Sister Carm’s Carrot Cake

Carm’s Carrot Cake
Sister Carm (left) and my mom in Russia.

Sister Carm is a family friend that my mother met through church and subsequently traveled with to Africa and parts of Europe. Her carrot cake is famous in our family – when I was searching for the recipe in my e-mail inbox, I found at least three separate messages with my mom, cousins, and friends all asking for copies of it. When I asked Sister Carm for permission to publish this carrot cake, I also asked her if she had any stories she wanted me to tell. She said, “Can’t think of a story to go along with recipe except your mom said after eating it ‘Carm if the nun thing doesn’t work out for you, you can always bake cakes.'” I agree with my mom – Carm could make a living off selling these cakes!

Carm said a version of this recipe originally appeared in the “Talk About Good Lafayette Junior League Cookbook” and she’s made her own tweaks over the years. I’ve included her original instructions below, with a few of my own comments and suggestions in the footnotes.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups shredded carrots

Combine dry ingredients and mix well. Add eggs and oil and mix well. Add carrots and beat with mixer on medium speed about 2 minutes. Grease 3 9-inch cake pans. Bake 25-30 minutes.

For the filling/icing: the original recipe used 1/2 these ingredients and suggested not icing the sides of the cake. I double the recipe for icing and use as filling and icing and always have some left over. (I refrigerate the leftover icing and use it later on another type of cake.)

  • 2 8 oz packages Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 2 lb confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-2 cups chopped pecans (optional)

Cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, add sugar gradually. Add vanilla and pecans. Use as filling and icing.

Enjoy, Carm

Justin’s Notes:

  1. I generally divide the batter between 2 cake pans instead of 3 (because I don’t own 3!), but the cooking time is usually the same.
  2. I also find that lining the bottom of the cake pans with parchment paper and then greasing both the pan and the parchment make it easier to remove the cakes after baking.
  3. I prefer to shred whole carrots with the small holes of a box grater rather than you using store-bought shredded carrots; the texture is much better and results in a moister cake.
  4. The butter and cream cheese will be easier to mix if they are at room temperature. Sally’s Baking Addiction has some tricks here if you need to do this quickly.
  5. Like Carm, I prefer to double the filling/icing, but I leave the sides naked and instead make very thick icing layers between each cake level and on top.
  6. Make sure the cakes are completely cooled before spreading on the icing – if the cakes are warm, the icing will be runny.
  7. Lastly, I tend to decoratively sprinkle the pecans over the top of the cake instead of mixing them into the icing.

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