Carrot Cake

One of my all-time favorite desserts is Carrot Cake. And though the cake itself is sweet and delicious on it’s own, it’s really just a vehicle for us to consume delightful fluffy cream cheese frosting, right? Mmmm. And with three layers of cake and frosting, it’s the gift that keeps giving…all weekend long? There’s half a cake left in my fridge right now.
Make it for Sunday night dessert, create mini cup-cakes for your child’s playgroup, dip your finger in the frosting for an afternoon sugar rush. This recipe is a crowd pleaser.

And today, Lucy and I are baking a cake together. So let’s get started!


2 – 4 carrots

1/2 cup oil

2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup lowfat milk mixed with 2 tsp vinegar)

Heat the oven to 350ΒΊ (turn it to 325ΒΊ if using a non-stick pan or a glass pan).
Grease a 13×9 pan (or 2 to 3 round pans)

NOTE: I don’t believe in nuts and raisins in Carrot Cake. I think it ruins the bite. But if you like them, throw them in the mix!

Grate 2 – 4 carrots. Measure 2 cups of loosely-packed carrots (don’t cram the carrots into the measuring cup) and set them aside.
(ask Lucy to take a picture of you in the process. Our little photographer is improving).
(not cheese):
Prep your “buttermilk”. If you ever have a recipe that calls for buttermilk, you can create an easy substitute by mixing 1 cup of milk with 2 tsp vinegar. Mix and let it sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients:

(Lucy realizes that vinegar is stinky, but still fun to stir).

In a large bowl beat the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla together until light, about two minutes.
Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the creamed mixture. Beat for another two minutes.
Stir in the carrots.
(the mixer is noisy.)
Pour into a 9×13 pan and Bake for 33 – 40 minutes or just until the center springs back when lightly touched. Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

For a layered cake:
Grease three 9-inch round cake pans. Cut three 9-inch circles of waxed paper and place in bottom of each pan. Pour evenly into the three pans. Bake at 350ΒΊ for 18 – 25 minutes or just until done. Place pans on wire racks and cool for 20 minutes.

For mini Cupcakes:
Prepare recipe above, use candy-cup wrappers for cupcake holders (found in the candy making aisle at Michaels and other craft stores), and pour appx 1 Tbls of batter into each cup. Bake 7-9 minutes.

Since my little helpers are too antsy to wait for the cake to get out of the oven, I usually bake a few mini-cupcakes first. Immediate returns. All you need is one tablespoon of batter (and a steadier hand than me, spilling everywhere while trying to take a picture)
Bake them for 7-10 minutes, cool, and snack away.
I usually leave them unfrosted and the kids don’t seem to notice.
In fact, this usually happens:
While the kids are munching, get your cake in the oven,
Start cleaning up around the kitchen,
and prepare your frosting!

(for a Layered Cake, double the recipe)
4 ounces Cream Cheese (Lite Cream Cheese or Neufchatel Cheese…at room temperature)
1/4 cup butter (at room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla
2 – 3 cups powdered sugar
Cream together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla.

Add the powdered sugar and enough milk to make a creamy, spreadable frosting.
And, you’re done!
Make sure it tastes okay.
And once your cake has cooled, we’re ready to frost.

I’ll be making a layered cake but I didn’t have 3 round pans, so I chose to bake the cake in a jelly roll pan (fancy word for a really nice cookie sheet) and cut out three circles from the finished cake. I usually place my cake in the freezer for 10 minutes or so, so that it’s nice and firm before I frost it.
I cut out a circle on paper and used it to cut three circles from the cake. This method leaves a lot of excess cake. But it’s perfect for snacking on later. And really, how much carrot cake does one small family need to consume? It’s debatable.
Find a pretty serving platter. This eggplant colored plate is from IKEA.
Place the first layer of the cake down and start spreading the frosting. Be liberal with your frosting. There’s no point in having cake if there isn’t a lot of frosting.
Put the second layer on top of that, more frosting on top, and repeat:
Then take your knife and frost all the way around the outside of the cake. There are tons of methods out there for making your cake pretty on the outside. If I’m really feeling ambitious, I frost the outside of the cake (which usually gets bits of cake stuck in the frosting. Not too pretty), then I place it in the fridge for an hour, then I frost another layer around the outside to disguise the first layer. You could also throw chopped nuts around the outside of the cake to disguise messy cake bits.
But today I’m lazy. So I’m leaving it with the crumblies inside. Adds, character, right?

Throw the left-over frosting in a piping bag,
And add some trim to the top and bottom of the cake:
Bring that creamy white beauty over to the table and listen to your family ooh and ahhh.
Serve it up,
and……eat it!

  1. 1) Lili

    Hi! i love your web page πŸ™‚ !!! i’m from veracruz a small city of Mexico. I just wanna say thanks for all the things that you made, it’s amazing! thanks for the recipe for carrot cake too!

    Regards from veracruz.


  2. 2) pauline

    Hi, I’m from veracruz, and I also love this site I have made for my baby onessies and carrot cake, many greetings from mexico

  3. Sooo amazing. I have made them a few times and they ALWAYS get rave reviews. I am partial to the mini cupcakes because I think the frosting to carrot cake ratio is higher ~ lol.

  4. wooow gotta try this -def will !! I’ve previously only trusted a family friends super duper moist -from scratch carrot cake . i will try this and see if it stands up!! LOL πŸ™‚ looks too good to not to though !!

  5. 5) Kristin

    Thank you so much for this recipie! I made this cake for Easter and added toasted coconut around the outside and small marzipan carrots on top for decoration. (I also left out the nuts and raisins as I agree w/ you that they ruin the bite.) It was delicious and my family raved about it —- thank you! I will include a link to a picture when I upload it.

  6. 6) Sharon

    Thanks for the recipe! I split the ingredients in half and it yielded a dozen cupcakes. However I’m left with tons of frosting. I guess I have to make a cake! How do you get it where your frosting isn’t too runny? Maybe I added too much milk?

  7. 7) s. arshad

    Hi P this is a easy to follow receipe like the fact you just need cups to measure dont like scales we asciann loke cup measurements like our mothers did thanks i am definitely going to try this do liek carrot cakes my favourite and healthy i usually use half brown sugar unrefined

  8. I come back to this recipe often! Great way to use up left over carrots.
    Keep it dana! (as I’m eating a bite of my carrot cake)

  9. it is a great great great great site

  10. Thanks for the fabulous recipe! I made cupcakes and mini cupcakes with my 5 year old daughter tonight, and she LOVES them. She’s already insisting on taking a big one AND some small ones to school tomorrow. πŸ˜‰

    I thought I’d let you know that I substituted unsweetened apple sauce for the oil, (that way I can have extra frosting…, right??) and it worked beautifully.

    Thanks again!

  11. OMG I’ve finally found the perfect carrot cake recipe – no nuts or raisins! I will definitely be making this…thanks for sharing!!

  12. 12) Alexandra

    I swear sometimes I read your posts just or the photos, lol.
    Yummy cake! Wish I was a good enough cook…i can’t even make toast. πŸ˜‰

  13. 13) Ilaria

    Hi Dana! My name’s is Ilaria from Italy! I’d like to tell you thank you! I don’t know how many times i tried to make the carrot cake and finally with your recipe and your tutorial i did it! It’s yummy!!!! Happy Halloween!

  14. 14) Erica Kennedy

    Dana, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your site. Your family is so delightful and your creations are always inspiring. Carrot cake is my favorite and I have NEVER met one I didn’t love. I, like one of your other readers, also love to use brown sugar, though. I really appreciate today’s mommy bloggers and the way that you keep it REAL, like the obviously well used fingernails in your picture…so unlike the Juliet Childs and Martha Stewart’s of my day. To me, they say that you have been involved in everyday life with all of its’ odds and ends. I am quite a bit older than you, in my grandma days, and do more reading than baking and sewing (arthritis) but you make me wish I could do more. Keep up the fun!

    • 15) Dana

      Aww. Thanks Erica for the cute comment!
      Yes….my nails have definitely had some interaction with day-to-day life πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I’m glad you can relate!

  15. 16) Nancy

    The carrot cake looks delicious. I was thinking that you could also just straight slice the sheet cake into 3 rectangles, less waist that way. Just a thot.


    we love carrot cake so i am going to try …fingers crossed …his cousins always says hers are the best …ahhaahh…going to try…love it …

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