My Ultimate Carrot Cake with Candied Carrot Peels recipe is one of my favorites and one of the most popular posts on my website. I make it a lot. For birthdays, for Tuesdays, for family gatherings, it was the first cake my boys ate, because I could justify giving a baby cake, if it had carrots. I’m not suggesting it replace baby food, but for their first birthday cakes, it was my go to. I put this cake and many more of my all time favorites into my new book, Zoë Bakes Cakes: Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Favorite Layers, Bundts, Loaves, and More:
I was inspired to use the whole carrot after making Cenk Sönmezsoy’s Perfect Apple Pie, which uses every single bit of the apple to make the pie, core, peel and seeds are all used to extract as much apple flavor as possible. I love that he didn’t waste a bit of the fruit. I usually peel the carrots and toss them away into the composter, which honestly doesn’t cause me too much guilt, but why not use them for the cake? I just washed the carrots, peeled them and candied the peels. They go through several stages while baking. First they turn to carrot leather, chewy and soft, then they dehydrate fully and turn to a snappy, brittle, sweet, but earthy candy. Delicious.
You can watch me make the cake and carrot candy (plus a picture of my son eating his first carrot cake – 19 years ago) in my instagram video and recipe below.
Ultimate Carrot Cake with Candied Carrot Peels
Carrot Peel Candy
Peels from 2 pounds organic carrots, washed – You want to make sure you get a nice thick peel, if they are too thin, they will fall apart while you candy them. My peeler produces just the right thickness, but you may need to press a bit harder to get a nice peel.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon orange blossom water or 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
Bring sugar, water, orange essence, and salt to a simmer, cook until the sugar has melted. Add carrot peels and gently simmer until the carrot peels are turning translucent. Strain the peels and lay them out on a silpat. See my instagram video to watch me make the carrot peel candy.
Bake at 200°F until the carrot peels start to curl up, can be 30-60 minutes, depending on how thick they are. Turn the oven to 100°F and bake until completely dry, this can take up to several hours. Keep in a dry place until ready to use. Once you put them on the cake you want to serve it. If you refrigerate the carrot peel candy it will wilt.
To assemble the cake:
I split the cake layers in half, then layered each with the cream cheese icing and covered the outside with more icing. Then I decorated the outside with the candied carrot peels.