Easy Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – so moist, filled with spices and just plain delicious.
For years I loathed carrot cake based on the principle that vegetables don’t belong in desserts. I wouldn’t pour chocolate glaze on my salad, or frost a dinner roll with buttercream – so why would carrots think they can join in on the cake party?
It just seemed wrong on so many levels.
But I’ve moved past my naive ways and shot down my culinary stereotypes. (After all – I have no problem drinking before 5….) And now, I’m a carrot cake convert. I love the sweet carrot flavor, the warm cinnamon & nutmeg, the ridiculously moist crumb and the tang of cream cheese frosting. And this easy carrot cake with cream cheese frosting has all those things.
You see – my father loves carrot cake. So one fateful day before I came to my senses – I agreed to bake a carrot cake on his request even though I wasn’t planning to “waste the calories” eating a ginormous slice. But like any good chef – I taste tested said carrot cake. And a strange and magical thing happened. It was delicious. And for once in my online life – I will say these words, “Dad, you were right”. Carrot cake is delicious. And it deserves a place in your kitchen arsenal.
I like my carrot cake very moist & on the denser side with its texture comparable to a spice cake or gingerbread cake. Carrot cake is not the place for light & fluffy – that’s reserved for Vanilla Cupcakes. This cake is ridiculously moist due to brown sugar, 3 eggs and greek yogurt – seriously NO dry cake crumbs.
Now for the carrots. We’re going to use a combo of pureed & shredded. The pureed carrots give a rich flavor and add even more moisture to the cake, then the shredded carrots give visual appeal and ensure the batter doesn’t get too much liquid from the puree. Now – if you’re ambitious you can puree the carrots yourself by first boiling them, and then processing in the food processor until smooth. Or you can do my trick – and stop by the baby food section of your grocery store to buy pureed carrots. Because less effort > than more effort. And leaves more time for eating cake.
As a final note – this cake takes a long time to bake. About 60 minutes or maybe more depending on your oven. The trick of inserting a toothpick to check for cake crumbs to see when its done doesn’t really work here because the cake is so dense. Instead, give the pan a gentle nudge/shake – if the center wobbles or jiggles it isn’t done yet.
Of course, you can’t have carrot cake without cream cheese frosting. It’s tangy, there’s lots of it, and it’s delicious. It’s the type of frosting that you slather on as opposed to piping – which means there’s no detailed frosting or fancy tools needed. And there will very likely be a spoonful or two left for taste testing.
If you aren’t a carrot cake lover yet, make this super easy carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and be prepared to eat your words. And a second piece of cake.
- For the Cake
- 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour , spooned & leveled
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted & cooled (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 3 large eggs , room temperature
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt , room temperature, or sour cream or regular plain yogurt
- 1 and 1/2 cups carrot puree*
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 250 grams brick style cream cheese , room temperature
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter , room temperature
- 2-3 cups icing/confectioner's/powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- walnuts for decorating , optional
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line the bottom of a 10 inch spring-form pan with parchment paper, then grease the sides of the pan with butter. I do not recommend using a 9 inch spring-form, as the batter may rise up over the edges. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda & salt.
In a separate very large bowl using a stand or hand-held electric mixer beat together the melted butter, sugar, eggs & vanilla on medium speed until no lumps remain. Turn off the mixer and stir in the yogurt, pureed carrots and shredded carrots using a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Add in the flour mixture about 1/2 at a time while mixing on low. Turn off the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. The batter will be thick, and there will be a lot of it. Finally, add in the walnuts while mixing on low.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes. When the cake is done it should be pulling away at the sides of the pan and when you give the pan a gentle nudge you shouldn't see any wobble in the middle of the cake. Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully in the springform pan.
To make the icing, in a large bowl beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed using a hand held or electric mixer for about 3 minutes until well combined and no lumps remain. Slowly add in the icing sugar about 1/2 to 1 cup at a time until the desired sweetness level and consistency is achieved. Then beat in the vanilla and salt. The icing is quite thin.
Release the clamp on the springform pan. Either leave the cake on the bottom of the spring-form for serving, or gently flip the cake over to remove the metal bottom of the plan. Frost the cake using a flat-edged knife, and decorate with walnuts. There will likely be enough icing for both the top & sides of the cake.
*To make carrot puree, boil about 1.5 lbs carrots until soft. Place carrots in the food processor and process until smooth and no lumps remain