Carrot cake may be the only dessert that I'm absolutely neutral towards. I don't love it, I don't hate it, it's just okay. If you give me a slice of carrot cake, chances are that I'll still eat it. But I never crave it. This spring, I wanted to change that. I wanted to create a carrot cake that I would dream about. By adding citrus, I was able to achieve just that. This spiced carrot cake with blood orange curd is now the version I want every time I have the dessert. Yes, it's just that good.
Carrot Cake with Blood Orange Curd
Blood orange curd
- 1 large egg
- 4 large egg yolks
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
- ½ cup blood orange juice (125 ml)
- 2 teaspoons blood orange zest
- 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks (42 grams)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 1 cup brown sugar (200 grams)
- ¾ cup olive oil (187 grams)
- ½ cup applesauce (128 grams)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon blood orange zest
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (296 grams)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups grated carrots (275 grams)
- 1 cup chopped pistachios (112 grams)
- ½ cup softened butter at room temperature (113 grams)
- 8 ounces softened cream cheese at room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar (390 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make the blood orange curd. Whisk together egg with egg yolks, sugar, blood orange juice, and zest until well combined. Place bowl over double boiler and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes, whisking frequently. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, mixing until fully incorporated. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of curd and let cool. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line and grease two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray.
- Make carrot cake. Whisk together eggs with both sugars, olive oil, applesauce, vanilla, and orange zest until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour with baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, and salt until well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. Fold in grated carrots and chopped pistachios. Divide cake batter between cake pans.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pan for 25 minutes. Invert onto wire racks and let cool completely.
- Prepare frosting. Beat together butter with cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until well combined. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined.
- Place bottom cake on cake stand. Pipe edges of cake with frosting to create a border. Fill the center with blood orange curd, about ¾ cup. Stack remaining cake on top and spread frosting on top. Serve at room temperature.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
If you're new to this blog, you may not know if but I'm obsessed with blood oranges. With the citrus season coming to a close and spring right around the corner, I thought it was best to celebrate both. This carrot cake with blood orange curd is the perfect cake for just the occasion.
Let's start by making the blood orange curd. Juice about 5-6 blood oranges and whisk it together with the zest, sugar, whole egg, and egg yolks in a medium bowl. Bring a pot of water to a simmer and place the bowl directly on top, making sure that it's not touching the water. Continue to cook the curd, whisking frequently, until thickened.
Since this is a relatively big batch of orange curd, it can take at least ten minutes for it to thicken. Once it does, remove it from heat and stir in the butter. Cool the blood orange curd completely, placing plastic wrap directly on top of the surface. Doing this will prevent the curd from forming skin.
Feel free to make the curd up to 3 days in advance.
Now let's move on to the carrot cake itself. Carrot cake is made with oil, not butter, which means you really just have to mix the ingredients together.
Combine the wet ingredients first, whisking the eggs with oil, granulated and brown sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and orange zest. I wanted to reduce the amount of oil so I used a combination of oil and applesauce. The applesauce will also help activate the baking soda.
Next, combine the dry ingredients including all of the wonderful warm spices. Then, add the dry ingredients to the egg batter, stirring just until combined. Fold in the grated carrots and pistachios, stirring until combined. You can swap the pistachios for any other nut including walnuts, pecans, or almonds. Some carrot cakes have raisins but I thought it best to omit the raisins this time.
Divide the cake batter into 2 cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool in the pans for 25 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. If you remove them from the pan immediately, there's a good chance they'll fall apart because they're very moist.
Cool the carrot cake completely before starting the decorating. If you want to avoid getting loose crumbs in your icing, freeze them for 1 hour.
I went with a basic cream cheese frosting for this carrot cake so that it won't compete with the blood orange curd. Plus carrot cake and cream cheese frosting is a pair not to be messed with.
Pipe a border of the cream cheese frosting on the first layer to prevent the curd from spilling out. Then, spread a generous amount of blood orange curd in the center. Stack the first layer with the second layer and frost the top.
This recipe doesn't make enough frosting to cover the entire cake so you will need to make extra if that's your plan. However, the frosting is incredibly sweet so I didn't think it was necessary to frost the entire cake.
I wasn't exactly sure what to expect when I took my first bite out of this carrot cake with blood orange curd. Fortunately, I absolutely loved it. The warm spices and blood orange curd brought so much life to the cake that I couldn't stop eating it. Success!
For more cake inspiration check out this blueberry lemon baked Alaska!