magnolia bakery's carrot cake recipe

There is just something about a local bakery.

The small and simple shops. With chalk board signs and rustic displays. That make everything they sell right there in their kitchen. 

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Hoda Kotb on The Today Show once said that you never see a mad person outside a bakery. Everyone there is in a good mood.  That observation has stuck with me and I think she is totally right.  You never see a frown in sight. 

You could just peer into the store window and you will smile.

New York City… to me, it’s a city full of bakeries.

I like to walk around New York, visiting all the bakeries. I hold on to my favorites and then re-visit them over and over and over again.  Soaking in the atmosphere, gathering inspiration from the décor, display, and menu. 

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I vividly remember my first trip to Magnolia Bakery. 

I was around 15 years old on a family trip.  We went to the original location in the West Village.  Not only is it located on Bleecker Street, the best street name there is, but I remember peeking into the side window as man in a white apron was spreading white icing over a tall, tiered white cake. 

Then a few years later, I may or may not have left New York with a Banana Cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. I remember eating it in the Chicago airport during my layover.

Yes, of course I would do this.  

Now, you may eat their cupcakes and say “It’s not the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had."  But you know what?  There is just something about a cupcake from Magnolia.  It always a special treat. And that is what makes them the best.

I recently received Magnolia Bakery’s original cookbook.  I was thrilled to have these recipes.  But, I had to stop and question why in world I did not own this book already?!

So, let’s get down to business. 

It’s time to make one of their cakes.

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I need to make a cake for my niece's second birthday party.  

I want to make an earthy, 3-layered decorated cake … a Carrot Cake. 

Magnolia’s recipe is loaded with carrots, pecans, coconut, pineapple and cinnamon.  It will make two, 9-inch round cake pans.  But, since I wanted a 3-layered cake for the party, I made the cake batter recipe twice and filled three 9-inch pans. 

I used the leftover batter to make this small round cake.  You know, just to make sure the cake tastes okay before I serve it to a lot of guests. ;)

This is a good one!  But, coming from Magnolia, would you expect anything less?

Magnolia Bakery's Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting 

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (canola is preferred)
  • 1 ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups lightly packed shredded carrots
  • One 8oz. can crushed pineapple in it’s own juice (buy the kind with juice)
  • ¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cups coarsely chopped toasted pecans 

Directions for the cake:

- Toast Pecans:  Place the chopped pecans on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool

- Preheat Oven 325 degrees.

- Grease and lightly flour two 9×2 inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with wax paper. (I didn’t use wax paper and it worked fine)

- In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside.

- In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the oil and sugar together.  Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until light & thick (about 2 minutes).  Add the vanilla and beat well.  Gradually add the dry ingredients, beating until well incorporated. 

- Stir in the carrots, pineapple (with its juice), 1 cup of pecans and coconut. 

- Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let the layers cool in the pan for 1 hour.  Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

- Frost with cream cheese frosting..

 Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 8oz. packages of cream cheese or light cream cheese (softened)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened and cut into little pieces)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

Frosting Directions:

- In a large bowl, on the medium speed beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth (about 3 minutes).  Add the vanilla and beat well.  Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time until smooth and creamy. 

- Cover and refrigerate the frosting for 2-3 hours to thicken before using.  Do not keep it in the fridge any longer or it will be too hard to frost

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So, would you do me a favor?

The next time you visit a local bakery, just stop and look around. Take it all in. See the smiles. Be inspired. Buy a cookie to take to a friend. And when you leave, stop and pause…

I think you will notice that you feel a little happier.

That, my friend, is the magic of the bakery.