Who doesn’t love a moist carrot cake with cream cheese frosting? Our recipe features one ingredient that creates a soft, moist carrot cake every time.
Carrot cake is easily my favorite dessert. However, nothing is worse than biting into a dry piece of cake.
So, Kim set out to create an easy carrot cake recipe that stays moist, even after being stored in the fridge.
Similar to our best chocolate cake recipe, there are a couple of ingredients you can use; including sour cream, that will help create a moist cake.
But, Kim was concerned sour cream wouldn’t be enough to cut it. Also, a lot of recipes call for that ingredient and we wanted to try something different.
Well, using freshly shredded carrots and unsweetened or lightly sweetened applesauce, seems to keep the cake from drying out.
Now, I’m not going to argue about all the chemistry of homemade cakes. For us, using those two (2) ingredients did the trick.
Special Equipment for this Recipe:
Okay, for this recipe, you will need a few special items. You either need two (2) cake pans or one (1) rectangular casserole dish to make a sheet cake.
Obviously, a hand mixer or stand mixer will make mixing the batter a breeze.
For the best results, you want apply the frosting with a frosting spatula. Frosting creates a seal that will lock in moisture and keep the carrot cake soft for days.
How to make a carrot cake from scratch?
Baking a homemade carrot cake is a lot easier than might you think. The only catch is knowing the right ingredients and ingredient amounts.
Fortunately, we’ve already done the hard part. Kim even balanced the carrot cake icing to have just the right amount of sweetness.
To get started, preheat your oven to 350° F., grease two (2) nine (9) inch cake pans with a little butter.
Go ahead and pull the butter and cream cheese out of your fridge to soften. Also, shred the carrots.
Next, grab a large mixing bowl and a whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
Once the dry ingredients have been mixed, set the bowl aside. Grab another large mixing for the wet ingredients.
Now, in the second bowl, combine the oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla. I recommend using a hand mixer on low speed.
After that, add the shredded carrots to the other wet ingredients. You can use a whisk for that part.
Using the hand mixer is fine, but be mindful of the carrot pieces. A hand mixer, even on low speed, could create a mess.
At this point, it’s time to combine the wet and dry ingredients. Slowly, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Gently, using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the batter until everything is combined.
Afterward, grab your cake pans and evenly divide the batter between the two (2) pans.
Personally, I would use a small measuring cup for this step. It’s easier to monitor how much you’re adding to each pan.
If you’re make a sheet cake, like our homemade pumpkin cake, then you don’t have to divide the batter.
Last, place the cakes into your oven, on the center rack, and let them bake for thirty (30) to thirty-five (35) minutes or until the centers have set.
Once done, remove them from the oven and place the carrot cake pans on a cooling rack for at least twenty (20) minutes before removing from the pans.
When the cakes have come to room temperature, you can safely frost them. Speaking of carrot cake icing, we can make that while they cool.
How to make carrot cake icing?
First, grab a new mixing bowl and add the softened cream cheese. If you pulled it out before you started the cakes, it should be okay to use.
Next, use a hand mixer with paddle attachments to whip the cream cheese for about two (2) minutes.
Basically, you want to whip out any potential lumps. When the cream cheese is smooth, add in the softened butter.
After that, continue mixing the homemade carrot cake frosting until the butter and cream cheese are well combined.
Then, add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Continue whipping the mixture to form a smooth and creamy icing.
Last, when this easy cream cheese frosting is done, you can start placing it on the carrot cake.
Frosting a cake is super simple. Especially, if you have a cake stand. But, if you don’t have one, then a large round serving platter will suffice.
How do you ice a cake?
To begin, place one of the carrot cakes on to the cake stand or plate. Top it with about 2/3 a cup of the homemade frosting.
Use a frosting spatula (or rubber spatula) to smooth out the icing. Make sure it reaches the edge of the cake. Gently place the second cake on top of the first one.
Apply the rest of the frosting to the sides and top of the carrot cake. If you want, you can place chopped pecans or walnuts on the cake as well.
Not only does it create a beautiful homemade carrot cake, it also adds a nice crunch to the dessert. However, it’s completely optional and not included in the ingredients.
That’s it, your homemade moist carrot cake recipe is done! Kim and I hope you enjoy the dessert and wish you all the best 🙂
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- 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour, (240 g)
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 3/4 Cup Vegetable or Canola Oil, (175 mL)
- 1 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, (266 g)
- 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar, (149 g)
- 1/2 Cup Applesauce, unsweetened or lightly sweetened, (127 g)
- 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 4 Large Eggs
- 3 Cups Carrots, about 3 large carrots shredded, (297 g)
Carrot Cake Icing (Cream Cheese Frosting)
- 8 Ounces Cream Cheese, softened, (227 g)
- 2 Cups Powdered Sugar, (227 g)
- 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, softened, (113 g)
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
To make the cakes
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, combine the oil, brown and granulated sugars, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla. Then add the carrots.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a spatula or wooden spoon to combine. Make sure not to over mix. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cakes are finished when the center is set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Allow the pans to sit on a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes before removing the cakes from the pans. Transfer the cakes back to the racks to cool completely before frosting.
To make the icing
- Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese until smooth and no lumps remain, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the butter and beat for an additional 30 seconds. Then add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Place one cake on a cake stand and top with about ⅔ cup of the frosting. Use a spatula to smooth out the frosting to the edge of the cake. Carefully place the next cake directly on top of the first. Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake. Apply chopped pecans or walnuts to the sides if desired.
- Store leftover cake in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients and a serving size of one (1) slice of cake when the entire carrot cake has been cut into twelve (12) equal-sized pieces. Additionally, the calorie count does NOT include the chopped pecans seen in the photos (used as a garnish). Actual calories will vary.
**If needed the frosting recipe can be doubled for a thicker layer of frosting.**
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 Slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 561Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 20gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 347mgCarbohydrates: 77gFiber: 2gSugar: 58gProtein: 4g