This is what I grew up knowing to be carrot cake… a smooth moist spice cake that my mother always made in a baking pan with just a thin layer of frosting and chopped walnuts sprinkled over top. The first time I had carrot cake made from another recipe I was not only disappointed, I was a little disgusted. To this day I don’t care for the textured traditional carrot cake with it’s stringy pieces of grated carrot and thick greasy frosting, blah!
I have slightly modified the ingredients of this family recipe, but only out of necessity. It originally called for carrot baby food, which I found near impossible to find in the UK. So, I just used canned carrots and pureed them myself. The result was good but a little to dense. So I had to fiddle around a little more to get the results I wanted. I ended up reducing the oil a slightly and I changed how the cake batter was put together. I find this consistently produces a moist but not to dense cake.
This recipe works for both a double layer round cake with just the center and top frosted, or a slab cake with just the top decorated. Sprinkled with walnuts is how I like it, but my husband (who has this as his birthday cake every year) prefers a walnutless finish. When I make this for my husband’s bithday, I like to frost the sides as well as the top and middle (see notes).
- 2c all-purpose flour
- 1&1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1&1/4c canola oil
- 1 x 14.5 oz can of carrots, drained
- 4 eggs
- 2c white granulated sugar
- 4 TBSP butter or margarine, melted
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2c powdered (confectioners’) sugar
- 1c chopped walnuts (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350f and coat either 2 x 9″ round cake pans OR a 9×13″ baking pan with baking spray.
- Measure out the flour, soda, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- Place the oil and drained carrots in a blender (or use a beaker & emersion blender) and puree.
- Beat the eggs and sugar for 3 minutes on medium speed, either in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a deep mixing bowl with hand mixer. Scrape down the sides half way.
- Add the carrot mixture all at once, mix on low until just blended. Scrape down the sides.
- Add the flour mixture all at once, mix on low until just blended. Scrape down the sides and stir gently a few times with the spatula to make sure everything is well mixed but still light.
Depending on what size cake you are making…
9″ Round Layer cake
- Divide the mixture evenly into the prepared pans, tap gently on a hard surface to remove any large air pockets.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn out on their tops onto cooling racks and cool completely before frosting.
- Frost the cooled cakes middle and sides only, sprinkle the top with walnuts (if using). Want to frost the sides too? See notes below.
9×13 Slab Cake
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, tap gently on a hard surface to remove any large air pockets.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Place on a rack, in the pan and cool completely before frosting.
- Frost in the pan, sprinkle with walnuts (if using) and cut into squares.
- Serve straight from the pan.
- Beat the melted butter, cream cheese and vanilla until smooth.
- Stir in the powdered sugar to moisten, then beat until smooth and fluffy.
- Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (up to 3 days)
- Stir before using.
Makes One 9 Inch 2 Layer Cake OR One 9×13 Inch Slab Cake – 12 Servings
- If you want to frost the sides as well as the top and center of the 9″ round cake (as
pictured), then double the recipe for frosting.
- I also saved out one walnut half, then pulsed the rest of the walnuts in my mini-chopper before pressing them to the sides of the cake.