Easy recipe for a moist carrot cake loaf, topped with a sweet and tangy classic cream cheese frosting.
I remember the first time my mom asked me to try a piece of carrot cake. She had her way of making us, her children, taste something without telling us what it was made of. She knew we wouldn’t eat it if she did. Although I was skeptical about the orange color of the cake, I tried it anyway because I always loved cakes. One bite is all it took for me to fall in love with carrot cakes. The cake was melt-in-your-mouth-moist and so flavorful that I couldn’t even tell there were carrots in it.
Although carrot cakes are usually made as round cakes with multiple layers, I like mine simple, baked in a loaf and eaten alongside coffee or tea. It’s my morning energy snack. Because of the carrots, I like to believe it’s healthy.
This cake is super moist – even when eaten straight from the fridge. If you haven’t tried a carrot cake before then you should know that this cake doesn’t really taste like carrots. As with any traditional carrot cake, you can definitely taste the spices in there, yet it’s not overly spiced.
In this recipe, I used oil rather than butter. The cake is so flavorful that we don’t need to add butter for flavor. Oil makes this cake fluffy and oh-so-moist. I used an equal amount of brown sugar and white (granulated) sugar because that’s how I like it. You can use either just white sugar or brown sugar or a combination of the two. Brown sugar has a molasses taste and it makes the baked good moister than white sugar does. Yet if you just stick to the recipe, you won’t regret anything 🙂 I love my carrot cake with walnuts, but you can replace it with raisins or use both raisins and nuts (about 1 – 1 1/4 cups in total), or even shredded coconut.
This carrot cake is very easy to make! Start by whisking the eggs and sugar until fluffy and thoroughly combined for about a minute or two, then add the oil slowly in a steady stream, and then fold in the grated carrots. You can grate the carrots either by hand on a box grater or in a food processor fitted with a large or fine shredding disk. Next, fold in the dry ingredients and nuts and you’re done!
Grating the carrots is easier than you think! It really didn’t take me that long, and I used a box grater.
The cream cheese frosting is a classic, but sometimes I omit it because the cake is still delicious on its own! What makes the frosting stiff is the powdered sugar. Add as much powdered sugar as you like. I don’t like a frosting that is overly sweet so I don’t add a lot of sugar. If your frosting is still quite runny yet you don’t want to add more sugar, just pour the frosting over the cake in the pan and refrigerate it. It will firm up once chilled.
- 1 cup (140 grams or 5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, optional
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves, optional
- ½ cup (100 grams or 3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (100 grams or 3.5 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
- 2 large egg
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (135 ml) canola oil (or vegetable, safflower)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 180 grams (about 2 large or 3 medium carrots or 1 and ½ cups) grated carrots
- ½ cup (50 grams) pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
- 4 ounces (115 grams) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- ¼ cup (55 grams or ½ stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (120 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Butter a 9x5-inch loaf pan (or use a smaller pan, such as 8½ x 4¼-inch, for a higher loaf).
- In a large bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
- In a mixer bowl fitted with paddle attachment, beat together eggs, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. On low speed and with the mixer running, add the oil slowly and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla extract until combined, then turn off mixer. Fold in (by hand) carrots until combined. Fold in dry ingredients just until combined. Don’t overmix. Fold in nuts.
- Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely.
- To make the frosting: In a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract on medium speed for 1 minute until creamy and combined thoroughly. Add powdered sugar and beat until the mixture is fluffy and smooth. If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. You can add pinch of salt or lemon juice to cut the sweetness. Spread frosting over the top of the cooled cake. Decorate with walnuts or pecans if desired. Store cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Cake is best served at room temperature.