There are many great carrot cake recipes out there. This one isn’t the easiest or quickest to make – but it packs a lot of flavor. I’ve added brown sugar to the cream cheese frosting along with a little orange zest – it really makes this cake sing.

Carrot Cake w/ Brown Sugar Frosting

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 pound large carrots, peeled & grated small

3 large eggs, room temperature

1/3  cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups sugar

1 1/2  cups vegetable oil

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2  teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1  teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Heat oven to 325°. Cut out two 9-inch rounds of parchment paper. Butter two, 9 X 3-inch round cake pans, add parchment rounds to bottom of pans and butter. Dust pans with flour, and tap out any excess. Set pans aside.

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, vegetable oil, and ginger in a large bowl; whisk until well combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cloves and cinnamon. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until combined.

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

Using a serrated knife, slice each layer in half horizontally. 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 the sides of the assembled cake. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill 3 to 4 hours.

Frosting

3  8-0unce packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Grated rind from one orange

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Pinch of salt

1 1/2     cups toasted chopped pecans

Heat oven to 375. Spread pecans in a single layer on an un-greased baking pan, and toast in the oven until lightly golden, about 5 – 7 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and let stand until completely cool. Finely chop pecans, and set aside. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, and beat until well-combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add the remaining ingredients, and beat 5 minutes more. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days. Pat the chopped pecans to the outside of the cake.

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