Is there anything more wonderful than super moist, spiced Carrot Cake stuffed with a Sweet Cream Cheese Filling and drizzled with sweet and tangy Orange Cream Cheese Glaze? No raisins or pineapple in this tender and epic pound cake! Perfect for Easter and spring celebrations!
When I was putting together my menu for Easter Dinner this year, this was the first thing that went on the list! One of our springtime favorites, this Carrot Cake is loaded with flavor, super moist without being oily, and spiced to perfection with hints of vanilla bean, orange, pecans, and a silky sweet cream cheese filling. This is the Carrot Cake that bunnies dream of!
One of my kiddos is now allergic to pineapple, and another one asked me to make a carrot cake without raisins, so creating a carrot cake without those usual ingredients to add sweetness and texture was a challenge. Brown sugar and coarsely ground pecans caramelize to add base flavor to this dark brown pound cake, which is perfectly spiced with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and vanilla, with a tiny splash of orange extract that adds something special. Fresh sour cream or vanilla Greek yogurt keep everything moist and pulled together.
But the surprise is the tunnel of sweet cream cheese filling! Fresh cream cheese is whipped up with sugar, an egg, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and vanilla bean paste to create a silky and creamy filling. Nestled deep inside the cake, it's easy to make by spooning the cheesecake filling between layers of cake batter before baking. Our little secret!
Drizzled with a sweet and tangy Orange Cream Cheese Glaze just takes this cake to the moon! I sprinkled with chopped pecans and orange zest, which added a special bit of sparkle to this perfect springtime cake.
I'm not always a big fan of orange flavor, but the combination of orange extract and fresh-squeezed orange juice are really the secret ingredients in this glaze. Nobody really knows that they are in there, but man-oh-man, what a difference they make!
For holiday baking, I love things that I can make ahead of time. Pound cakes are perfect in that regard - as they generally get more flavorful and moist after sitting quietly for a day. A food processor makes quick work out of grating the carrots, and you will have this baking in your oven in minutes.
Because of the cream cheese, you'll want to keep this cake covered and in a cool location until you are ready to serve it.
2 & 1/2 cups peeled and grated carrots
2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar, packed
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 large eggs (room temp)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream (or Vanilla Greek Yogurt)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
2 teaspoons orange extract
Sweet Cream Cheese Filling:
8 oz. block cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg (room temp)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Orange Cream Cheese Glaze:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
HOW I MAKE THIS:
1. Remove eggs, cream cheese and sour cream from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
2. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Generously butter and sprinkle with cocoa powder a 10” (12-cup) bundt cake pan (if using nonstick baking spray, spray right before adding the cake batter – no earlier!) Because this is a dark cake, I use cocoa powder rather than flour.
3. Prepare Carrots: Wash, peel and finely shred or grate the carrots. I use my food processor for this, but you can also use a hand or box grater.
4. Make Cream Cheese Filling: In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until light and creamy. Add the flour, egg, lemon juice and vanilla extract and beat until smooth and creamy; set aside.
5. Prepare Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the Dry Ingredients until well blended.
6. Prepare Wet Ingredients: In a large bowl, gently whisk eggs, then add remaining Wet Ingredients and whisk together just until combined – don’t overmix!
7. Prepare Cake Batter: Add half of Dry Ingredients to Wet Ingredients and whisk just until moistened; add remaining dry Ingredients and again whisk together just until moistened. With a wooden spoon, stir in grated carrots until evenly combined.
8. If you’re using nonstick baking spray, now is the time to spray your bundt pan liberally.
9. Pour 3 cups batter into prepared bundt pan. Spoon Cream Cheese Filling over batter and gently smooth, but do not touch the sides of the pan. Top with remaining batter.
10. Bake at 350F degrees for 45 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and tent your cake with foil – leaving space for steam to escape; bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
11. Remove from oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes; transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. I usually cover the cake after an hour to keep the cake moist.
12. Make Orange Cream Cheese Glaze: In a medium bowl, cream together all of the Glaze ingredients EXCEPT the powdered sugar on medium speed for 1-2 minutes or until completely smooth. Add sifted powdered sugar and beat until very smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes to set up.
13. Drizzle Glaze: When cake has cooled, drizzle Glaze over cake or individual servings, whisking in additional orange juice if Glaze has become too thick. Garnish with chopped pecans or orange zest (optional).
YIELD: 12-14 servings
Originally posted April 2013; revised and reposted April 2019.
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