The Best Carrot Cake I’ve Ever Eaten

The original Frog Commissary Carrot Cake
The Original Commissary Carrot Cake (embed from visitphilly.com on Flicker)

The best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten was the one they served at Steve Poses’ long-gone Commissary Restaurant in Philadelphia. That carrot cake was insanely over the top – pecans and raisins in the cake, three layers with pecan cream filling between, cream cheese frosting on the outside with baked coconut topping and an icing carrot on top. I’ve made it before, and it’s incredible. (Though mine never looked as good as the one up there…)

But the original Commissary carrot cake is very, very rich. It’s also a lot of work. As Poses says in his cookbook –

This cake is most easily made if you start it at least a day ahead, since the filling, for one thing, is best left to chill overnight. In fact, the different components can all be made even several days in advance and stored separately until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Right. I can barely get started cooking in time for dinner, let alone start a cake a day ahead of time.

So I started making the cake without the make-ahead filling and the coconut topping, and discovered that I much prefer it that way. This simpler version allows the sumptuous cake flavor and texture to shine, and the pecans and raisins become stars instead of just members of an ensemble cast.

I usually make this cake in a tube pan. But this time, planning to serve the cake as dessert at a small pre-theater dinner at our apartment, I decided that I did not want leftovers to tempt me next day.  So I made individual cakes in a large muffin tin to use that night, and with the rest of the batter made cupcakes that I froze to frost and serve at some later date.

If you want to make the original Commissary Carrot Cake,  Steve Poses has posted the recipe on his blog. Better yet, buy the Commissary Cookbook. The cake was not the only amazing thing on that restaurant’s menu.

CARROT CAKE ala THE COMMISSARY

I used canola oil instead of corn oil. Be sure to use high quality golden raisins ( I got mine at Fairway)  I always wondered how this cake would taste using brown sugar, but never had the nerve to change it. Let me know if you do. 

  • 1 1/4 cups canola oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups grated carrots (about a 1-pound bag)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan (or a large muffin tin and two cupcake tins)

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Whisk oil and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in half the dry ingredients.Then alternately add in the rest of the dry ingredients while adding the eggs, one by one. Combine well. Add the carrots, raisins, and pecans. Pour into prepared pan and bake (70 mins for tube pan, 30-40 mins for large muffin size and 20-30 mins for cupcakes.)  Cool upright in the pan on a cooling rack.

When completely cooled, remove cake from pan and cut into two layers using a serrated knife. Frost.

Cream cheese fosting

  • 8 ounces soft unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces soft cream cheese
  • 1-pound box of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream the butter well, then beat in cream cheese. Add sugar and  vanilla. Refrigerate till use.

12 Responses to The Best Carrot Cake I’ve Ever Eaten

  1. My copy of that cookbook is similarly battered and stained – this inspires me to pull it out and cook from it again. And the full-press cake, with pecan filling, was my sister’s wedding cake.

  2. The Frog Commisary folks will still make the original cake and I had them make one for me for my birthday last week. Not cheap but WONDERFUL (and I didn’t have to buy the ingredients 😉

  3. I always made the cake in the West Indies using “straw sugar” it is equivalent to sugar in the raw or Demerrara sugar. Rest of ingredients were never a problem. Cream cheese was a rarity in the early 80’s but when available, magical!! It was wonderful! Soaking old raisins in rum also added a bit of zip! Many happy memories of Frog/Commissary as a young married in Philadelphia! Food was amazing, my kids all have copies of the cookbook! Family tradition!

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