Classic carrot cake is one of those all time amazing desserts that tastes so good and makes a great statement piece when you serve it. Everyone should have a delicious and moist carrot cake recipe like this so you can make it when the urge strikes.
If you grew up eating carrot cake, you know how amazing it tastes and we can all agree the cream cheese frosting makes it. If you did not grow up eating carrot cake (or know someone who hasn't) then it may sound weird the whole idea of carrots and cake.
This carrot cake recipe does not have crushed pineapples like many do and I personally prefer it this way. This carrot cake is moist and doesn't need the pineapples to help with that.
If you are skeptical about eating carrot cake, I promise you, you are not actually tasting the carrots. This is like a sugar cake of heavenly goodness and those carrots just blend right into the batter.
I have lied about what this cake is called to people I served it to (on a few occasions), all in the name of trying to get newbies to eat this cake. They have all been pleasantly surprised and loved it!
Now when making a classic carrot cake recipe, walnuts (or pecans) are usually found in the cake. I have some members of my family who don't like nuts in their cake so I leave them out. I like to decorate the outside of my cake with them making it easier for those who dislike nuts, to pick them off. For us who like the nuts then we just leave them on top and take a little bit with each bite 🙂
Here are the ingredients you will need to make this delicious classic carrot cake:
- whole carrots (not pre shredded)
- all purpose flour
- walnuts (optional)
- baking soda
- baking powder
How to prepare your carrots for carrot cake (the right way!)
The great part about this cake is it is all made in one bowl. There is no special creaming or sifting that you need to do. The one important step that you need to make sure you follow is to grate your own carrots and not buy pre-shredded carrots.
The carrots that you shred will be moist and you will want to shred them right before you are ready to add them to the batter. This step will ensure you have a delicious and moist cake.
I also like to shred my carrots with a box grater and I use the fine shred side. I find that the coarse shred side is just too coarse and it leaves large shreds in the batter.
You want the carrots to blend into the batter during baking.
Now I think most people will agree that the best part about carrot cake is the frosting. Carrot cake has a classic cream cheese frosting and it is so easy to make.
Here are the ingredients you will need for the cream cheese frosting:
- Room temperature cream cheese
- Room temperature unsalted butter
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
Carrot cake and cream cheese frosting is a match made in heaven and you just cannot have one without the other. The frosting is a cinch to make and so good.
Here are the steps to making this really easy carrot cake:
- Prepare 3 - 8 inch cake pans (or 2- 9 inch cake pans) by oiling and adding flour and parchment paper to the bottom of your pans. The better your cake pans are prepared the easier it will be to remove the cake from the pans after baking.
- Now add all of your dry ingredients into a large bowl.
- Next you will add your wet ingredients and mix it all together.
- Then you will shred your carrots on the fine side of a grater (Like below) and add that right into your batter.
- Add your freshly shredded carrots to your batter.
- Then go ahead and pour the batter into your prepared cake pans making sure there is an even amount in all of them.
Very easy! I promise anyone can make this cake and it will come out amazing.
Making this carrot cake ahead of time:
I like to simply things for myself and make the cake portion a day ahead of time.
This way I am not making a cake and frosting it all in one day. To do this, I let the cake completely cool and then stack the layers between sheets of parchment paper.
I will just store the cakes on a cake stand on my kitchen counter. You can also store it in the fridge if you prefer.
Decorating your carrot cake:
Now let's talk decorating! I am always the first one to tell you that I am no wizard when it comes to cake decorating. You will see with all my cakes from my Basil Olive Oil Cake to my Italian Berry Cake that I have lots of work arounds to compensate for my lack of decorating skills.
This cake is no exception. I used the naked cake frosting method for this one where you add the frosting all around the sides and then scrape most of it away, leaving an almost naked cake.
I then use the walnuts (which I have toasted) to add a little interest to the top.
If you are great at decorating, the sky is the limit with what you can add to this. Cute frosting carrots, piping work, etc. Do not let my limits, limit you 🙂
As you can see it all works out even with limited decorating on the cake. The beautiful part of this cake is when you slice through it and see those beautiful layers!
Look at the closeup (below) of one of the slices of carrot cake! This is why I do like using three 8 inch cake pans instead of 2 - 9 inch pans. I also like that there is more cream cheese frosting with 3 layers!
Definitely give this easy classic carrot cake a try and see why this classic cake is so loved. Make it at Easter, for a birthday, when you need to use up excess carrots or just because.
Tips for this recipe:
Converting this carrot cake recipe to carrot cake cupcakes-
You can easily make this carrot cake into carrot cake cupcakes. First you will need to half the recipe (this will yield 12 cupcakes). You will follow the recipe the same way and instead of pouring the batter into 3 cake pans, just add the batter to a prepared cupcake tin.
For the baking time, bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out smooth.
Storing your carrot cake-
Now no one loves cream cheese frosting that has been sitting in the fridge because it hardens back up and is not soft like we like it. When storing your carrot cake, you can keep it out for most of the day (the first day) but after that it does need to go in the fridge since it is made with dairy.
You can still have that soft and lofty carrot cake experience if you cut yourself a slice and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes or so.
Easy Classic Carrot Cake
- 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 cups freshly grated carrots making sure to use the fine side of a box grater
- 4 large eggs
- 1 ⅓ cup vegetable oil that is one cup plus ⅓
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 ounces two packages softened cream cheese room temperature
- ½ cup one stick of softened, unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup toasted walnut halves
- Preheat oven to to 350 degrees
- Add all your dry ingredients to a large bowl (your flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon) and mix well
- Now add your vegetable oil and vanilla to your dry ingredients and mix it all in.
- Next beat in your eggs one at a time into the mixture.
- Grate your carrots and then add those into your batter. I like to grate a bunch of carrots (usually about 4 large ones) and then scoop that into a measuring cup to measure out the 3 cups. You do not press the shredded carrots into the measuring cup when measuring.
- Now add your 3 cups freshly grated carrots to the batter and gently mix it in until incorporated.
- Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 8" round cake pans - try to make each pan have the same amount of batter.
- Bake for approximately 30- 35 minutes until a wooden toothpick comes out clean when stuck in the middle of the cakes. If you are using 9 inch cake pans then add a few more minutes. It will be ready when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Take pans out of oven and let sit in pans on cooling racks to cool for approx. 5 minutes.
- Then turn out cakes carefully & let cool completely on the racks.
- Once cooled you can frost your cakes right way or store them with parchment paper in between the layers if you are making the cake a day ahead of time.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a medium bowl add your softened cream cheese, room temperature butter, powdered sugar and vanilla
- Mix on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes until it is all light a fluffy
Frosting the cake
- Take ¼ of the frosting and place on one layer of the cake. Spread evenly over the cake with an offset spatula or knife.
- Place the second layer of your carrot cake evenly on top of the frosting.
- Repeat the step above with ¼ of the frosting and spreading it evenly over the cake.
- Now add your third layer of cake on top.
- Add the remaining frosting to the top of the cake.
- Gently spread the frosting over the top of cake working from the middle out to the edges.
- Gently push the extra frosting from the top of the cake over on to the sides.
- Frost the sides of the cake until all the sides are covered in frosting, being careful not to drag the cake itself into the frosting.
- Once the sides are all frosted, gently scrape away a little of the frosting from sides until you can start to see the carrot cake.
- Touch up any imperfect frosting areas on your cake.
- Now add your toasted walnuts to the center of your cake.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.