How to Make Homemade Carrot Cake

Just as grocery carts are bursting with orange in the fall with all the pumpkins, in the spring they glow orange from all the carrots- as we celebrate Carrot Cake season!!  You have to love a cake that works in some veggies right?  This Homemade Carrot Cake is an easy classic recipe…. spring isn’t complete without it!

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slice of carrot cake with gold fork

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Classic Carrot Cake

According to carrot cake history, no one really knows where carrot cake came from, It looks like it did evolve from the Carrot Pudding of medieval times, during the middle ages sugar and other sweeteners were difficult or expensive to come by in Britain and carrots were used as sugar substitutes.

While Carrot Cake as we know it today may be a far cry from its ancestors, it’s a favorite dessert this time of year and really easy to make from scratch (you’ll never grab a box mix again).  A one layer carrot cake means no messing with perfectly level layers to stack or fancy decorating.  It’s a great cake for beginners and pros alike. 

the best homemade carrot cake on cake stand

Tips and Tricks to Homemade Carrot Cake Success

Grate your carrots.  You can buy shredded carrots at the grocery store.  But to really make your carrot cake moist and delicious you’re going to want to grate them yourself.  Of course, you can grate your carrots by hand with a grater, but if you have a food processor or even a blender, it will be so much faster and easier.  I love my little Kitchenaid 3.5 cup chopper for jobs like grating carrots.  I use baby carrots, about 1/2 of a one-pound bag will yield 1½ cups grated carrots.

One bowl is all you need.  After grating your carrots, no other equipment is needed.  You can mix your carrot cake by hand (you can, of course, you an electric hand or stand mixer if you want).  Simply mix wet ingredients with a hand whisk, then fold in the flour, carrots and other mix-ins with a wooden spoon or spatula.  You want to be gentle with the batter once you’ve added the flour- don’t over mix, so mixing it by hand is best.

Use brown sugar. Brown sugar will give your carrot cake more flavor, as well as, yield a softer, more moist cake than if you use just white/granulated sugar.

Use applesauce in place of some of the oil.  It’s such an easy way to reduce the fat and cut a few calories.

Customize with your favorite mix-ins.  One of the great things about carrot cake is, it’s wonderful all on its own or with a variety of mix-ins.  Try swapping the applesauce with crushed pineapple.  Want to add raisins or coconut? walnuts instead of pecans?  or leave out the nuts?  Use any combination of raisins, coconut and nuts just keep the total amount to 1/2-3/4 of a cup. Feel free to mix in whichever your family enjoys, or you can leave them out altogether.

Carrot Cake stores well if you want to make it ahead of time.  Be sure to cool cake completely, then cover tightly in a few layers plastic wrap to seal it tightly (do not wrap the cake on a plate or platter).  Keep at room temperature.  If it’s hot, you can store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  

Freeze for up to 1 month, thaw 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.  Prepared frosting can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 3 days before using. Bring to room temperature before frosting carrot cake.

Leftover carrot cake? If for some reason you end up with leftover stale cake, make a Carrot Cake shake: Blend stale cake with ice cream to make a decadent frozen treat.

 

carrot cake on cake stand and cut piece on plate

How To Make The Best Carrot Cake

(full recipe at the end of this post)

The naturally sweet carrots, combined with brown sugar, applesauce and a surprise touch of ginger makes this carrot cake recipe a fantastic dessert for spring. The cream cheese frosting complements it perfectly and is not overly sweet.

To keep things simple, use one 8-inch or 9-inch cake pan.  If you want to make a 2-layer cake, you will need to double the recipe.

Start with a large bowl. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk sugars, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla extract until well combined.  Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt and continue whisking until incorporated.

Then, add flour to wet ingredients, and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula just until combined.  Fold in grated carrots and chopped pecans (reserve pecans are for garnish after frosting).

Next, pour the cake batter into greased cake pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then turn out on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Tips on how to make the best homemade carrot cake. An incredibly moist carrot cake recipe with an ultra-creamy cream cheese frosting. Carrot Cake Recipe at TidyMom.net

To make Cream Cheese Frosting: Use a large bowl with electric mixer and beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add vanilla, powdered sugar and cream.  

Then beat on low for 1 minute, increase speed to medium and continue beating for another minute.  Scrape sides of bowl if necessary,  increase speed to high and continue beating for another 2 minutes.

Frost the top of the cooled carrot cake, and sprinkle with chopped pecans and enjoy!!

close up of a piece of carrot cake with pecans on top

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carrot cake photo collage

I hope you and your family and friends enjoy this incredibly moist carrot cake recipe with an ultra-creamy cream cheese frosting as much as we do. Spring isn’t complete without a classic Carrot Cake on the dessert table 

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Homemade Carrot Cake

Homemade Carrot Cake

Yield: 1 8-inch or 9-inch round cake, or 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
An incredibly moist carrot cake recipe with an ultra-creamy cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 6 tablespoons applesauce, unsweetened
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups grated carrots (about 1/2 pound of baby carrots)
  • 1½ cups chopped pecans (divided)

For Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

Instructions

for Carrot Cake:

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 8-inch or 9-inch cake pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whisk sugars, oil, applesauce, eggs and vanilla until well combined. Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt and continue whisking until incorporated.
  3. Add flour to wet ingredients, and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula just until combined. Fold in carrots and 1/2 cup pecans (remaining pecans are for garnish after frosting).
  4. Pour cake batter into prepared cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then turn out on cooling rack to cool completely.

for Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Using a large bowl with electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add vanilla, powdered sugar and cream. Beat on low for 1 minute, increase speed to medium and continue beating for another minute. Scrape sides of bowl if necessary, increase speed to high and continue beating for another 2 minutes.

Assemble:

  • Place cake on stand or serving plate. Using an offset spatula frost top of cake.
  • Place remaining frosting in decorators bag fitted with a 1M tip. Pipe frosting around outer edge of top of cake. Garnish center with remaining 1 cup chopped pecans. Slice, serve and enjoy!

Notes

If you'd like to make cupcakes, bake for about 18-20 minutes. (should yield about 12 cupcakes)

If you'd like to make a layer cake, just double the recipes

According to Food Network Kitchens you should always refrigerate any cake that has cream cheese frosting. Take it out of the refrigerator an hour or two before you’d like to serve it so the frosting has time to come to room temperature and the cake layers lose their chill.

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