jump to content immediately

a simple request

March 10 2009 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Dessert,Recipe » 32 comments


We don’t ask much from our dinner guests. All we request is that they scale the four, steeeep flights up to our apartment (without too much complaining). And if they can possibly manage it, I am thrilled when they have requests (this one is way harder to come by than the stair-climb). And that’s just one of the (many) reasons why I love it when our friends Alex and Gena come for dinner. Gena, you see, can always be counted on to lodge a request (after a bit of gentle prodding, of course).


For our most recent dinner, her request was simple: something, anything, she pleaded, involving cream cheese frosting—a request I happily honored. I decided the frosting would sit atop a carrot cake.


With dessert squared away, the rest of the menu fell magically into place: like pieces of a puzzle I’d put together a zillion times. We’d have a whole chicken, roasted in the Zuni Cafe style, along with a salad studded with chewy-crispy croutons and a potato-celery root gratin. Oh, was I excited.


The carrot cake selection was a no-brainer. The only other contender was a bowl of the frosting, accompanied only by four spoons: one for each of us. But that seemed a bit much, no? Plus, carrot cake and cream cheese frosting are one of the most celebrated marriages in all American cookery—right up there with peanut butter & jelly; grilled cheese & tomato soup; meatloaf & mashed potatoes. But a towering, three-tiered confection also seemed like too much. So, instead, I went for a single round cake, and piled it high with a cloud of maple-infused cream cheese frosting.


I ran a butter knife through the frosting to create little swoops and swirls—not unlike the technique you would use on a meringue pie, just before slipping it in the oven.


Wedges of the cake made a lovely end to the dinner. I had a hard time finishing my piece, but no matter: Gena reached her fork across the table and swept up the remaining frosting on my plate. And that’s just one more reason why she’s a keeper.


Single-Layer Classic Carrot Cake
Adapted from Food & Wine

Printable Recipe

1/2 cup pecans (2 ounces)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded

Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter one 9-inch cake pans; line the bottom with parchment. Butter the paper and flour the pan.

Make the cake: Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes, until fragrant. Cool and finely chop the pecans.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, buttermilk and vanilla. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until pale, 5 minutes. Beat in the liquid ingredients. Beat in the dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in the carrots and pecans. Pour the batter in the pan and bake the cake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until springy and golden. Let the cake cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then unmold the cake and let cool completely.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Printable Recipe

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat at low speed until well blended. Beat in maple syrup. Chill until just firm enough to spread, 30 minutes.

Pile the frosting on the center of the cake. Use a offset spatula or butter knife to spread the frosting evenly atop the cake. Run a butterknife through the frosting to create swoops and swirls.

32 comments so far. »
| Leave a Reply
  1. Kris says on March 10 2009 at 7:16 pm:

    this looks really good! My husband and son both love carrot cake, so I’ll give this recipe a try. I just ran across your blog tonight – your photos are fantastic! I’ll check back often :)

  2. Whitney Merritt says on March 10 2009 at 8:04 pm:

    Sounds like a lovely evening!

    PS-Congrats on making PW Cooks :)

  3. Amy says on March 10 2009 at 8:26 pm:

    mmm carrot cake is next on my list of baked goods…this looks divine!


  4. Monica h says on March 11 2009 at 12:17 am:

    Bookmarked for Easter!

    I love carrot cake, it has always been my favorite, but those huge layer cakes are hard to consume when it’s just the two of us.

    Thank you!

  5. sue bette says on March 11 2009 at 3:14 am:

    I think I’d climb twelve flights of stairs for a zuni kitchen – and then on top of that a celery root gratin and a perfect carrot cake – top notch!

  6. Jennifer says on March 11 2009 at 3:30 am:

    What a lovely idea! I would surely hike the flight of stairs to get to your apartment if you were cooking dinner for me!
    The cake is fabulous!!! I love using a maple cream cheese frosting on carrot cake too :) beautiful!

  7. Amy says on March 11 2009 at 5:35 am:

    What a great menu! I am kicking myself that I don’t have that Zuni Cafe cookbook…everything I hear about it (esp. the roast chicken) makes it sound like a winner. Sounds like it was a perfect meal with good friends for a chilly March night!

  8. Eileen @ Passions to Pastry says on March 11 2009 at 6:06 am:

    How I love carrot cakes, and I’m always looking for a good recipe. I often make a Lamb Cake around Easter and this might be the cake recipe I choose to make this year. Sounds great…

  9. heather says on March 11 2009 at 6:24 am:

    i like carrot cake well enough, but the maple cream cheese frosting seals it!



  10. Culinary Cory says on March 11 2009 at 6:36 am:

    LOVE the idea of just gently frosting the top with big swirls. So simple, yet so elegant.

  11. Amanda Boyce says on March 11 2009 at 7:17 am:

    You had my heart with maple cream cheese frosting. Life doesn’t get much better than sitting down with a spoon and savoring that sweet tangy frosting.

  12. Kara says on March 11 2009 at 7:25 am:

    Absolutely love this presentation. So perfect for a casual dinner with friends… can’t wait to borrow your idea!

  13. Anticiplate says on March 11 2009 at 8:03 am:

    I almost thought you were not going to spread the cream cheese over the cake, until I scrolled down further. That would not have been odd to me:) I LOVE LOVE LOVE cream cheese frosting!

  14. Kate says on March 11 2009 at 9:46 am:

    This looks really fantastic. Would be a good cake for Easter too, what with the carrot theme and all.

  15. ingrid says on March 11 2009 at 9:54 am:

    I’ll come over for dinner or dessert and ask, pretty please for one of your yummy desserts. I will also hop up and help clear the dishes and clean the kitchen, happily!

    Needless to say that looks wonderful especially the frosting. Thanks for the tip on the swirls in your frosting!!!

  16. Jodye says on March 11 2009 at 10:55 am:

    Your cake looks absolutely divine, and oh the maple cream cheese frosting just tops it all amazingly!

  17. Shannalee says on March 11 2009 at 11:55 am:

    Wow – You know you’re doing something right when you get a girl like me excited about carrot cake. Your photos are gorgeous – and I love the cake plate!

  18. Gena says on March 11 2009 at 12:19 pm:

    I guess since you exposed me for finishing your frosting i might as well admit that i had one more piece in the car on the way home. Oh well. Good cake is good cake. And your cake lady, is dang good.

  19. Sarah says on March 11 2009 at 12:52 pm:

    My husband loves carrot cake…I love the idea of maple infused frosting too. I will have to try this.

    Love your site – I found out about it from PW!

  20. Tabitha (From Single to Married) says on March 11 2009 at 1:30 pm:

    mmm… cream cheese frosting is my favorite too and this recipe looks delicious!

  21. The Duo Dishes says on March 11 2009 at 5:08 pm:

    Gorgeous cake. There’s no raisins in it, which we completely prefer.

  22. brilynn says on March 11 2009 at 5:13 pm:

    I do so love carrot cake, but it’s probably the frosting that I like best. I think maple would make it even better.

  23. Rec(ession)ipes says on March 20 2009 at 7:41 pm:

    Your photos are gorgeous: the color in the carrots is so vibrant! Do you mind if I ask what kind of camera/flash/lighting you use?

  24. Mindy says on April 06 2009 at 4:48 pm:

    Oh boy…I’m a sucker for carrot cake. I promptly decided I needed to try this version with the Maple (yum) cream cheese frosting…I’ll be making it this weekend for our Easter dinner. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  25. Meagan Abraham says on April 25 2009 at 10:05 pm:

    Your photographs are wonderful! Aesthetically spot on, makes the bowl of grated carrot and pecans looks divine! Just popped my carrot cake in the oven, however don’t have any cream cheese on hand, wondering if thick cream will do?!

    Will def by back to your site – great stuff!

  26. Katya Simkhovich says on September 13 2009 at 7:13 am:

    Could i make 12 cupcakes out of this same recipe? I love the idea of maple cream cheese frosting by the way! I LOVE maple syrup!

  27. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on September 13 2009 at 10:01 am:

    Katya: You could give it a try, though I can’t guarantee that it will make exactly 12 cupcakes (could be less, could be more). You will likely need to reduce the baking time and perhaps the oven temperature. If you do try it out, please let us know how it goes. Good luck!

  28. Katya Simkhovich says on September 14 2009 at 5:20 pm:

    So, I made them into 12 cupcakes and they turned out great! I baked them at 350 for around 20 min. My dad claims that they were THE BEST carrot cake he has ever had. Thanks for the recipe!

  29. Carrot Cake for a Wedding « Daring the Domestic says on May 14 2010 at 6:23 am:

    [...] you want a simple one-layer cake you’ll find that recipe at The Kitchen Sink Recipes, or do the math and divide everything in [...]

  30. [Another] Carrot Cake | Food Loves Writing says on March 01 2011 at 9:19 am:

    [...] this one, but just like with cookies, it’s still always fun to try something new. Plus, Kristin’s version has stuck in my mind ever since she posted it last year. It adds pecans and buttermilk, and it [...]

  31. Piyali says on September 06 2011 at 5:29 am:

    this came out absolutely delicious! Its a great recipe to tweak with extras and substitutions because the base is so perfect. I used a mix of nuts I had around instead of pecans and 1/4 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup regular sugar. I also used canola oil as my vegetable oil. I really appreciate that there is no butter in this! for my frosting I used equal parts low fat cream cheese and greek yogurt with maple syrup – it was a firm spreadable mix that tasted great with the cake and just as satisfying as something with a bit more sugar. Thanks for posting!

  32. Jennifer says on July 14 2014 at 11:55 am:

    I was looking for a simple single layer carrot cake recipe, this is great! Whipped it together in about 10 minutes and it’s in the oven now. I’ll be back to look at the rest of your blog!

Your Reply:


required (Will Not be Shown)

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Trackback this Article  |  Subsribe to Comments