color me happy – tri-color ginger-orange carrot cake

color me happy – tri-color ginger-orange carrot cake

Happy New Year! I just returned from a 3-week trip to Hong Kong and Malaysia—and came back inspired by the great cuisine of those two countries.  I’ll need to test and experiment before I can present them to you.

To be honest, after a long vacation of serious eating, all I want to do is chew on ice cubes. Well, that won’t last, but I do want to get back to healthy eating and lots of exercise. It’s my return-to-normal New Year’s resolution.

When it comes to eating healthy in the form of a dessert, I always think of carrots—partly because it’s a vegetable and mostly because I love carrot cake. It’s a perfect comfort food for these cold winter days.

For a New Year’s twist, I used carrots of different colors. It takes little more effort to create three batters—and the result is a stunning fun layer cake ready for your fork.


Tri-color Ginger-Orange Carrot Cake


  • 2-1/2 cups (12-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 ground cloves
  • 6 ounces purple carrots, peeled & grated
  • 6 ounces orange carrots, peeled & grated
  • 6 ounces white carrots, peeled & grated
  • 1-1/2 cups (10-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 5 tablespoons (2-12 ounces) unsalted butter softened
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1-1/4 cups (5 ounces) confectioners’ sugar


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350℉. Spray three 8-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment and spray parchment.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger and salt in large bowl; set aside. Whisk cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into a small bowl, set aside.

3. In a large bowl whisk all sugars, eggs, vanilla and orange zest until thoroughly combined, about 30-40 seconds. While whisking, add oil in a steady stream. Whisk until the mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 1 minute. Fold in crystallized ginger, and the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.

4. Divide batter evenly into three bowls. add each color carrots into one bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoons nutmeg and cloves into the purple carrot batter, stir to combine. Divide cinnamon mixture be evenly between orange and purple carrot batter, stir to combine. Pour each batter into prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick or inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 22-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Cool cakes in pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove cakes from pans and cool on lightly greased wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with blade attachment, process cream cheese, butter, and orange juice and zest until combined, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners’ sugar and process until smooth, about 20 seconds.


1. Trim cake layers if necessary to remove domed top. Place purple carrot layer on a cake stand or serving platter, spread a layer of frosting evenly on top. Place orange carrot layer and spread frosting evenly on top. Repeat with white carrot layer and spread remaining frosting on top and sides of cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and serve. (Cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 3 days.)