MY FAVORITE CARROT CAKE RECIPE
This recipe is perfect to try for a homemade carrot cake. It is so easy to make, perfectly spiced and topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting.
Usually you tend to see carrot cakes making their appearance for Spring, Easter, baby or bridal shower celebrations. But this spiced cake should be enjoyed throughout the year. I have made this recipe many times for different special occasions for my family, and it’s a hit each time.
RECIPE NOTES FOR CAKE
There are many different recipes for carrot cakes, but all are usually very straightforward. There can be some variations in some choice of ingredients. This is a very simple recipe but with depth of flavor and a great crumb that is soft.
- Cinnamon/nutmeg: I have had some carrot cakes that just lack flavor. I love the addition of warm spices. If you really want more of the warm spice flavors, add ginger and cloves, ¼ teaspoon each.
- Vegetable oil: A cake such as this already has a lot of flavor so there is no need to use butter. Use a neutral flavorless cooking oil.
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk improves a cake’s texture and tenderizes the cake. It also helps leavening and the flavor.
- Carrots: Shred fresh carrots at home. The prepackaged shredded carrots can be very dry and large. For 2 cups shredded carrots you may need about 3-4 large carrots.
RECIPE NOTES FOR CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
This is a very basic delicious cream cheese frosting. I recommend you follow this recipe exactly to understand how this frosting is made. Once you are comfortable then you can adjust it to your liking. If you like a more buttery or cream cheese flavor, adjusting the quantities is very easy. This type of frosting that has cream cheese is not for cake decorating, it will not hold the shape. Once you have made or frosted the cake with this, it’s best to keep it refrigerated.
- Butter: Butter needs to be softened to room temperature for this type of frosting. Sit the butter out 1-2 hours before starting. It will be slightly cool to the touch. It should not be too soft or warm. If using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the frosting while mixing.
- Cream Cheese: Please make sure this is full-fat cream cheese that comes in a block. Not the whipped cream cheese in a tub. This also needs to sit out so it becomes soft.
- Confectioners Sugar: Also called icing or powdered sugar. Sift the sugar before or after measuring to get rid of any lumps.
MAKE IT AHEAD
I think this cake really develops its flavor so it’s perfect for making ahead. Bake the cake, wrap the layers individually really well and keep refrigerated 1-2 days. Make frosting and keep in a covered container refrigerated. Once you are ready to frost the cake. Take out icing, let it come to room temperature and whisk and it’s ready. If the cake is frosted ahead, cover and keep refrigerated. Let it come to room temperature or serve cold.
GENERAL BAKING TIPS
- Always preheat the oven before placing the cakes to bake.
- Line your pans with parchment paper. Place the pans on the parchment sheet and trace the bottom of the pan, then cut out the circles. Grease the pan and parchment.
- All cold ingredients need to be at room temperature. This will ensure all ingredients mix well and bake well together.
- Don’t overmix the batter, this can result in a cake that is tough.
- Don’t open the oven door in the middle of baking.
- Allow cakes to cool in the pan at least 30 minutes before taking them out to prevent cracking.
- Don’t frost or decorate a warm cake. The frosting will slip off.
My Favorite Carrot Cake Recipe
- 2 Cups All-purpose flour
- 2 Teaspoons Baking soda
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
- 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
- 3 Eggs (room temperature )
- 3/4 Cup Vegetable or Canola oil
- 3/4 Cup Buttermilk (room temperature)
- 2 Cups Granulated sugar
- 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 2 Cups Peeled and grated carrots (3-4 large carrots )
- 1 Cup Coarsely chopped walnuts (optional. Also need some for garnish )
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 1 1/2 Block Full-fat cream cheese (softened at room temperature )
- 1 1/2 sticks Butter (softened at room temperature)
- 4 Cups sifted powered sugar
- 2 Teaspoons Vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
MAKE THE CAKE
- Turn oven to 350°F. You can make this cake into 2 or 3, 8-inch layers, but baking times will vary. Prepare the pans by greasing the cake pans. Line with parchment paper and grease again. Parchment paper will help release the cake.
- In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, buttermilk, sugar and vanilla until combined. In another medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg until combined. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Using a spatula fold the ingredients together until combined. Don't overmix. Add the carrots and walnuts and mix again.
- Using a measuring cup, evenly pour the batter into the pans. If you are using 2 pans bake for about 35-40 minutes. If using 3 pans cake layers will be thinner so bake for about 20-25 minutes. Center of the cake will set and should spring back with gentle pressure. You can also insert a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean with dry crumbs cake is done. Sides of cake will also pull away that is a sign it's done. Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack in the pans. Let the cakes completely cook before frosting and decorating.
MAKE THE FROSTING
- Make the frosting in a large bowl. Using a handheld mixer beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Start adding the powdered sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt. Start beating on low speed to prevent a sugar mess. Once all sugar has been added turn speed to high and beat until frosting is creamy and smooth. If it's too thin add more powered sugar tablespoon at a time to get desired consistency. Keep the frosting refrigerated until ready to use.
ASSEMBLE AND FROST CAKE
- If the cakes have a dome, using a serrated knife level the tops of the cake. This will give you a flatter surface. Take off the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake.
- Place the 1st layer of cake on a serving plate and evenly cover the top with frosting. Place 2nd layer and frost again. Once you are done with layers, frost the top and sides of cake. Decorate sides or top with walnuts. Refrigerate the cake, this will help set the frosting and make it easier to cut the cake.
- Carrot cake tastes delicious served cold. Leftovers of this cake should be covered to prevent drying and keep refrigerated.