Friday, April 6, 2012

Carrot Garden Carrot Cake

I was looking for something fun to make for an Easter dessert when I came across this idea on the Betty Crocker website.  I loved how cute the carrots looked, but decided to make some changes.  I let the idea rattle around in my brain for a few days and, as usually happens, inspiration struck - I decided I wanted to make a carrot garden.  In order to do that I would need to make a cake instead of cupcakes so it looked more like a field and I would need to add a few embellishments to it.  

One of the things I thought would be cute would be to have a little spade to put in the garden - but where to get one?  Then on Monday when I attended my art class what do I see sitting on the table beside  my paint palette, but a little spade just the right size.  I asked my friend if I could borrow it and then invited her over for an Easter lunch so she could enjoy the treat.  Not only does she love artsy/crafty things, but she adores carrot cake so she was the perfect person to make this for (well that and my family for Easter dinner).

So I got to work finding some fruit roll-up that would work to make carrots. 

It wasn't as easy as you would think to find orange and green fruit roll-up and I ended up using several boxes to get enough.  Oh, well - it's all in the name of art!

I cut the orange and green sections of the fruit roll-up into pieces that were about 3 cms (or just over an inch) in length.  I cut the green into a fringe and rolled it to make the leaves and then I rolled the piece of orange around that to make the carrot.

I had a grand time rolling and rolling  and before you know it a few carrots ...

... had turned into heaps of carrots.

I made the soil for the garden by putting some chocolate biscuits in a baggie and crushing them with my fingers.

It seems remarkable to me that I have never made a carrot cake before, but that is the truth.  So I did what I always do when I need a tried and true recipe - I Googled Canadian Living recipes and found this one.  Not only did it sound delicious, but according to their website it is their most popular recipe ever and it is also Canada's favourite carrot cake.  Sounded like a good choice to me.  Canadian Living didn't let me down - the carrot cake tasted fantastic.  I've posted the recipe here for reference and put the changes I made in italics after.

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour 
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
2 tsp (10 mL) cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) nutmeg 
3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (175 mL) packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup (175 mL) vegetable oil
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
2 cups (500 mL) grated carrots
1 cup (250 mL) drained crushed canned pineapple
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped pecans
1 8 oz (250g) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter, softened
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
1 cup (250 mL) icing sugar

I used whole-wheat flour instead of the all-purpose flour and it turned out fine and was that much healthier.  
I also added 1/2 tsp of ground ginger and 1 cup of raisins.

1. Grease and flour 13- x 9-inch (3.5 L) metal cake pan; set aside.
2. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. 
3. In separate bowl, beat together granulated and brown sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla until smooth
4. Pour over flour mixture and stir just until moistened.
5.  Stir in carrots, pineapple and pecans. 
6. Spread in prepared pan and bake in centre of 350°F (180°C) oven for 40 minutes or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack. 
(Make-ahead: Cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 2 days. Or over-wrap with heavy duty foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks; let thaw before continuing.)
Icing: In bowl, beat cream cheese with butter until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Beat in icing sugar, onethird at a time, until smooth. Spread over top of cake.

I divided the 9 x 13 cake into two so I could serve one half to my friend today and the other half to the family on Easter Sunday.

I made a little sign that said "Jennifer's Garden" out of cardboard and glued it to half a wooden chopstick.  When my husband saw the cake, he thought we needed a little family of field mice to go in the side of the cake so he went and found some Playmobil mice and made a little home for them.  He even made a tunnel hole on top of the cake and put one of the mice chewing on a carrot up in the field - it was adorable!

The cake was so much fun to make and tasted great too!  In the past I have never known what to serve for Easter dinner dessert as we don't have a set tradition, but this just might become a new one. What do you have for Easter dinner dessert?

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Linked to Bunny Blog Hop at On Sutton Place,
Inspiration Friday at At the Picket Fence,
Party Ideas at Funky Junk Interiors,
Sunday Showcase Party at Under the Table and Dreaming,
WOW Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style


  1. That is so adorable & looks delicious, too!

  2. Oh my, this is just too cute, and I can't believe you've never made carrot cake! If I wasn't gluten free at the moment I would make this up in a heartbeat, though I do have some gluten free flour...hmm. And we always had fresh coconut cake or sunshine cake for Easter dessert. Have a wonderful Easter!


  3. Hi! I'm your newest follower :) I have to say, I do not like carrot cake AT ALL, but that cake is SO ridiculously cute I think I'm going to have to make an exception - adorable!

  4. Aww! That cake is so adorable Grace! What a lovely dessert to share at Easter! You did an amazing job! Wishing you a wonderful long weekend and Happy Easter! Angie xo

  5. I adore carrot cake, but I have never had one this good. It looks great, such attention to detail.
    Wishing you and yours a very Happy Easter.

  6. You are brilliant. Everything you do is so beautiful and I wanted to take the time to acknowledge that. Happy Easter!

  7. So cute, Grace. I love it. I have pinned it so I remember to try it out soon.

  8. So adorable! I love how you decorated the top. The carrots are so cute. I love the clever way you made them!

  9. I love the irony of serving a carrot cake at easter. I made carrot dip and thought it was pretty funny but nobody seemed to twig - bunnys + carrots - maybe I'll have to try this carrot cake next time :)