Your carrot cake game will never be the same once you try Molly Yeh’s sensational recipe. The secret ingredient that sets this dessert apart from the other carrot cake recipes you’ve tried in the past? Cardamom-forward hawaij, a warm spice blend from Yemen that Molly adds to both the cake and the creamy frosting. The simple (read: genius!) rainbow carrot rosettes adorning the cake also lend a touch of whimsy. Don’t be surprised if your friends and family ask for a second slice… it really does, dare we say, take the cake as the recipe to bake this season.
Molly Yeh’s Carrot Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Nonstick cooking spray, for the cake pans
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp hawaij (see Cook’s Note)
1 ½ cups neutral oil, such as canola
1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste or extract
2 cups shredded carrots
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 Tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp hawaij
Pinch of kosher salt
Rainbow carrots, peeled into ribbons with a peeler, to decorate
1 rosemary sprig, leaves picked, to decorate
Cook’s Note: Hawaij is a Yemeni warm spice blend that’s heavy on the cardamom and can be used to flavour baked goods, frosting or even sprinkled in coffee! You can make a substitute by mixing 1 Tbsp ground ginger, 1 Tbsp ground cardamom, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves and 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment. Set aside.
2. Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda and hawaij in a large bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Whisk in the vanilla.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, and mix until about 90 per cent incorporated. Add the carrots and sesame seeds, and mix to incorporate (by this time, all of the flour mixture should be incorporated as well).
4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans, and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
1. Add the butter and cream cheese to a large bowl. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth and combined. Add the powdered sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Then add the heavy cream, vanilla, hawaij and salt. Mix until combined and smooth.
2. Cover the cakes with frosting and stack. Use the carrot ribbons to roll into rose shapes and place on top of the cake. Decorate with the rosemary, and serve!