Nanny’s Carrot Cake

Every year when I was growing up in Porterdale, my Mama baked carrot and coconut cakes for Christmas. Her carrot cake was my favorite, because it didn’t have all the extra ingredients that most people put into them, like raisins and a lot of spices. In fact, the only spice she used was cinnamon. 

After I married and moved to our farm in Newborn, I cooked a lot, but I never attempted to bake one of Mama’s cakes until I needed one for a coworker’s birthday. It turned out that my coworker wasn’t a fan of carrot cake because of the raisins and other add-ins, so I told her she really needed to try my mother’s version. Well, she loved it, and everyone else did, too, because I came home with an empty plate. I still felt a little apprehensive about my baking skills but decided to try making another one to take to church. 

Mama—everyone called her Nanny—had been in heaven for a while, but I talked to her while I was mixing the batter. “Ok, I’m making this,” I said. “I hope I make you proud.” My friends at church loved it and said they were certain I had indeed made her proud. Mama always grated the carrots by hand, and I do the same. She also always said to make everything with love, and that’s exactly what I try to do. Maybe that’s the real secret ingredient.

by Wanda Polk

Ingredients (Cake)

• 2 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1½ cups vegetable oil
• 2 cups sugar
• 4 eggs
• 2 cups freshly grated carrots

Ingredients (Icing)

• ½ cup softened margarine
• 1 eight-ounce package cream cheese, softened
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 pound confectioner’s sugar
• 1 cup chopped nuts

“I hope I make you proud.”

Wanda Polk


Prepare three round 8-inch baking pans by greasing and flouring them. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside. In another bowl, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to combine the oil and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour mixture to the bowl, mixing continuously. Stir in carrots. Spoon the batter equally into the three prepared cake pans. Bake for approximately 30–35 minutes or until the top of the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans. Cool fully before frosting. To make the nut icing, use a mixer to cream the margarine and cream cheese together until light. Add vanilla, then gradually add powdered sugar, beating constantly. Stir in nuts then spread over cooled cake layers, stacking them together to make one three-layer cake. 

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  1. I ate a few pieces of these cakes over the years. Wanda’s Mama and I were best friends for more than 50 years until she went to be with the Lord. I still miss her as Much today as the day she left us 7 years ago today. Until we meet again my precious friend.

  2. This sweet lady was one of the BEST woman I have ever known! She helped so many and was loved by SO many! This lady was my sister in law that I loved dearly.. If you never meet her, you totally missed out! Love and miss you SO very much, Sandra.. I can’t wait to make this! Thanks for sharing, Wanda.

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