Carrot Cake is one of the most well known bakes and it's no wonder why. It's packed fully of tasty flavours and different textures, and wrapped up in what has to be one of my favourite frostings ever - cream cheese frosting. I could eat the stuff straight from the bowl! Carrot cake is also a delicious way to use up leftover carrots, especially after a roast dinner or around Christmas and Thanksgiving.
I thought it was about time I shared my best ever carrot cake recipe. And while I think it's the best, carrot cake can be dividing depending on how you like it so it's a very adaptable recipe too. Some people love nuts and raisins in their carrot cake, whether others don't. So you can include them or exclude them and this recipe will be delicious either way! One thing you won't want to change is the super thick and pipeable cream cheese frosting. It is hard to get thick cream cheese frosting in the UK, but this recipe is perfectly thick and pipes like a dream!
The photos and frosting recipe for this post were updated in December 2020.
How to make Carrot Cake
To make the cake, stir self raising flour, wholemeal flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, cinnamon and light brown sugar together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, eggs, orange zest and orange juice. Combine the mixtures and whisk them together.
Mix in the carrot, pecans and sultanas, and divide the mixture evenly between two cake tins. Bake for 40 minutes.
Once the cakes are cool, make the cream cheese frosting. Start by using an electric mixer to whip up the softened butter.
Then add icing sugar and mix it in. Then add cream cheese and vanilla, and mix until just combined and smooth.
What is the best way to prepare the carrots?
If you have a food processor with a grater attachment then that’s the quickest and most effortless way to prepare them. A manual grater works really well too, and it only takes a few minutes.
Can you use plain/all purpose flour instead?
Yes! If you want to use plain flour (instead of self raising flour) then you will need to add 2 additional teaspoons of baking powder to the recipe. Make sure they are level teaspoons (a measuring teaspoon, not the kind you stir your coffee with).
Tips for making Carrot Cake:
- You can swap the pecans out for the same amount of walnuts, or you can leave them out altogether if you want the cake nut free.
- I like to use sultanas as they are more juicy, but you can swap them out for raisins, or again leave them out if you prefer.
- I really like a hint of orange in a carrot cake, it compliments the cake so well. If you don't want to use the orange, replace the orange juice with the same amount of milk.
- To pipe the cream cheese frosting on, I used a Ateco 849 nozzle.
Recommended equipment & ingredients*
- 8" cake tins
- Mixing bowls
- Cooling rack
- Kitchen scales
- Electric hand mixer
- Round cake tin liners
- Piping bags
- Citrus juicer
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More Carrot Cake recipes...
For the sponge
- 200 g Self raising flour
- 115 g Wholemeal plain flour
- 265 g Light brown sugar
- 1 tsp Baking powder
- ½ tsp Bicarbonate of soda
- 3 tsp Mixed spice
- 1 ½ tsp Cinnamon
- 265 g Vegetable oil
- 4 Eggs large
- 1 Orange zested and juiced
- 325 g Carrots grated
- 95 g Pecans chopped
- 95 g Sultanas
For the frosting
- 200 g Butter softened
- 200 g Icing
- 400 g Full fat cream cheese I use Philadelphia
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- Fondant carrot decorations
- 4 Pecans chopped
- Pre-heat your oven to 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark, and grease and line two 8 inch sandwich tins (that are at least 2" deep)
- In a large bowl, stir together the self raising flour, wholemeal flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, cinnamon and light brown sugar
- In another bowl or large jug, whisk together the vegetable oil, eggs, orange zest and orange juice. Then add it to the flour mixture and whisk everything together
- Mix in the grated carrot, chopped pecans and sultanas
- Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins, use scales for accuracy
- Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown and a thin skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove them from the tin and leave them to cool on wire racks
- If the cakes have domed on top, level them off with a cake leveller or a knife
- To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat the butter on it's own until soft and creamy
- Add the icing sugar, and mix in until well combined
- Add the cream cheese and the vanilla extract, mix until just combined and smooth
- Place one of the sponges onto a plate or cake stand and spread or pipe some of the frosting over it
- Top with the second sponge, then pipe or spread the remaining frosting on top
- Decorate with fondant carrots and chopped pecans
- Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days