Preheat oven to 375°. Spread chopped pecans on a sheet pan, and toast at 375° for 5 minutes; set aside to cool. Line 2 greased 9-inch round cake pans with wax paper, and set aside.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Sift together flour and next 4 ingredients. Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed. Reduce speed to medium-low, and add eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Add milk and half of flour mixture; blend well. Add remaining flour mixture gradually for a smoother batter.
Stir in orange zest and juice, vanilla, grated carrot, and toasted nuts. Divide batter evenly into prepared cake pans, and bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted into center of cake comes out clean. (Layers may sink a bit in the middle.)
Let layers cool in pans 10 minutes; transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool completely. Top 1 layer with Cream Cheese Frosting; add second layer; frost top and sides of cake.
Store the finished cake in the refrigerator to keep the frosting from getting too soft.
Very tasty cake. The spices and orange made this cake better than the average carrot cake.
I added the orange zest to the frosting and just used 2.5 cups of powdered sugar for the frosting. Both were good decisions. I might even try reducing the sugar a bit more the next time I make this.
I suggest checking the cake after 35 minutes. Maybe my oven was too hot, but 40 minutes was too long and the edges were overbaked and dry.
The cake was good, but a little too sweet for my taste, but perhaps that is the nature of a carrot cake. Also, I thought the icing could have been made with a little less sugar, perhaps 2.5 cups instead of three. Although I did not try it, I would agree with some of the other reviewers that adding a little acid in the icing would help to cut the sweetness.
Yummy! Big hit with for a co-worker's birthday and relatively painless to make. I also added some orange zest to the icing for a little extra orange flavor. The icing and cake are definitely not as sweet as some--which is one of the things I like about it.
I have made several carrot cakes but this was by far the best. Very moist and delicious. Will definitely add it to my "company" list of desserts. I used a store bought cream cheese frosting and that was a little rich but overall awesome!
The cake is wonderful. My husband loves carrot cake and after a few different tries, we've determined this is the keeper. However, the cream cheese frosting needs adjustments (I found the original to be "too thin"). I used 8 oz. cream cheese and 5-6 cups of powdered sugar. This worked better for us.
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