This is a fantastic and wholesome cake to make for baby’s first birthday! It’s made with pureed carrots for a super moist and soft texture. You can use baby food instead of making homemade puree if you’d like although I find that homemade puree adds a better flavor. It’s mildly spiced with cinnamon, but can be easily adapted to suit you or baby’s flavor preferences. The molasses adds a rich flavor and color and extra dietary iron for your little one. All around a fabulous choice for baby’s special day!
8 large orange carrots with carrot tops, peeled and quartered lengthwise or 2 cups of carrot puree, carrot tops reserved
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups brown coconut sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup walnut oil (or avocado or mild-tasting olive oil)
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Carrot tops, washed and thoroughly dried
Preheat oven to 325 F degrees. Grease one 9 x 13″ rectangular cake pan or two 8″-9″ round cake pans with oil and flour. If wanting to make mini cakes for a smash cake, you can use four 4″ round cake pans. Whichever oil you are using for the cake recipe, works fine here too. Set aside.
Fill stock pot or Dutch oven with 2-3 inches or so of water and place a metal steamer basket inside. Feel free to use another steaming process if more convenient. Bring the water to a boil on high heat on the stovetop and add the carrot pieces. Cover with a lid and let steam for 20 minutes or until the carrots are fork tender and soft. When done, transfer the carrots to a blender with a slotted spoon and add 1/2 cup of residual hot water from the stockpot. Blend on high until carrot puree is smooth with no lumps. Pour 2 cups of puree into a small bowl and set aside. Store any surplus in an airtight container in the refrigerator to enjoy at a later time–this makes for a great snack for baby mixed with yogurt.
In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In the same bowl, add the carrot puree or baby food, eggs, oil, and molasses and beat with a handheld electric mixer until thoroughly combined. Pour batter into greased pans and transfer to oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Baking times will vary depending on the size of the cake pan(s)–less time is likely needed for smaller cakes.
Remove the cake(s) from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the pan to cool completely before frosting.
While the cakes are baking, make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl with a handheld electric mixer or using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, add the cream cheese and butter. Blend on high until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the powdered sugar until fully incorporated, and then finally, the vanilla extract. You can make the frosting ahead of time if needed and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before frosting the cake(s).
This recipes makes enough frosting for a thick layer on a rectangular cake or two thinner layers of frosting on a stacked 8″-9″ round cake. If making a mini smash cake, I recommend a two layered cake which means you’ll have enough for two fully frosted cakes (one for baby and one for the deserving parents!). Lastly, add the carrot tops to the perimeter of the cake (as pictured) or on the top for a simple decoration.
Serve the cake at room temperature within 4-6 hours after frosting or store frosted cake in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
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