The Secret Carrot Cake Recipe

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My mom had a successful custom baking and catering company in Storm Lake Iowa after she closed our Bed & Breakfast in Alta (my hometown).  When someone wanted to serve a “homemade” pie for company, they would bring their pie plate to my mom’s house and she would bake a pie on their behalf in their bake ware.  She even did an entire Thanksgiving dinner that way one year.  When we published our cookbooks, we were in essence giving away “the secret” recipes, which could’ve hurt her business, but instead everyone used the cookbooks as a menu for what she could provide.  They would call up and order the salad that they wanted on page 5 of the Spring salads, etc.  But her two most sought after recipes/orders were Williamsburg Breakfast Bread and Carrot Cake, which we never published in the cookbooks.  Those were held very close.  When my mom passed away, I was approached by several folks wanting those recipes!  So here is the first one—our “famous”, and very secret, carrot cake.  Enjoy!

GLUTEN FREE/DAIRY FREE UPDATE!  I was able to convert this to gluten free by substituting the flour for a gluten free flour blend (I use Cup4Cup) and added 3 Tablespoons of flour.  I also added an extra teaspoon of baking soda.  For the cream cheese frosting I substituted the cream cheese with the new Kite Hill Cream Cheese Spread (you could also use the one by Daiya) and the butter with Earth’s Balance “butter” sticks.  I delivered pieces all over town and NO ONE could tell that it was dairy and gluten free.  Huge win!

Secret Carrot Cake


  • 2 cups flour of choice (If you use gluten free, add 3 tablespoons additional flour))
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda (If you go gluten free, add an additional teaspoon of baking soda)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cup cooking oil
  • 4 eggs (slightly beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • ½ cup walnuts (optional - we never opted for nuts)


Step 1
Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Step 2
In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Add the carrots and the nuts (if you are nuts☺).
Step 3
Grease very well a fluted bundt pan. If you want it to come out perfectly, you might want to butter the pan and flour it. I’m far too lazy for that and only spray it, but also suffer the consequences.
Step 4
Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out fairly clean.
Step 5
Let cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, and then invert it onto a cooling rack and pray that it will come out unscathed. But don’t worry, if it doesn’t I have another secret for you. Let cool completely before you frost it.
Step 6
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened (For dairy free substitute Kite Hill or Daiya cream cheese style spreads)
½ cup butter, at room temperature (For dairy free substitute Earth's Balance butter sticks)
3 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
Step 7
Blend the cream cheese and butter together.
Step 8
Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and then whip to a smooth and silky consistency. There is a ridiculous amount of frosting in this batch. And as a result it hides all of the sins that the bundt pan may have committed. If large chunks of the cake stay in the pan, you can remove them and set them onto the cake and frost over the whole thing. If they are small pieces left in the pan, snack on them while you are impatiently waiting for the cake to cool.
Step 9
Carefully move the cake to the plate/platter that you will use for serving and then slather the frosting over the top 2/3 of the cake. I typically leave a space of bare cake at the bottom. I don’t have a good reason as to why. The frosting covers any problems you may have had and I assure you that everyone will devour it and not notice any imperfections!

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