Active Time
20 MIN
Total Time
2 HR
Yield
Serves : 9

Oh, how I love a snack cake. It just feels so… friendly. It’s doable, casual, and unassuming—and thus you’ll find one in my house way more often than a layer cake (which suits my kids just fine). Don’t be fooled by their less-glamorous looks; snack cakes are every bit as good. They’re certainly easier to make, so I can whip one up with little effort—and more frequency—and make everyone in my house happy.

So what exactly is a snack cake? Well, my own personal definition is that it’s a one-layer cake with frosting on top (as opposed to the strata of a layer cake). I like ’em tall and topped off with a hearty layer of frosting. I know many snack cake recipes forego the frosting, but that’s just wrong if you ask me. If I’m going to have cake, I want frosting, too.

For the batter, I prefer a one-bowl method. Since snack cakes are more rustic, and a little rougher around the edges, whisking the batter together works great. You’re not aiming for a fine, delicate crumb that only a high-speed mixer can provide. In this carrot cake, almond flour is the predominant flour, which makes for a rich, dense, moist texture. A little all-purpose flour helps with structure, and you can use gluten-free all-purpose if you’d like. I tested side by side with traditional all-purpose, and neither I nor anyone else in my family could tell the difference. I use honey to sweeten this cake because I love how its floral complexity complements almonds. And because honey is more hygroscopic (absorbs more moisture from the air) than sugar, the cake keeps well and stays moist for a week or more.

One side note where the frosting is concerned: I had some cream cheese that I bought at a discount grocer and wanted to see how it would perform here. The verdict? Yuck. It was ropey and strange (it must have contained more guar or xanthan gum), so I seriously warn you about straying from a tried-and-true brand. Your snack cake deserves better. And so do you.

How to Make It

Step 1    

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square metal baking pan with parchment paper, allowing paper to overhang about 2 inches.

Step 2    

Whisk together flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center of mixture; crack in eggs, and whisk to beat. Add buttermilk, honey, and vanilla; whisk until well blended. Fold in carrots and 1/2 cup pecans. Spoon mixture into prepared baking pan.

Step 3    

Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging, 25to 27minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Remove cake from panusing parchment as handles, and let cool on rack to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Step 4    

Make the frosting: Combine cream cheese and butter in a large bowl; beat with a handheld mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Addvanilla and salt; beat just until combined. Add powdered sugar; beat on low speed until just combined; increase speed to medium, and beat until smooth. Spread frosting over cake. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pecans. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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