Serves 10 to 12
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Tangy, rich, and delicious, a sheet-pan carrot cake is great for snacking anytime. But to get true carrot flavor and texture, you have to shred a mountain of carrots. So we turned to the food processor, and then we went on to discover that we could make the entire batter in it—plus the frosting. We shredded a full pound of carrots using the shredding disk and then chopped the pecans using the chopping blade. We then mixed together the cake batter right in the processor bowl, amping up the flavor with healthy doses of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. We pulsed the carrots back in just before adding the flour, which guaranteed that they would be evenly dispersed and the batter would not get overworked. While the cake baked, we whipped up a simple cream cheese frosting—again in the processor—with vanilla and confectioners’ sugar, the perfect justsweet-enough accent to our spiced cake. The frosting will be too soft to use right out of the food processor in step 4; be sure to chill it slightly before assembling the cake.
1 pound carrots, peeled
2 cups pecans, toasted (optional)
1½ cups vegetable oil
1½ cups (10½ ounces) granulated sugar
½ cup packed (3½ ounces) light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon table salt
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
2½ cups (12½ ounces) all-purpose flour
1 For the cake Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Working in batches, use food processor fitted with shredding disk to process carrots; set aside.
2 Fit now-empty processor with chopping blade. Pulse pecans, if using, until coarsely chopped, about 5 pulses; set aside. Process oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and cloves in again-empty processor until sugars are mostly dissolved and mixture is emulsified, 10 to 12 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add carrots and pulse until combined, about 3 pulses. Add flour and pulse until just incorporated, about 10 pulses; do not overmix.
3 Pour batter evenly into prepared pan and smooth top with rubber spatula. Gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let cake cool completely in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.
4 For the frosting In clean, dry processor, process cream cheese, butter, sour cream, vanilla, and salt until smooth, 25 to 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add sugar and process until incorporated and frosting is creamy and glossy, about 20 seconds. Chill frosting until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
5 Spread frosting evenly over top of cake. If using chopped pecans, gently press pecans evenly onto frosting. Serve.