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Southern Mayonnaise Carrot Cake

Beignets, Butter, and Bourbon
 


There are very few recipes I’ve found that are as flexible and forgiving as my mom’s Southern mayonnaise carrot cake recipe. Mom’s recipe has been tested and tried and retested, and it comes out perfectly every single time. Surprisingly, this cake has no butter. Yet, this Southern mayonnaise carrot cake has a beautiful depth of flavor and is one of the moistest cakes you’ll ever eat. With the spices, it is one of my favorite cakes for fall!

Mayonnaise and Applesauce in Carrot Cake

There are few things Southerners love more than Mayonnaise. We put it in most things (throw it in mac and cheese, it’ll change your life!). A lot of people use sour cream in cakes, mayonnaise is a similar experience. Like sour cream, it provides a lot of fat and moisture to your recipe. If you’re too freaked out by mayonnaise in your cake, I get it. Use the sour cream, but I swear to you, you will not regret using the mayonnaise.

This cake is very forgiving if you want to make substitutions. I frequently forget to buy applesauce, so I will just double up the mayonnaise. Or, if you are out of both mayonnaise and applesauce, you can substitute sour cream or even greek yogurt! Simply do a one to one conversion, and you are good to go!

Why do nuts turn black in the baked cake?

I wondered this myself, and it turns out that it’s the baking soda! Apparently, the baking soda reacts to the skin of walnuts and pecans, turning them black as the cake bakes. There is no harm done in the process. The nuts don’t change flavor, and they stay just as tasty!

A slice of Southern mayonnaise carrot cake with a bite on a fork.

 

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  • Prep time: 45 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Total time: 2 hours
  • Serves: 2-layer 10" cake

There are very few recipes I’ve found that are as flexible and forgiving as my mom’s carrot cake recipe. Mom’s recipe has been tested and tried and retested, and it comes out perfectly every single time. Despite not having any butter, this carrot cake has a beautiful depth of flavor and is one of the moistest cakes you’ll ever eat. With the spices, it is one of my favorite cakes for fall!

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1/4 cup canola oild
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 cups butter
  • 16 oz cream cheese
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract

Instructions

Cake

  • 1)

    Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 3 9-inch (or 2 deep 10 inch) cake pans and line the bottoms with a circle of parchment paper.

  • 2)

    Beat the oil, mayonnaise, applesauce, sugar, and eggs until well blended.  Combine dry ingredients and add in stages to wet ingredients, beating slowly until just blended.  Fold in carrots and nuts.

  • 3)

    Pour evenly into prepared pans.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes (9 inch) or 50-60 minutes (10 inch).  It is done when you can insert a knife or toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.  Cool completely in the pans.  DO NOT remove while still warm.

Frosting and Assembly

  • 1)

    Beat butter and cream cheese until fully blended and smooth.  Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating well.  If you find it too thick, add milk a teaspoon at a time.

  • 2)

    Remove the layers as you add them to the cake from the pan.  You will frost the inside, top, and sides.  Decorate with pecans.  This cake should remain in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat it!

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