Ribbon-Winning Carrot Cake

Last summer, I entered several kinds of cookies into the Illinois State Fair. Sadly, I was defeated by an old-fashioned plain oatmeal cookie and a crackly, thick peanut butter.  You see, each year I've been trying to bake a perfect blue-ribbon cookie...

 

Well this summer I was at it again. But instead of just baking cookies, I took on another category: Carrot Cake

It was the stand-out at my sister Sarah's wedding reception. It was a homemade carrot cake, three-tiered and iced perfectly. That very cake that was on display at the reception was cut and served to everyone. There was none of that pre-cut sheet cake waiting in the kitchen to be served to the guests… making guests think they are eating the actual wedding cake. 

It was at that reception that I fell in love with this carrot cake (actually the icing more than the cake)… But either way, it was delicious and a recipe that I just had to get. So mom and I acquired it from our amazing-baker-family-friend and I decided to enter it into the Illinois State Fair culinary contest under the ‘Carrot Cake’ category. Well, the results are in and I got 3rd place!…Okay I know, it’s not a blue ribbon, but for my first try, I consider it a win!

The recipe calls for cream cheese frosting, but “cream cheese” was not allowed as a frosting ingredient at the fair because it would need to be refrigerated.  So I made a vanilla buttercream instead.  Either icing is great and the cake is delicious! 

I put the cream cheese frosting below. And I also included the buttercream (it’s the one I used for the cake I entered into the fair).

CARROT CAKE

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup oil
  • 2 cups carrots, grated
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup nuts (chopped pecans)
  • ½ can (about a cup) well drained crushed pineapple
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1.  Beat eggs, add sugar and oil. Add carrots and vanilla.Mix dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt). Gradually add to wet mixture.Add in nuts and pineapple.
  2. Divide into greased 8” baking pans (makes about three 8” or 9” round pans).Bake about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

 CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup real butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 lbs. powdered sugar

Directions: Cream butter and cream cheese together and add vanilla. Add powdered sugar. Add the powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency for spreading.  Whipping the icing for a few minutes will make it fluffy.  Chill until ready to use.

VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:

  • 1/3 cup soft butter 
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons of milk

Directions:  Blend butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and milk; beat until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency.