An ultimate carrot layer cake that is incredibly moist, perfectly spiced and topped with amazing cream cheese frosting.
Spring is a season of new beginnings, and Easter is the perfect time to celebrate this season. I barely celebrated Easter in my first 25 years since I grew up in Vietnam and started the Easter celebration right after I moved to the US. With that being said, egg hunts and gift baskets in such a festive time are new but also bring excitement of the new season to me.
Carrot cake is one of the popular Easter cakes featuring a rich texture with real carrots and a right touch of spices. It is such a spring cake and perfectly matches the Easter Spirit. Grated carrots, eggs, nuts and the flavor of spices are all combined in a moist and tender slice of cake. I love to enjoy the cake with a cup of tea while watching the beauty of flowers in spring: they are blooming at their best!
CARROT CAKE MADE FROM SCRATCH
Making carrot cake from scratch is quite simple and easy, and it starts with grating carrots. Those carrots are really what make this cake moist and wonderful. I prefer to grate fresh carrots myself using a box grater than store-bought shredded carrots as they are not grated finely enough. Plus, prepared carrots tend to be slightly dried out and less tasty than fresh carrots.
Once you wash and peel large carrots (I don’t recommend using baby carrots), use the finest holes on a box grater to shred the carrots, and do it very delicately. Alternatively, you can use a food processor attached with a shredding blade to grate the carrots more quickly.
Carrot cake also features nuts and spices. I added pecans, walnuts and some sweetened shredded coconut for better taste. A combination of warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves will lend the cake the perfect aroma and flavor blend, but if you’re really not a fan of them, then I suggest at least not skipping the cinnamon. You can say it looks like a spice cake but with added carrot flavor.
MOIST CARROT CAKE
What you’ll love most about this carrot cake is that it’s super simple and easy to make. No mixer involved, just a whisker, spatula, bowls and hand mixing.
Some recipes call for adding pineapple or applesauce to keep the cake moist, however, as I want to have that carrot flavor stand alone, I chose not to add any fruit. Instead, I use oil in the cake batter. Compared to butter that solidifies, oil contains more liquid which contributes to the sensation of moistness. I highly recommend using neutral-flavored oil like vegetable oil or canola oil, so the flavor won’t overpower the carrot flavor in the cake.
I made this carrot cake into 2 8-inch layer but this recipe also yields 3-6-inch layer cake. Make sure you divide the batter evenly and not overfill your cake pans. You should fill upto 3/4 full. For frosting, I use my go-to cream cheese frosting recipe and lightly frost the top and sides cake for the naked, rustic looking.
More Cake Recipes:
For Carrot Cake
- 2 cups (270g) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 1/2 cup (325g) grated fresh carrots* (about 6 medium carrots)
- 1 1/8 cup (270 ml) vegetable oil (or canola)
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (150g) light or dark brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (110g) pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup (35g) dry shredded coconut, optional
For Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 oz (452g/2 blocks) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (165g) sifted powdered sugar, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Make Carrot Cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Generously butter 2 8-inch cake pans, or 3 6-inch cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round sheet of parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together oil and both sugars, Once combined, whisk in eggs, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the wet mixture into the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Don’t overmix. Fold in the carrots, nuts, and coconut shreds (optional).
- Evenly distribute your batter between the cake pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes if using 2 cake pans or 25-30 minutes if using 3 cake pans, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Let the cakes cool in the pan for about 20 minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Make Cream Cheese Frosting
- While the cake cools, make cream cheese frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
- Add sugar in 2 additions, beating well after each addition until smooth. Scrape down the bowl, add vanilla extract and beat on high speed until completely smooth. If the frosting is too thin, chill the bowl in the fridge for about 10-20 minutes to thicken.
Assemble The Cake
- To assemble, use a cake leveler or a long-serrated knife to level the tops of your cakes if needed.
- Place the first layer of cake onto a cake stand, then spread an even layer (about 1/2 inch thick) of cream cheese frosting. Spread to edges, smoothing evenly. Repeat with the second layer. Add remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake, then use a cake scraper to smooth frosting out around edges, making a rustic look.
- With any remaining frosting, you can apply a thick layer of frosting around the chilled cake with crumb coat and then spread it even. Or you can pipe swirls on top of the cake and decorate with carrots and chopped pecans.
- Store cake in the fridge for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.