The forkful of this Amish Carrot Cake transports me to my Grandma’s kitchen.
Her carrot cake was famous in our community. She would make it on the first Sunday of every month. The moist, dense, and sweet Carrot cake frosted with cream cheese was a delectable dessert we cherished and still do.
The Carrot Cake.
Most food historians state that carrot cake has its origin in Britain. During world war II, sugar and other sweeteners were scarce and therefore costly.
Housewives began to use carrots to sweeten their confectioneries. It is interesting how adversity has a sweet side too.
We wouldn't have had the delicious carrot cake. Carrots are sweet and contain vitamin A which enhances healthy skin and contributes to better vision.
This makes the carrot cake healthier as compared to many other cakes.
I was born and brought up Amish, my childhood is filled with cherished memories, oh the buggy rides and the Sunday lunches.
We worked hard in the farms and gardens. We grew most of what we ate. I loved wheeling the wheelbarrow filled with fresh carrots, turnips, pumpkins, squash, and leafy greens. Summer harvest was a beautiful time. We would have so much produce.
The women would always come up with ways of using up the garden produce creatively. One of the ways of using up garden produce was to make dishes such as pumpkin pies, zucchini chocolate cakes, and carrot cakes.
We were taught recipes from elderly women in our Amish order. It was critical to know how to cook. The men would come so hungry from manual labor on the farms and we girls were expected to make a lot of food to sort out the hunger pangs.
All of my sisters preferred sewing just like my mother did. You would always find me in the kitchen with my grandma.
Grandma ran a little bakery and taught me lots of Amish Recipes. She didn't have any electrical appliances as we do now, but she understood the science of mixing, and the results would always be delightful.
Over time, we moved to a less strict order in the Amish Church. We use modern conveniences such as electricity, telephones, and vehicles.
The culture and tradition are still ingrained in me, especially my culinary and gardening skills. Cooking and baking for fellow church members and our large families over the years made a majority of Amish Women very skilled cooks.
Why this recipe works
This Amish Carrot cake recipe was adapted from The Amish and Mennonite cookbook. I learned a few tips from watching my grandmother bake her classic Amish Carrot Cake.
The recipe calls for pantry staples and is very easy to make. Always use freshly grated carrots, add some crushed pineapples and pecans, and your cake will be very enriched nutritionally.
Let us discuss each ingredient in detail and how to make the recipe.
INGREDIENT AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Carrots are sweet vegetable roots. Carrots can be used in many dishes and the dishes made of carrots will always stand out.
They have a sweet taste, rich in fiber and moisture. Use raw freshly grated carrots in this recipe. Pre-shredded carrots contain a lot of moisture, excess moisture alters the moisture level in the cake batter.
Pineapples are my favorite fruit. This tropical fruit has a sweet, fruity, and acidic property giving you a very flavorful carrot cake. It's alright to use drained canned pineapples if you cannot find fresh pineapples at your local groceries.
Pecans bring in the aspect of crunchy texture. Pecans have a nutty and earthy flavor, a great addition to your Amish Carrot Cake.
You can substitute pecans with walnuts or almonds. If you add coconut and mashed ripe bananas, you will be making a close cousin of carrot cake known as the hummingbird cake, a very delectable South American dessert.
All-purpose flour works well in this recipe as compared to any carrot cake box mix.
Brown sugar and White granulated sugar
Sugar sweetens the cake batter, brown sugars add a beautiful brown hue as well as a distant molasses flavor.
Carrots and cinnamon anytime. Cinnamon adds a rich earthy, warm, and woody taste to the cake batter.
Baking powder and soda
Baking powder and baking soda react with the ingredients in the cake batter releasing carbon dioxide. The gas released makes the cake rise and increase in volume.
Eggs enrich the cake with protein, when beaten they increase in volume making the cake butter lighter.
Vegetable oil moisturizes the carrot cake, it is light compared to butter or shortening. This recipe requires oil because oil is light in weight. The cake batter is already heavy with carrots, pineapples, and pecans.
Good old salt balances all the other flavors in the cake.
Cream cheese has a mildly sweet and tangy taste. Cream cheese frosting on the carrot cake makes an excellent combination that is unmatched. I wouldn't try other frostings hehe…
Butter increases the fluffiness of the frosting.
Powdered sugar sweetens the frosting making it a little stiff.
Vanilla has a sweet, calm flavor elevating the deliciousness of the cream cheese frosting.
Measuring cups and spoons
Measuring cups and spoons ensure accurate measurement of ingredients.
Stand mixer or electric hand-held mixer
A stand mixer or electric handheld mixer will make the mixing process a little easier.
A rubber spatula scrapes down the sides of the bowl during the mixing as well as gets all the cake batter out into the baking pans.
Mixing bowls are needed for mixing the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately.
The choice of your baking tin depends on the type of cake you would want to have. If you want a layered cake (best carrot cake presentation), use two 8-inch round baking tins. A sheet pan, bundt pan or springform pan is great for a simple carrot cake too.
A food processor chops the pecans efficiently.
FAQ Amish Carrot Cake
How do I keep my Amish Carrot Cake from sinking?
If you want your carrot cake from sinking, keep your hands off the oven door until it is 75% into the baking time. When you open the door, cool air gets into the oven and affects the baking process.
How can I keep my carrot cake fresh?
Before you frost your Amish Carrot Cake, wrap it with plastic wrap and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
It will stay fresh for 5 days. Once frosted but not cut, it could stay fresh for 3 days. Once you cut it and it's frosted, store it in an airtight container for 4 days.
- Measure your flour accurately. Excess flour will affect the overall outcome of your carrot cake. The best way is to scoop the flour and level out excess flour with a bread knife.
- Study your oven temperature, and use an oven thermometer to monitor the temperature during baking.
- Resist the urge of overmixing once you fold in the carrots, pineapple, and nuts. Mixing the cake batter will activate the gluten strands in the flour making the Amish Carrot Cake tough and rubbery.
- For best baking results, use two baking tins for this amount of cake batter. When you fill a baking tin beyond half, the carrot cake will bake on the sides faster than the center. This makes your cake lose moisture on the sides as you have to increase the baking time.
Amish Carrot Cake
- 1 cup Brown sugar
- 1 cup White granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cup Vegetable oil
- 4 Large Eggs at room temperature
- 2 cups All-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon Baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon Baking soda
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 ½ cups Shredded carrots (3 - 4 Carrots)
- 1 cup Crushed pineapples
- ¾ cup Pecans
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 8 oz Cream cheese
- 1 cup Butter
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 3 cups Powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- Preheat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius, grease your baking tins, and line them with parchment paper
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour in the vegetable oil, eggs, and sugar. Beat using the paddle attachment until fully combined.
- Add the flour into the egg and sugar mixture one cup after the other. Scrap the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer base.
- Fold in the chopped pecans, shredded carrots, and crushed pineapples. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the carrots, fruits, and nuts.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking tins.
- Bake the Amish Carrot Cakes in the oven at 150 C/ 350 F for 30 minutes.
- Check if the cake is ready by inserting a toothpick at the center of the cake. The toothpick will come out clean with a little crumb because it is a dense cake.
- Let the baked cakes cool in pans on the wire rack for ten minutes. Remove the cakes from the pan to cool completely. Trim the top parts of the cake for perfect frosting.
- Prepare the frosting while the cakes are cooling.
How to make the Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a mixing bowl, sift the powdered sugar to do away with all the lumps.
- In another bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar and the salt until it's thoroughly mixed.
- Once the cakes are completely cooled, frost one of the cakes, and place the other cake on top of the layer of frosting. (Hold the two layers of cake with straws to keep the cake stable)
- Frost the top cake layer and garnish with chopped pecans.
- Let the cake chill overnight in the refrigerator, then slice it the following day.
- The cake tastes amazing when eaten the following day. The flavor intensifies and the cream cheese frosting is absorbed into the cake layers giving it a special rich taste. Serve the chilled Amish Carrot Cake as dessert.