My Favorite Carrot Cake
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Dense, yet moist carrot cake layers smothered with sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting. Quick & easy to make with maximum flavor!
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I simply adore carrot cake!! This humble cake attracts people like magnet. 🙂 I feel like I’ve shared every possible way to make a version of it: carrot cupcakes, mini carrot layer cakes (the candied pecans are to die for!) and this classic layer cake!
Why you’ll love this recipe:
Dense, yet moist layers of carrot cake is literally smothered with the most delicious cream cheese frosting.
What I most love about this recipe, besides the frosting, is that every bite is loaded with chewy pecans. Such a fabulous contrast in texture!
And despite heaping 3 cups of carrots, this cake doesn’t taste anything like a vegetable cake. Instead, it’s sweet, tender and moist without hint of carrot taste.
The secret to the moist cake is freshly grated carrots!! I’m all about shortcuts, but grating your carrots is a step worth taking!!
Also, you want to toast the pecans for deeper flavor. It’s an extra step for sure, but I promise you’ll notice the difference. Instead of pecans, you can also use walnuts.
You may be surprised, but my carrot cake recipe doesn’t call for pineapples!! I never understood the purpose of them, other than adding more moisture. In this case, the cake is plenty moist and doesn’t require anything additional.
I’ve been making this recipe since 2013 and a few years ago, I experimented with replacing half of the granulated sugar for brown sugar. I didn’t mention anything about it to my husband. Half way through his cake, to my surprise, he says: “I don’t know why, but this is not your usual carrot cake.” I was completely blown away, because when I was taste testing it myself, I thought the same thing. A little drier, a little mellower. Something was off. I have no idea why that is, since brown sugar is supposed to add more moisture and kind of molasses flavor, right?
I haven’t messed with my recipe ever since.
How to make this cake:
It’s quite easy to make this cake! You don’t even need a mixer, but of course, you can use one too.
Start with toasting the nuts in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently. Then cool slightly and toughly chop them.
Now, whisk flour and spices in a medium bowl. And in another bowl, mix together sugar and wet ingredients until well combined.
Then add dry ingredients into the wet and stir in freshly grated carrots and toasted pecans.
Divide the batter into two 9-inch cake pans, lined with parchment paper. And bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool the cakes completely before frosting.
Here’s my in-depth tutorial for my cream cheese frosting.
Carrot cake is a perfect make-ahead cake!!! Truly, it gets better as time goes! Simply assemble the whole cake, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
You can also freeze cake layers, wrapped in a plastic wrap for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight.
How to store this cake:
Store leftovers, covered, for up to 5 days.
Hope you enjoyed my recipe today. Thank you for stopping by!
Layered Carrot Cake
For Carrot Cake:
- 1 cup (120g) chopped pecans Note 1
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg Note 2
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 3 cups (300g) finely grated carrots Note 3
For Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 8 oz (225g) cream cheese softened Note 4
- ¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter softened
- 2 cups (260g) powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (30g) chopped pecans for decorating optional
To make the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line two 9-in (23cm) round cake pans with parchment paper and coat with a cooking spray.
- In a large skillet, toast the pecans over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Nuts should be fragrant and lightly toasted.
- Cool the toasted pecans and very coarsely chop them, reserving about 1/2 cup for decorating the top, if desired.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and vanilla extract until combined, about 2 minutes.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix until mostly combined with some dry flour visible.
- Add shredded carrots and walnuts. Mix the batter with a spatula until everything is just combined.
- Divide the batter into the prepared pans. And bake for 23-25 minutes, or until the inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pan and cool completely.
To make the frosting:
- In a mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter on medium high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed for a minute. Then increase the speed to medium high and continue to beat until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in vanilla extract and salt. Whip again until incorporated, 30 seconds.
- Place one of the cakes on a serving platter and spread half of the frosting. Then place the second cake on top and spread the remaining frosting. Sprinkle some chopped walnuts, if desired.
Tips & Notes
· Plain cake layers, wrapped in plastic wrap, can be frozen for up to 3 months.
· The cake can be fully assembled up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.
· Store the leftovers in airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
This recipe was originally published on March 30th, 2015.