used 3 cups of sugar at the suggestion of other comments and it was perfect. I made mine into a two layer cake because it had to travel 200 miles to my in-laws place. It was a very sturdy cake and traveled well. I just chilled it well in my cake dome and it was still cool when I put it into their fridge 3 hours later.

  • kdpotter 8 Apr, 2010

    I loved this recipe. I just tried it out on my family for Easter and it was a HUGE hit. It is so delicious. Dense and flavorful. I used 3 cups of sugar at the suggestion of other comments and it was perfect. I made mine into a two layer cake because it had to travel 200 miles to my in-laws place. It was a very sturdy cake and traveled well. I just chilled it well in my cake dome and it was still cool when I put it into their fridge 3 hours later.

  • kdpotter 8 Apr, 2010

    I loved this recipe. I just tried it out on my family for Easter and it was a HUGE hit. It is so delicious. Dense and flavorful. I used 3 cups of sugar at the suggestion of other comments and it was perfect. I made mine into a two layer cake because it had to travel 200 miles to my in-laws place. It was a very sturdy cake and traveled well. I just chilled it well in my cake dome and it was still cool when I put it into their fridge 3 hours later.

  • kdpotter 8 Apr, 2010

    I loved this recipe. I just tried it out on my family for Easter and it was a HUGE hit. It is so delicious. Dense and flavorful. I used 3 cups of sugar at the suggestion of other comments and it was perfect. I made mine into a two layer cake because it had to travel 200 miles to my in-laws place. It was a very sturdy cake and traveled well. I just chilled it well in my cake dome and it was still cool when I put it into their fridge 3 hours later.

  • kdpotter 8 Apr, 2010

    I loved this recipe. I just tried it out on my family for Easter and it was a HUGE hit. It is so delicious. Dense and flavorful. I used 3 cups of sugar at the suggestion of other comments and it was perfect. I made mine into a two layer cake because it had to travel 200 miles to my in-laws place. It was a very sturdy cake and traveled well. I just chilled it well in my cake dome and it was still cool when I put it into their fridge 3 hours later.

  • QueenLolaGirl 17 Feb, 2010

    This recipe is incorrect. In the video they use 3 cups of sugar but the printed recipe says to use 2. The correct amount of sugar is 3 cups NOT two. I tried making it with 2 just to see and it definitely needs the extra cup.

  • QueenLolaGirl 17 Feb, 2010

    This recipe is incorrect. In the video they use 3 cups of sugar but the printed recipe says to use 2. The correct amount of sugar is 3 cups NOT two. I tried making it with 2 just to see and it definitely needs the extra cup.

  • soapylulu 11 Sep, 2009

    I'm going to give these a try as cupcakes.

  • Sweetestgirl 19 Jun, 2009

    i'm sorry which one is it 2 cups of sugar as told in the recipe or 3 cups as said in the video? help!

  • foodiefafa 14 Jan, 2009

    I love this cake. It has become an easter tradition.

  • JoyfulDesignerGirl 4 Jan, 2009

    OH MY GOODNESS!!! I baked this cake for this pass Christmas 2008, and it was absolutely perfect. It was SO GOOD! Everything was correct in it's place; every ingredient. This was actually my first time doing a carrot cake from scratch, and this recipe definitely leads you right. Thanks Mr. Barricelli. I received great compliments on this cake; and the frosting was oh so good also. It was fun, easy, and DELICIOUS!!! LOVED IT. I will most certainly cooked this again!

  • Renatka 3 Oct, 2008

    Well well well,ladies and gentlemans...this is the best tasting carrot cake ever...it`s very easy to put together and icing is yumi...try it!!!!

  • Chef_Kingston 5 Sep, 2008

    I am a professional Pastry Chef and I can be extremely critical. This is the best carrot cake recipe I have tried so far. The frosting is fabulous; there is nothing worse than a thick, gluey frosting that tastes like there's nothing in it but sugar and cream cheese. This frosting has a texture more like a buttercream, and the orange peel and ginger are subtle enough to make you go "Ooh!" without quite being able to put your finger on what the flavors are.

  • MargRobertson 28 Aug, 2008

    rquinnett I am sure it is right, as fresh ginger has a much lighter taste than dried ginger. You certainly wouldn't use that much dried ginger as it would become gingerbread instead with a very strong taste. I always use fresh ginger in recipes as it adds a lighter flavour but I also have to easily double the quantity used when I do.
    The dehydrating process for spices concentrates the taste.

  • rquinnett 29 Jul, 2008

    Is the recipe correct in stating that there is 2 T. of fresh ginger in both the cake AND the icing?

  • tiffanyburns 28 Mar, 2008

    Carrot Cake is my father-in-law's favorite so, looking for a new recipe, I made this for Easter. I kept a special last piece for me in the fridge and just ate it (1 week later) and it was still FANTASTIC and moist! The fresh grated ginger (especially in the frosting) makes it killer. Don't skimp on that detail by using ginger powder!

  • kelly9158 17 Mar, 2008

    This cake is a bit time consuming, but worth every minute!!!!

  • karencrewe 5 Feb, 2008

    This is my husband's favourite cake