A juicy carrot cake with a delicious cream cheese frosting. Perfectly flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and filled with pecan nuts, carrots and applesauce. The spices are not overwhelming, but add a perfect balance to the cake. Besides, it is not too sweet. This carrot cake tastes even better the next day after the flavors have settled and it is more moist on the 2nd day.
Tools & Equipment
- Springform pan 20cm / 8-inch
- Box grater
- Cutting board
- Medium bowl
- Offset spatula
- Parchment paper
- Sharp knife
- Silicone spatula
- Small bowl
- Stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment
- Wire rack
Make ahead: allow the baked cake to cool, then cover tightly and keep at room temperature overnight. You can also prepare the frosting. Cover and put it in the fridge overnight. If you want to use it, let it stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes. To loosen it up, place it in the mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute.
Carrots: do not use packed, pre-cut carrots as they are dry and hard, go with fresh carrots. Freshly grated carrots are moist and tasty. For this cake you need about 3-4 medium sized carrots.
Add Extras: I used pecans in the batter and for decorating. However, you can also use walnuts. If you want, you can add raisins or coconut, but then you should reduce the amount of nuts or leave them out completely. Alternatively, if you like it simple, you can make the cake without adding any extras.
Applesauce: if you don’t like apples, you can use pineapples, bananas, sour cream, plain yoghurt or pumpkin puree instead. All these ingredients work well with carrot cake.
Cream Cheese Frosting: take the butter and the cream cheese out of the fridge at least 1 hour before you start, to bring them to room temperature. To avoid lumps, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl several times. This will make the frosting smooth and creamy.
How to Make Carrot Cake
Preheat the oven to 177°C / 350°F. Line a 20cm / 8-inch springform pan with parchment, grease and set aside. Gather the ingredients.
Make the Cake
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the oil and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the applesauce, vanilla and the grated carrots and mix everything well by using a silicone spatula.
Then add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined, do not overmix. Finally fold in the pecans.
Fill the batter into the springform and bake for about 30-35 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the carrot cake to a wire rack and let it cool completely.
Make the Frosting
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, for about 3 minutes.
Add 150g of the powdered sugar and beat on medium speed until thick and well combined.
Add heavy cream and vanilla and beat on medium speed, for about 2 minutes. If your frosting doesn’t have the desired thickness, add more powdered sugar and mix again, for about 1 minute.
Distribute the frosting on top and the sides of the cake, smooth with an offset spatula and decorate with some chopped pecans. Let the cake set in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Storage: cover leftovers tightly and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Freezing: you can freeze the frosted cake or the unfrosted cake layer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and allow to come to room temperature before decorating and serving.
My Summary for Carrot Cake
Taste: nutty, not too sweet. You can taste cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, but it is not too overwhelming. Perfectly balanced.
Texture: this cake is dense, rich and tastes very soft. By adding the nuts, it also has a nice crunchiness.
PROS: the carrot cake is full of flavor. It tastes even better on the next day. This means you can prepare the cake well in advance.
For the Cake
- 175g flour (550)
- 2g baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 50g canola oil
- 155g light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 125g applesauce
- 2g pure vanilla extract
- 160g carrots, finely shredded
- 75g pecans, finely chopped + more for garnishing
For the Frosting
- 145g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 76g butter, at room temperature
- 200g powdered sugar
- 3g vanilla extract
- 20ml heavy cream
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
For the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 177°C / 350°F. Line a 20cm / 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper, grease it and set aside.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a small bowl.
- In a large bowl, mix the oil and brown sugar.
- Whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
- Stir in the applesauce, vanilla and carrots.
- Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Fold in the pecans.
- Spread the batter evenly in the springform pan. Bake on the lower middle rack for about 30-35 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the Frosting
- Beat the cream cheese and butter in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, for about 3 minutes.
- Start by adding 150g of the powdered sugar and beat on medium speed until thick and well mixed.
- Add the heavy cream and vanilla and beat on medium speed, for about 2 minutes.
- In case your frosting doesn't have the right thickness yet, add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix again, for about 1 minute.
- Spread the frosting on top and sides of the cake. Smooth with an offset spatula and garnish with the chopped pecans.
- Let the cake set in the fridge for about 30 minutes, before slicing.
Recipe adapted from handletheheat, Tessa Arias.