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Food For Thought: Carrot Cake

By Courtesy of The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA


Years ago, Frog Commissary Catering, a part of The Franklin Institute, decided to drop carrot cake from the menu thinking it was too mundane to serve at special events. Not anymore! Since then the recipe has been resurrected and refined and has become a customer favorite for its sandwiched layers of spicy cake with raisins and pecans covered with tangy cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut. In the dead of winter, it will be a tasty reminder that spring is coming!

Baker’s note: It’s recommended to start a day ahead since the filling is best if chilled overnight.

For the pecan cream filling:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 oz. unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the cake:
1 1/4 cups corn oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
4 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup raisins

For the cream cheese frosting:
8 oz. soft unsalted butter
8 oz. soft cream cheese
1-pound box of powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 oz. shredded, sweetened coconut

To prepare:
  1. Make the filling: In a heavy saucepan, blend the sugar, flour and salt. Gradually stir in the cream. Add the butter. Cook and stir the mixture over low heat until the butter has melted, then let simmer 20-30 minutes until golden brown in color, stirring occasionally. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in the nuts and vanilla. Let cool completely and then refrigerate, preferably overnight. If too thick to spread, bring to room temperature before using.
  2. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Have ready a greased and floured 10″ tube cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn oil and sugar. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift half the dry ingredients into the sugar-oil mixture and blend. Alternately sift in the rest of the dry ingredients while adding the eggs, one by one. Combine well. Add the carrots, raisins and pecans. Pour into the prepared tube pan and bake for 70 minutes. Cool upright in the pan on a cooling rack.
  3. Make the frosting: Cream the butter well. Add the cream cheese and beat until blended. Sift in the sugar and add the vanilla. If too soft to spread, chill a bit. Bring to a spreadable temperature before using.
  4. Assemble the cake. Preheat the oven to 300°. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until it colors lightly. Toss the coconut occasionally while it is baking so that it browns evenly. Cool completely. Have the filling and frosting at a spreadable consistency. Loosen the cake in its pan and invert onto a serving plate. With a long serrated knife, carefully split the cake into 3 horizontal layers. Spread the filling between the layers. Spread the frosting over the top and sides. Pat the toasted coconut onto the sides of the cake. Serve at room temperature.

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The Franklin Institute
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 448.1165