Make The Perfect Carrot Cake
What’s the best thing about carrot cake? The cream cheese frosting!! Am I right!?!? I love a light, tender, moist carrot cake with a little crunch and not to much add ons. Save the raisins and pineapple for another cake (My hubby would pick each and every one of them out). Bring on the pecan or walnuts though. At least that’s how I like mine. I have tried several recipes but a few years ago I found a total winner courtesy of Ree Drummond (Sigrid’s Carrot Cake recipe). No surprise, her recipes never disappoint. This is my favourite recipe for carrot cake. Its 100 percent made from scratch and so adaptable as well and hope it becomes one of you favourites too.
A carrot cake made with basic pantry ingredients
This one in particular is so simple and comes out perfect every time. No crazy ingredients that I have to hunt down and then never use again and get lost in the pantry. Just your basic flour, carrots, oil, eggs…..you get the picture. I’m a butter fan when it comes to baking but really it’s the oil that gives this cake and all cakes made with oil their moistness and keeps the cake light at the same time. That’s really what you want in a cake, otherwise it’s more like a bread.
The only thing I modify when I make it is that I don’t bake it in bundt pan. I bake it in two 9 inch cake pans and layer it with frosting in the middle and a nice slathering on top. It ends up looking rustic chic! If you do like the add ins, this recipe definitely allows for them. So feel free to toss in some raisins, sultanas, currants, coconut shavings and pineapple to taste.
Carrot Cake Ingredients:
- Carrots - I like to do 2 cups of grated carrots but feel free to increase amount by 1 cup if you prefer a really moist and dense cake - this cake is more light and and fluffy
- Flour - can be made with GF all purpose 1-1 flour too
- Eggs - large and room temperature
- Vegetable oil - a neutral one like canola oil or even olive oil for a richer flavour
- Cinnamon - feel free to add whatever warming spices you like like nutmeg, allspice, or ginger too and also feel free to add more or less of the cinnamon to taste and flavor
- Baking Powder & Soda
- Sugar - feel free to reduce amount to 1¾ cups if you prefer it a less sweet. Feel free to do half granulated and half brown sugar if you like too
- Vanilla - pure vanilla extract is what I recommend
- Salt - just a pinch
- Cream Cheese, Butter & Powdered sugar or confectioners’ sugar for the frosting
- Extra add in: you can add up to 1½ cups of add ins like chopped nuts, (nuts are optional) raisins shredded coconut, you can replace some of the grated carrots with crushed pineapple too
How to bake a carrot cake in a pan
The change in pan makes for a change in time in the oven. I split the batter between the two pans and baking time is 30-35 minutes depending on your oven, which is different form the original recipe using a Bundt and baking for 50 minutes. The recipe makes 2 nine inch cakes. To make this layered one I made this recipe twice (you can double the recipe if you have 4 pans or make it once and half the recipe for a single cake) and froze one of the layers because I thought 4 layers would be way too much. I also doubled the icing recipe because you can never have too much icing!! For more details about all the many ways you can bake this batter recipe make sure to read the recipe notes carefully below
Simple steps to making Carrot Cake:
- Grate Carrots - as fine as you like
- Prepare pans: grease and line pans as needed
- Whisk Dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices 1. Whisk by hand or beat with an electric mixer the eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla until smooth
- Mix dry ingredients to the wet with a rubber spatula, wooden spoon or mixer
- Fold in the grated carrots and extra add ins with a spatula or mixer
- Transfer cake batter to prepared pan or pans and bake until the tops of the cake layers are springy when touched and when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out mostly clean.
- Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks, peel off parchment paper and cool completely before placing on serving platter and icing. (If you find that a cake layer is stuck to the bottom of the pan, leave the cake pan upside down and allow gravity to do its thing).
It’s great for dinner parties, and potlucks. It’s a crowd-pleaser for sure. The best part is that it’s easy to make, it comes out deliciously moist every time and hey, you get a little veg in your dessert to! Give it a try and tell me what you think and if you have a favorite recipe for this classic!
For more carrot inspired recipes and cakes you will love, make sure to check these out:
- Carrot Cake Loaf (Quick Bread)
- Spiced Roasted Carrot Dip
- Spiced Roasted Carrots With Sumac Whipped Feta
- Brown Butter Garlic Maple Roasted Carrots
- Lemon Bundt Cake
- Coffee cake
For the cake
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups grated carrots
- Butter, for greasing
For Cream Cheese Icing
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup pecans, chopped finely
For the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare pans greasing them generously and lining with parchment paper if desired.
- Whisk or beat together the granulated sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and eggs in a large bowl with a electric hand mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment.
- In a separate medium size bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
- Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat until combined.
- Then add the carrots and mix well to combine. (Fold in any extras at this point)
- Pour the cake batter into prepared pan and bake (Bundt pan approx 50 minutes. If using 2 9-inch pans, bake for 30-35 minutes, same for 9x13 inch pan and for cupcakes approx 20 min)
- Leave to cool completely. (10 min then flip out if making into a bundt)
- Frost and assemble as desired.
For the icing
- In a larger bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese together.
- Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and blend.
- Then mix in the pecans or walnuts if using.
- Spread the icing on the cooled carrot cake.
- How to Make Carrot Cake CUPCAKES: This recipe can easily be converted to cupcakes recipes, I recommend baking them for 18-20 minutes (or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean). Then let them cool for a few minutes in the cupcake pan before transferring them to a cooling rack. The recipe should make 22 to 24 cupcakes.
- Using a BUNDT pan: a 10-cup or 12-cup Bundt pan should be fine for this recipe. You will likely need to increase the baking time by about 30% in the 10-cup pan, somewhat less in the 12-cup. Approx 50-60 min
- Using a 9-inch by 13-inch pan RECTANGULAR pan: Simply add all the batter to the rectangular pan and bake. The bake time should be similar.
- How fine should I grate my carrots? I like to do half medium half fine but whatever grade you prefer is fine here (sorry for the unintentional puns)
- How to store carrot cake The cake can keep covered unfrosted at room temperature for up to two days. If it is frosted it should be refrigerated. It will last up to four days in the fridge.Just bring it to room temperature (for about an hour or so) before serving.
- Can you Freeze Carrot Cake?Yes, you can actually freeze Carrot Cake baked and frosted! It is best to refrigerate it for about 6-8 hours before freezing so the frosting firms up. Before placing it in the freezer, be sure to wrap it well in plastic wrap then either place it in an air tight bag or container. If you prefer to freeze the cakes before frosting that is fine too, just wrap it the same way. The cake can be frozen for up to 4 months, if frosted its best to thaw in the fridge before serving.
Original recipe courtesy of Foodnetwork