My mom loved carrots so much she put them in various dishes at least five times a week when I was growing up. Her specialty was a homemade carrot cake that was requested for every special occasion. When I made this for her 70th birthday, she cried with each bite.—Paula Marchesi, Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania
- 6 eggs, separated
- 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup orange juice
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1-1/2 cups butter, softened
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
- 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, optional
- 2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 4 medium)
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 8 to 8-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- Place egg whites in a small bowl; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottoms of three greased 8-in.-square baking pans with parchment paper; grease paper.
- In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk orange juice and sour cream. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugars and orange peel until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. If desired, beat in thyme. Add flour mixture alternately with orange juice mixture, beating well after each addition.
- With clean beaters, beat egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter. Gently fold in shredded carrots and pecans.
- Transfer to prepared pans. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks; remove paper. Cool completely.
- For frosting, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese, orange peel and juice until blended. Gradually beat in enough confectioners’ sugar to reach desired consistency.
- Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until serving. Yield: 16 servings.
Originally published as Three-Layered Carrot Cake in Taste of Home's Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook Annual 2014
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