Discover the joy of homemade carrot cake with our easy-to-follow recipe. Moist, spiced layers, a decadent cream cheese frosting, and a touch of nostalgia await. Today, bake one and enjoy the sweet moments.

Carrot cake is a beloved classic in the world of baking, known for its moist and flavorful crumb that combines the earthy sweetness of carrots with warm, aromatic spices. This delectable dessert has a rich history dating back to the early 20th century, with its roots in Europe, and has since become a staple in many households and bakeries around the world. One of the key attributes that sets a great carrot cake apart is its remarkable moistness, which comes from the inclusion of finely grated carrots and often other ingredients like crushed pineapple or applesauce. The resulting cake is a delightful fusion of textures and flavors, and it’s often crowned with a luscious cream cheese frosting, making it a delightful treat for any occasion, from simple family gatherings to elaborate celebrations.

The secret to achieving the perfect moist carrot cake lies not only in the choice of ingredients but also in the method of preparation. This tantalizing dessert typically features a blend of grated carrots, aromatic spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, as well as chopped nuts and raisins. These elements contribute to both the cake’s exceptional taste and its irresistible moistness. In addition to the wonderful taste, carrot cake is often considered a healthier dessert option due to the presence of carrots, which add a dose of vitamins and fiber. Whether you’re a carrot cake enthusiast or new to this delightful confection, this moist carrot cake recipe promises to be a delightful journey for your taste buds and a testament to the magic that can happen in the kitchen.

Reasons to love this carrot cake

  • Irresistible Moistness: One of the standout features of carrot cake is its exceptional moistness. The finely grated carrots and other moisture-retaining ingredients like pineapple or applesauce ensure that every bite is tender and juicy, providing a delightful contrast to the slightly crunchy bits of grated carrot.
  • Warm and Spicy Flavors: Carrot cake is bursting with warm and aromatic flavors. The combination of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves infuse the cake with a comforting and homey essence. These spices work harmoniously with the sweetness of the carrots, creating a flavor profile that’s not overly sugary but still satisfyingly sweet.
  • Versatile Adaptability: Carrot cake is incredibly versatile. You can adjust the recipe to suit your preferences, whether that means adding nuts, raisins, or even coconut for extra texture and flavor. The adaptability of this cake allows you to tailor it to your taste, making it a personalized and cherished dessert.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting: The heavenly pairing of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is another reason to adore it. The tangy and slightly sweet cream cheese frosting complements the earthy sweetness of the cake perfectly. This combination creates a delectable harmony that’s hard to resist.
  • Nostalgia and Tradition: For many people, carrot cake is not just a dessert; it’s a cherished tradition. It’s a timeless recipe that has been passed down through generations, evoking feelings of nostalgia and family gatherings. Enjoying carrot cake can be a way to connect with the past and create new memories for the future

In summary, the moist, flavorful, and adaptable nature of carrot cake, combined with its potential health benefits and the delightful cream cheese frosting, make it a dessert worth falling in love with. It’s a cake that’s not only delicious but also heartwarming and steeped in tradition, making it a favorite for many.

carrot cake, sliced

Ingredients for Carrot Cake

Here are the key ingredients for making a classic carrot cake, along with brief descriptions of each

  • Oil: Any mild-flavored oil will do. I typically use vegetable oil, but you can use avocado or canola oil. That would work too.
  • Sugars: both granulated (white) and brown sugar.
  • Eggs and vanilla extract: give the cake the texture and some flavor
  • Flour: I always indulge here with classic all-purpose flour. But you’re welcome to sub in white whole wheat flour instead.
  • Spices: ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
  • Spices: ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
  • Baking soda and baking powder: This recipe uses both.
  • Salt: I used fine sea salt. If you only have iodized (table) salt, I would recommend using a little less.
  • Freshly-grated carrots: Either grate them by hand with a box grater, use the shredding attachment on a food processor, or save yourself a step and buy them pre-grated.
  • (Optional add-ins): Feel free to also include chopped nuts (such as pecans or walnuts), shredded coconut, and/or raisins if you would like.
  • Cream cheese frosting: made easily with cream cheese, butter, salt, vanilla, and powdered sugar
carrot cake ingredients

How to Make Carrot Cake

  • Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 300°F to roast your chopped nuts and then increase the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
  • Mix Dry Ingredients: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Set this dry mixture aside.
  • Combine Wet Ingredients: In another bowl, beat the eggs, then add the granulated sugar, vegetable oil, apple sauce, and grated carrots. Mix until well combined.
  • Combine Wet and Dry Mixtures: Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, stirring until the ingredients are fully incorporated. If desired, fold in chopped nuts and raisins.
  • Bake: Pour the cake batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
  • Cool: Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. Then, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Prepare the Frosting: In a mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese and butter until creamy and smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, continuing to beat until the frosting is smooth and well mixed.
  • Frost the Cake: Once the cakes are completely cool, spread a layer of cream cheese frosting on top of one of the cakes. Place the second cake on top and frost the top and sides of the entire cake.
  • Decorate (Optional): You can decorate the cake with additional chopped nuts, or any other decorations of your choice.
  • Serve: Slice and serve your delicious homemade carrot cake. Enjoy!
carrot cake ingredients

Tips and Suggestions

  • Fresh Carrots: Use freshly grated carrots for the best flavor and moisture. Avoid pre-packaged shredded carrots, as they can be drier.
  • Mixing Technique: Avoid over-mixing the batter, as it can lead to a dense cake. Mix until the ingredients are combined.
  • Pineapple Drainage: If you’re adding crushed pineapple, be sure to drain it well to avoid excess moisture in the cake.
  • Cooling: Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. This prevents them from becoming too fragile when handling.

Variations

Certainly! There are numerous ways to create variations in a carrot cake to suit your taste preferences. Here are some popular options:

  • Coconut: Incorporate shredded coconut into the batter for a tropical twist and extra chewiness.
  • Pineapple: Add crushed pineapple (well-drained) to the batter for a burst of tropical flavor and added moisture
  • Citrus Zest: Enhance the cake’s aroma with citrus zest like orange or lemon, which pairs well with the sweetness of the carrots.
  • Buttermilk: Use buttermilk in place of regular milk for a tangy twist and a tender crumb.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you keep carrot cake fresh?

To keep carrot cake fresh, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This helps maintain its moisture and prevents it from drying out. Enjoy within a few days for the best taste and texture.

How long does carrot cake last?

In the refrigerator, frosted carrot cake should last around 5 days (unfrosted layers can be kept at room temperature for 2 days).

Can I make carrot cake cupcakes instead of a traditional cake?

Yes, you can easily adapt a carrot cake recipe to make cupcakes. Adjust the baking time accordingly; cupcakes usually take less time to bake than a full cake.

Can this carrot cake recipe be frozen?

Yes, you can easily adapt a carrot cake recipe to make cupcakes. Adjust the baking time accordingly; cupcakes usually take less time to bake than a full cake.

How do you keep carrot cake fresh?

Keeping carrot cake fresh involves proper storage and handling techniques to prevent it from drying out or becoming stale. Here are some steps to help you keep your carrot cake fresh:

Cool the Cake
Allow the carrot cake to cool completely before attempting to store it. Hot or warm cake can create condensation inside the storage container, leading to sogginess.

Wrap It Well
Once the cake has cooled, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Ensure that the wrap is snug to prevent air from getting in. This helps maintain moisture inside the cake.

Use an Airtight Container
Alternatively, you can place the wrapped cake in an airtight container. This provides an extra layer of protection against moisture and air. Make sure the container is clean and dry before placing the cake inside.

Store at Room Temperature
If you plan to consume the cake within a day or two, it can be stored at room temperature. Keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Be cautious if your room is particularly warm, as this can cause the cake to spoil more quickly.

Refrigerate for Longer Storage
If you want to keep the carrot cake fresh for a longer period, store it in the refrigerator. Place the wrapped or containerized cake in the fridge. Cold storage will help preserve the cake’s freshness for up to a week.

Cool the Cake
Allow the carrot cake to cool completely before attempting to store it. Hot or warm cake can create condensation inside the storage container, leading to sogginess.

Wrap It Well
Once the cake has cooled, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Ensure that the wrap is snug to prevent air from getting in. This helps maintain moisture inside the cake.

Use an Airtight Container
Alternatively, you can place the wrapped cake in an airtight container. This provides an extra layer of protection against moisture and air. Make sure the container is clean and dry before placing the cake inside.

Store at Room Temperature
If you plan to consume the cake within a day or two, it can be stored at room temperature. Keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Be cautious if your room is particularly warm, as this can cause the cake to spoil more quickly.

Refrigerate for Longer Storage:
If you want to keep the carrot cake fresh for a longer period, store it in the refrigerator. Place the wrapped or containerized cake in the fridge. Cold storage will help preserve the cake’s freshness for up to a week.

Can this carrot cake recipe be frozen?

Yes, you can easily adapt a carrot cake recipe to make cupcakes. Adjust the baking time accordingly; cupcakes usually take less time to bake than a full cake.

carrot cake 1

The Best Carrot Cake Recipe

This carrot cake is truly the greatest, with its amazing spice taste, wonderfully moist texture, and silky cream cheese icing.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 29 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Switzerland, United Kingdom
Servings 12 Servings
Calories 490 kcal

Ingredients
  

Carrot Cake

  • 2 cups pecans, chopped optional can also use walnuts
  • 1-1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil or melted coconut oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup unsweetened apple sauce smooth
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 cups grated carrots about 4 large
  • 1 cup raisins optional
  • 1 cup coconut optional

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces Cream Cheese Softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup butter unsalted Softened to room temperature
  • 4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla

Instructions
 

Carrot Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 degrees Celsius) before beginning. Use parchment paper or a silicone mat to line a large baking sheet. Toast the chopped pecans for 7-8 minutes on a baking sheet. After taking it out of the oven, let it cool for 10-15 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). Prepare two or three 9-inch cake pans by greasing them, lining them with parchment paper, and then greasing the parchment paper. The cakes are easier to remove from the pans when they are wrapped in parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla until smooth and no brown sugar lumps remain. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in a separate large mixing basin. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until barely incorporated. Combine the carrots and 1 cup of toasted nuts in a mixing bowl. (The remaining pecans are for decoration.)
  • Pour or spoon the batter into the cake pans in an equal layer. Bake for 20-24 minutes if using three cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes if using two cake pans. Using a toothpick, check the center. The cakes are done when the knife or toothpick comes out clean. If not, continue to bake until the cake is fully done. Don't overcook. Allow the cakes to cool entirely in the pans before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. Before icing and assembling the cakes, they must be entirely cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream the cream cheese and butter together in a large mixing bowl with a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Combine the confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt in a small mixing bowl. After 30 seconds on low speed, move to high speed and beat for 3 minutes, or until totally blended and creamy. If the frosting is too thin, add a little milk if it's too thick, or an add an extra teaspoon of salt if it's too sweet, add more confectioners' sugar. Soft, but not runny, frosting is ideal.
  • To assemble and frost the cakes, first layer off the tops with a broad serrated knife or a cake leveler to produce a flat surface. 1 cake layer should be placed on a cake stand or serving dish. Apply frosting to the top of the cake in an even layer. Top with the second layer, additional frosting, then the third layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Use the leftover roasted nuts to decorate the edges and top of the cake. Before slicing, chill the cake for at least 15-20 minutes. When cutting the cake, this helps it keep its shape.
  • Refrigerate any remaining frosted cake tightly covered for up to 5 days.

Notes

make ahead and freeze instructions: The cake layers can be baked, chilled, and covered tightly overnight at room temperature. Similarly, the frosting can be made ahead of time and then refrigerated overnight. When ready to decorate, let the frosting soften for 15 minutes at room temperature, then give it another mix on medium speed for about 1 minute before icing the cake. Cake layers, frosted or unfrosted, can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. Refrigerate overnight and bring to room temperature before decorating or serving.
Nuts: Walnuts can be used instead of pecans if desired. If you prefer a nut-free carrot cake, leave out the nuts.
Apple sauce: If you like, you can use 3/4 cup crushed pineapple instead of applesauce. Drain the crushed pineapple from the can first. It should have the consistency of applesauce and not be overly wet and watery. 3/4 cup sour cream, or plain yogurt, could be used as well.
Carrot Bundt Cake: Use a 10-12 cup Bundt pan that has been generously oiled. Preheat oven to 350°F and bake for 55-75 minutes. Because all ovens and Bundt pans are different, the bake time will vary. 
Keyword Cake, Carrot, cream cheese, quick
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