January 31, 2023

Irkaimboeuf

Food never sleeps.

Carrot Cake Recipe

9 min read
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The only Carrot Cake Recipe, with the richest and creamiest cream cheese frosting, you’ll ever want to have! This deliciously moist cake stands tall with four thick layers and is perfect for so many special occasions, all year long!

Carrot cake recipe on a cake stand with a slice out.


I couldn’t be more excited to share our Carrot Cake Recipe! Seriously though, I love a soft, fluffy and moist carrot cake with super rich and creamy cream cheese frosting and our version is SOLID, I promise! There are also so many great occasions that perfectly call for carrot cake like Easter, Mother’s Day, birthdays, Thanksgiving, and during the holidays. It’s truly a great year-round cake!

What Does Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Taste Like?

Carrot Cake

This Carrot Cake is nicely dense, but still super soft and perfectly moist. It has a bright, spiced flavor from the carrots, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.

The carrots in our cake are finely grated instead of coarsely grated (which is more common) because I like how the finely shredded carrots melt into the layers of cake. Our carrot cake recipe also incorporates currants, instead of raisins, to the cake because we love the tart flavor they add. We also omit the nuts in the actual cake and reserve those for sprinkling over the frosting as more of a garnish.

Cream Cheese Frosting

This is favorite cream cheese frosting EVERRRR and probably frosting in general for that matter! It’s so easy to make and has a ridiculously rich and creamy flavor, with a hint of vanilla.

Most cream cheese frosting recipes you’ll find add a lot more powdered sugar than our recipe calls for. Since I prefer a really rich and decadent frosting we cut the amount of sugar, so you’re really tasting the tangy cream cheese flavor. Since we add less sugar this frosting isn’t the best for piping larger things like big rosettes nor is it great for thick swoops of frosting around the sides of the cake (as the frosting will sag a little), but it’ll work just fine for piping tiny carrots.

How to Make Our Carrot Cake Recipe

Process

CARROT CAKE

Ingredients for carrot cake on a kitchen counter.
  1. Preheat oven. Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg into a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together until evenly combined and no lumps remain.
  1. In another mixing bowl combine butter, sugars, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla.
  2. Whisk together until evenly combined.
  1. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, in thirds, stirring together after each addition.
  2. Once all dry mixture has been added, stir batter until smooth.
  1. Fold carrots and currants into the batter until evenly incorporated.
  2. Lightly grease bottom and sides of 4, 9-inch round cake pans, then line bottoms with parchment paper. Fill each prepared cake pan with equal amounts of batter.
  1. Bake cake rounds until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs on it, when inserted into the center of each round.
  2. Cool cake rounds for 15 minutes. Then remove each cake from cake pans, peel away parchment and transfer to cooling racks. Cool completely. Refrigerate cake layers for at least 2 hours.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Cream cheese frosting ingredients on a counter.
  1. With a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula.
  2. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time and continue to beat together.
  1. Add vanilla and salt and scrape down sides of the bowl.
  2. Continue to beat together until light and fluffy. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of frosting for piping decorative carrots.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Slice off rounded cake tops to level them. (Discard rounded scraps or keep for snacking)
  2. Spread a thin layer of frosting onto the top of one cake round and top with another cake round. Repeat until all cake rounds are stacked into 4 layers with frosting between each layer.
  1. Frost the sides and top with a very thin layer of frosting and refrigerate cake for an hour.
  2. While crumb coated cake chills, divide remaining cup frosting in into two bowls. In one bowl add 2 drops violet food coloring, 3 drops lemon yellow, and 1 to 2 drops leaf green. In the other bowl of frosting add 3 drops of sunset orange food coloring and 1 to 2 drops buckeye brown.
  1. Stir together until completely combined and you produce a moss green color and a slightly pale orange color.
  2. Fill orange frosting in piping bag with round tip and fill green frosting in piping bag with star tip.
  1. Remove chilled cake from the refrigerator and add another layer of frosting. Sprinkle crushed walnuts bits over the sides and top of cake. Refrigerate cake again for 30 minutes.
  2. Using the orange frosting, pipe small (3/4 inch) carrots all over cake. Using the green frosting, pipe stems on top of each carrot.

Variations for Our Recipe

  • Although we use currants in our recipe, you can totally swap them out for raisins or even dried cranberries.
  • We use walnuts to decorate out cake, but pecans or even pistachios can also be used.
  • While we add the walnuts to the outside of the cake, you can definitely fold some into the cake batter along with the carrots and currants, if that’s your preference.
  • If you prefer a more intense spice flavor in your carrot cake you can reduce the amount of cinnamon used to 2 teaspoons and add anywhere from 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of a combination of ground ginger, ground cloves, and ground allspice.
  • You can use an equal amount of crushed pineapple instead of applesauce for our cake.

Tips and Tricks for Success

  • A lot of carrot cake recipes use vegetable oil instead of butter, which helps to keep the cake moist, but we love using butter in our recipe for the flavor and the tender crumb the fat in the butter provides. We also use plenty of applesauce and finely grated carrot to ensure that even without the oil, the cake is still fluffy and moist.
  • When measuring the dry ingredients, we use the scoop and level method. Using this method will give you the most accurate results for our cake!
  • If you would like to be able to pipe large designs onto the cake with our cream cheese frosting, add an additional 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of powdered to the frosting, 1/2 cup at a time, until your desired stiffness has been reached. The frosting will still be delicious, just not as creamy or decadent and it will be sweeter in flavor.
  • The applesauce is an important ingredient in our carrot cake recipe because it adds moisture to the cake, so you’re guaranteed to have a soft and moist cake.
  • It’s important to shred your own carrots! Pre-shredded ones are too thick and dry and won’t add the best flavor or provide the needed moisture for this cake.
  • Unlike a lot of other baking recipes, our carrot cake recipe can be cut in half to make 1 (8″x 8″) cake, with an increased bake time of 36 to 38 minutes.
A carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on a plate.

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions

Make Ahead Carrot Cake

Our carrot cake recipe can be made up to 3 days ahead of time. Bake cakes and cool completely. Once cooled, wrap each round tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Alternatively, the cake can be fully assembled, decorated and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead of time. Set cake out at room temperature for an hour before serving. It’s important to note that the frosted cake can absorb odors from the refrigerator, so you don’t want to let it sit decorated and uncovered for more than 1 day, so the cake tastes as fresh as possible.

Freezing Cake

The cake rounds can be made and frozen for up to 3 months. Bake cakes and cool completely. Once cooled, wrap each round tightly in plastic wrap, then foil (label the foil with the freezing date) and store in an airtight container or a large ziploc bag.

When ready to use, transfer wrapped cake rounds in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

Make Ahead Cream Cheese Frosting

Our cream cheese frosting can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Store frosting in an airtight container and refrigerate.

When ready to use, set frosting out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Transfer frosting to a large mixing bowl and whip with a hand mixer until rich, creamy and smooth.

Freezing Frosting

I don’t really recommend freezing frosting, unless it’s already on the cake. It’s too easy to make, isn’t time consuming and really tastes best when made fresh.

A slice of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on a plate.

More Delicious Cake Recipes You Will Love

Carrot cake recipe on a cake stand.

Carrot Cake Recipe

The only Carrot Cake Recipe, with the richest and creamiest cream cheese frosting, you’ll ever want to have! This deliciously moist cake stands tall with four thick layers and is perfect for so many special occasions, all year long!

PRINT RECIPE

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 28 mins

cooling and chilling time: 1 hr 15 mins

Total Time: 2 hrs 28 mins

Servings: 12

  INSTRUCTIONS  

carrot cake

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease bottom and sides of 4 (9 inch) cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.

  • Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

  • In another mixing bowl combine butter, sugars, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla and whisk together.

  • Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, in thirds, stirring together after each addition.

  • Continue to stir batter until completely combined and no dry spots remain. Fold in carrots and currants.

  • Fill each prepared cake pan evenly with batter.

  • Bake cake rounds in center rack of oven for 24 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs on it, when inserted into the center of each round.

  • Cool cake rounds for 15 minutes. Then remove each cake from cake pans, peel away parchment and transfer to cooling racks. Cool completely. Refrigerate cake layers for at least 2 hours.

cream cheese frosting

  • With a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

  • Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time and continue to beat together.

  • Add vanilla and salt and scrape down sides of the bowl and continue to beat together until light and fluffy. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of frosting.

assembly

  • Slice off rounded cake tops to level them. (Discard cake scraps or keep for snacking)

  • Spread a thin layer of frosting onto the top of one cake round and top with another cake round. Repeat until all cake rounds are stacked into 4 layers with frosting between each layer.

  • Frost the sides and top with a very thin layer of frosting and refrigerate cake for an hour.

  • While crumb coated cake chills, divide remaining cup frosting in 1/2. In one bowl add 2 drops violet food coloring, 3 drops lemon yellow, and 1 to 2 drops leaf green. Stir together until completely combined and you produce a moss green color.

  • In the other bowl of frosting add 3 drops of sunset orange food coloring and 1 to 2 drops buckeye brown. Stir together until completely combined and you produce a moss green color.

  • Fill orange frosting in piping bag with round tip and fill green frosting in piping bag with star tip.

  • Remove chilled cake from the refrigerator and add another layer of frosting. Sprinkle crushed walnuts bits over the sides and top of cake. Refrigerate cake again for 30 minutes.

  • Using the orange frosting, pipe small (3/4 inch) carrots all over cake. Using the green frosting, pipe stems on top of each carrot.

  NOTES  

Tips and Tricks for Carrot Cake Success
  • A lot of carrot cake recipes use oil instead of butter, which helps to keep the cake moist, but we love using butter in our recipe for the flavor and the tender crumb the fat in the butter provides. We also use plenty of applesauce and finely grated carrot to ensure that even without the oil, the cake is still fluffy and moist.
  • When measuring the dry ingredients, we use the scoop and level method. Using this method will give you the most accurate results for our cake!
  • If you would like to be able to pipe large designs onto the cake with our cream cheese frosting, add an additional 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of powdered to the frosting, 1/2 cup at a time, until your desired stiffness has been reached. The frosting will still be delicious, just not as creamy or decadent and it will be sweeter in flavor.
  • The applesauce is an important ingredient in our carrot cake recipe because it adds moisture to the cake, so you’re guaranteed to have a soft and moist cake.
  • It’s important to shred your own carrots! Pre-shredded ones are too thick and dry and won’t add the best flavor or provide the needed moisture for this cake.
  • The recipe can be halved to make 1 (8″x 8″) cake, with an increased bake time of 36 to 38 minutes.
                                                                                       

Calories: 1193kcal Carbohydrates: 162g Protein: 13g Fat: 58g Saturated Fat: 33g Trans Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 225mg Sodium: 808mg Potassium: 441mg Fiber: 4g Sugar: 123g Vitamin A: 7172IU Vitamin C: 3mg Calcium: 208mg Iron: 2mg

CUISINE: American

KEYWORD: cake, carrot, carrot cake, cream cheese frosting, easter cake

COURSE: Dessert


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