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Carrot Cake

The sweetness of carrots, fragrant spices and a healthy layer of cream cheese – this recipe has everything that's wonderful about this irresistible classic. Bookmark this Carrot Cake recipe now!
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carrot cake with cream cheese icing

The natural sweetness of carrots and subtle, fragrant spices in a soft, moist crumb cake – all slathered in a cream cheese icing. No wonder Carrot Cake is such a popular choice.

I love Carrot Cake, and I’ve tested (and sampled!) quite a few to come up with my own version of the BEST Carrot Cake recipe ever.

slice of pumpkin cake

Recipe for Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

There are SO MANY recipes for Carrot Cake out there.

Oil or butter?

Nuts or not?

Which spices?

Pineapple or not?

What type of sugar?

When coming up with this recipe, I had plenty of material to work with. Here are just a few of the recipes in my collection.

carrot cake recipes
So many carrot cake recipes! From various community cookbooks.

The sheer volume of recipes tells us one thing for sure: this is a hugely popular cake.

I was a little overwhelmed by all these recipes, but then I remembered I’ve eaten a LOT of carrot cake in my time. Surely I could sort the good from the ordinary and find the great amongst the good.

And I think I did!

This recipe is based on a few that were in the collection. I couldn’t find a particular one that seemed to have everything I was looking for, so I pulled bits from here and there together and was thrilled with the result.

Why a ring cake tin?

This cake is best made in a ring cake tin (21cm approx) or loaf tin.

I noticed about 80% of the older recipes suggested a ring tin for carrot cake.

Why?

Well it cooks more evenly and, given it’s a cake that is prone to sinking in the middle, is a safer option for success.

Once again, our nans knew best!

Another great reason, I reckon, is that you get more surface to cover with that delicious cream cheese icing.

You can find ring tins at kitchenware or online shops or, if you want a more affordable option, I often see them at op shops.

As I mentioned above, you can use a loaf pan, however the ring tin also looks so pretty.

Ingredients for Carrot Cake

To make this recipe you’ll need these ingredients:

  • vegetable oil
  • caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • eggs
  • cinnamon
  • mixed spice
  • salt
  • bicarb soda
  • carrots
  • walnuts
  • canned crushed pineapple
  • SR flour (or plain/all-purpose flour + baking powder).

Ingredients quantities can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post.

carrot cake ingredients.

Why put pineapple in carrot cake?

Pineapple adds in extra moisture without increasing the oil content and adds a mild tang to the flavour profile. Quite simply, it makes your Carrot Cake that little bit more wonderful.

How to make Carrot Cake

Prepping

Get ready to bake by:

  • pre-heating the oven to moderate (180 degrees celsius, 355 degrees fahrenheit)
  • greasing the cake tin and lining with baking paper.

Let’s make cake!

Beat the oil, sugar and eggs on high in a stand mixer for 5 minutes or until pale and creamy.

Add the cinnamon, mixed spice, salt and bicarb soda and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds or until combined.

You’ll need to grate the carrot, chop the walnuts and drain the crushed pineapple – then add all these to the mix and beat on lowest speed until combined.

Next, add the sifted flour and mix on low speed until combined.

Let’s bake!

Spoon the batter into the cake tin.

Place into pre-heated oven and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out of the tin onto a cooling tray.

Allow to cool completely before icing.

making carrot cake

Cream Cheese Icing for Carrot Cake

In my book, cream cheese icing is an absolute must when it comes to carrot cake.

The complementary flavours and texture makes carrot cake and sweet cream cheese icing a timeless and harmonious match.

To make the cream cheese icing you’ll need:

  • cream cheese (the block not the spread)
  • butter
  • vanilla extract
  • icing sugar (confectioners/powdered sugar).

Ingredient quantities can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post.

cream cheese icing ingredients

Get the cream cheese and butter out of the fridge to soften at least half an hour before you make the icing.

Cut the cream cheese and butter into cubes and beat together with the icing sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy.

Once the cake has cooled completely, spread the icing over the cake – keeping a few tablespoons of the icing aside to create your “carrot” decorations.

Icing and Decorating your Homemade Carrot Cake

Colour the remaining icing with orange colouring.

Using a piping bag and a small plain tip (or a zip lock bag with the tip of one corner cut out), pipe carrot shapes around the top of the cake by moving the nozzle from side to side in a downward direction, making the movements smaller and smaller until you reach an end point (the bottom of the carrot).

Place a small piece of parsley in the top of the carrot.

You can also pipe small circles around the bottom of the cake and add a parsley sprig in the middle (to resemble carrot tops that are ready to be pulled from the garden bed).

Sprinkle some chopped walnuts at the bottom of the carrots to resemble the garden bed.

carrot cake

Recipe FAQs

Q. How long does Carrot Cake keep?

Make sure you keep Carrot Cake in the fridge in an airtight container. If you store it like this, it should keep for up to a week.

Q. Can I freeze Carrot Cake?

Yes, you can – including if you’ve already iced it with the cream cheese. Just be sure to wrap it well in food wrap.

Q. Is carrot cake healthy?

Carrot Cake contains carrots and nuts, both of which are “healthy”. However, the sugar and oil would suggest this cake doesn’t fall into the “health food” category.

But try sitting down to a cup of tea with a stick of carrot vs a piece of carrot cake!

Q. Do you have other recipes with carrots?

I have a lovely Carrot Pudding recipe and a carrot-themed pastry sweet you may like.

Q. What about cake? Do you have more old fashioned recipes?

Sure. You might like to check out my recipes for Swiss Roll, Sultana Cake, Texas Sheet Cake, Coconut Cake, Sponge Cake, Victoria Sponge, Choc Ripple Cake and Pumpkin Cake.

carrot cake with cream cheese icing

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

The sweetness of carrots, fragrant spices and a healthy layer of cream cheese – this recipe has everything that's wonderful about this irresistible classic. Bookmark this Carrot Cake recipe now!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Australian
Keyword: carrot cake
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 229kcal

Equipment

  • ring cake tin (21cm) or loaf tin (24 x 13cm)

Ingredients

Carrot Cake

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 2-3 small/med carrots)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup canned crushed pineapple (227 grams), drained
  • 1 1/3 cups SR flour (or plain/all-purpose flour + 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder)

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 250 grams cream cheese (block not spread)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (60 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup icing sugar (confectioners/powdered sugar)

Decorating

  • orange colouring, a few sprigs of curly leaf parsley and a little extra chopped walnuts (to decorate)

Instructions

Carrot Cake

  • Pre-heat oven to moderate (180 degrees celsius, 355 degrees fahrenheit).
  • Grease the cake tin and line with baking paper.
  • Beat oil, sugar and eggs on high for 5 minutes or until pale and creamy.
  • Add cinnamon, mixed spice, salt and bicarb soda and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds or until combined.
  • Add grated carrot, chopped walnuts and drained crushed pineapple and mix on low speed until combined.
  • Add sifted flour and mix on low speed until combined.
  • Spoon mixture into the cake tin.
  • Bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out of the tin onto a cooling tray.
  • Allow to cool completely before icing.

Cream Cheese Icing

  • Allow cream cheese and butter to soften out of fridge for at least half an hour.
  • Cut cream cheese and butter into cubes and beat together with the icing sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy.
  • Spread the icing over the cake, keeping a few tablespoons of icing aside to create your "carrot" decorations.

Decorating

  • Colour remaining icing with orange colouring.
  • Using a piping bag and a small plain tip (or a zip lock bag with the tip of one corner cut out), pipe carrot shapes around the top of the cake by moving the nozzle from side to side in a downward direction, making the movements smaller and smaller until you reach an end point (the bottom of the carrot). Place a small piece of parsley in the top of the carrot.
  • You can also pipe small circles around the bottom of the cake and add a parsley sprig in the middle (to resemble carrot tops that are ready to be pulled from the garden bed).
  • Sprinkle some chopped walnuts at the bottom of the carrots to resemble the garden bed.
  • Store in the fridge for up to one week.

Nutrition

Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 218mg | Potassium: 114mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 2296IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 1mg
Recipe Rating




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Cathrine

Friday 11th of August 2023

Please could you also do metric as we in South Africa use metric, Your cake looks beautiful and will be trying soon. If I change the flour for gluten free will it make a huge difference. Thanks for the Recipe Cathrine

Libby Hakim

Friday 11th of August 2023

Hi Cathrine. I do generally try to include both – not sure why I haven't here but I will update it when I get a chance. It's a lovely cake, one of my favourites. Sending best wishes from Australia :)

Pat

Friday 2nd of June 2023

So yummy

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