I’ve been on a journey to create a recipe for all the main basic cake flavours. So I felt like it was time to make carrot cake.
Carrot cake is one of the best cake flavours in my personal opinion. If I had to rank all the basic cake flavours, carrot would come 2nd, chocolate would come 1st…I think. I don’t know there’s a lot of flavours I can’t choose.
Anyway I digress, this cake is amazing. It’s very soft and also moist, I love it!
Ingredients for the carrot cake
As the name suggests, carrot cake is a cake….with carrots, but that’s not the only difference when it comes to the ingredients.
Most of the ingredients are the same as a typical cake, but there are a few I wanted to talk about!
The brown sugar
Most carrot cakes are made with brown sugar instead of regular white sugar. Brown sugar gives the cake great flavour.
For me, I think it’s best to use dark brown sugar.
Dark brown sugar gives you the most flavour. However, light brown will work and it will still taste great so you can use whatever you have or whatever is easiest to find!
Typically cakes need some kind of fat. This can either be butter or oil.
Butter adds great flavour, whereas oil adds a lot of moisture.
For carrot cake, since there’s already flavour from the spices and sugar, for me, I think butter doesn’t add much to the flavour so I just use oil for that moistness.
I use vegetable oil, any flavourless oil works though.
This is also for moistness, you could replace it with sour cream or apple sauce works too.
The lemon juice
I like to add a bit of lemon juice to this.
In cakes, lemon juice (or also vinegar) reacts with the baking soda, which gives you a slightly fluffier cake.
The difference isn’t huge so if you wanted to skip this you could, but I think it’s worth adding.
My favourite thing about carrot cake is the spices…and I feel like it’s the same for other people too but they just don’t know it. Because if you think about it, the carrots are not adding anything flavour-wise, they’re just there to add moisture to the cake.
Carrot cake is essentially a spice cake, but one that is eaten all year round, not just during autumn/fall.
Anyway, all I’m trying to say is, spice your cake well! You could use whatever spices you want, here are the ones I use:
Cardamon is not a common spice used in carrot cakes, you can leave it out if you want.
I like adding a little bit of it though, I think it goes well with the cake!
It always seems to be a huge debate on whether carrot cake should be plain or be have nuts and raisins in this.
I personally don’t see why it’s a debate, if you like it, them in. If you don’t, leave them out!
I used walnuts and some raisins in this. I love the texture that the walnuts give, pecans also work great too.
But you can absolutely leave them out if you feel like the extra texture is not needed!
Tips for making the cream cheese frosting
Carrot cake has to be paired with cream cheese frosting, it is not the same without it.
Here are just a few tips for when you make it:
If you have an electric mixer, use it
This can absolutely be made by hand, but there is a lot of beating involved.
It will be a lot easier, and you will get better results with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer. But it can be made by hand, it will just feel like a workout.
Sieve your icing sugar
I usually never sieve anything, especially flour. I think sieving is a scam created by bakers to try and waste our time.
However, when it comes to icing sugar/powdered sugar, sieving makes a huge difference. Please make sure to sieve it before using, it will give you a much smoother frosting.
Use full fat cream cheese
When it comes to cream cheese frosting, full fat cream cheese is always best to use.
With a low fat one, there is a risk of your frosting being too runny, so go with full-fat!
- For the cake:
250g dark brown sugar (light brown sugar works too)
220ml vegetable oil
80g plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
300g grated carrots
100g walnuts, chopped (optional)
50g raisins (optional)
- For the cream cheese frosting:
300g unsalted butter, softened
300g icing sugar, sieved
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
600g full fat cream cheese
- Making the cake:
- Start by pre-heating your oven to 180c/350f. Also grease and line 3 six inch cake tins.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, eggs, yoghurt, lemon juice and vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and nutmeg. Add this into the wet ingredients and whisk everything together just until you get a smooth batter.
- Now add the carrots, walnuts and raisins into this batter. Mix just until combined.
- Pour this into your cake tins and bake for around 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Once baked, leave the cake layers to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes, then take them out and leave to cool completely.
- Making the cream cheese frosting:
- In a large bowl, add the softened butter and beat this for about a minute. It's best to use an electric mixer, on high speed, to make this frosting but you can also do it by hand. Just mix aggressively.
- Add half the icing sugar to this butter, mix until incorporated, then add the rest of the icing sugar. Once this has been incorporated, add the vanilla and beat this for 5 minutes.
- Now add the cream cheese and beat until you get a smooth, thick frosting. It might be a little lumpy or thin at first, but just keep mixing.
- Leave this aside until you're ready to use it.
- Once the cake layers have completely cooled, you can ice and decorate them.
- I cut the tops of the cake layers off, just to make them flatter but you don't have too.
- Add a cake layer down onto a cake board or plate, spread some of the frosting over this. Then add another layer of cake, more frosting, and then more cake.
- Now just ice the cake and decorate however you want. I just added a swirl and sprinkled some cinnamon on top.
- Once it has been decorated, you can cut into it and enjoy!