Moist Carrot Cake with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting
This easy, from-scratch carrot cake recipe combines deceptively simple ingredients and techniques to make a stand-out AMAZING moist and tender, perfectly spiced homemade carrot cake. Fluffy, satiny cream cheese frosting recipe included. It’s been said this may even be the best carrot cake recipe in the world.
This carrot cake is perfectly moist without being too rich. Every forkful is fluffy and tender, warmly spiced and crowned with airy cream cheese frosting.
Today, my friends, I give you my go-to, foolproof, always deliciously soft and flavourful homemade carrot cake recipe.
You won’t be disappointed.
How to Make This Easy, Moist Carrot Cake
It’s simple. You need two bowls. One for wet ingredients and one for dry ingredients, then you mix the wet into the dry and boom, you’re done. No stand mixer, no creaming butter, no alternating wet with dry ingredients like many cakes call for. Here’s my easy way to make an amazing carrot cake:
- Preheat your oven. You want to get the oven not just up to temperature but also maximize the time for the racks and oven walls to heat up so that you lose fewer degrees when you open the oven door to pop in your cake pans.
- Prepare your cake pans. It is important to both grease the cake pans (brush on oil or use a nonstick spray) and then also line the bottoms with parchment paper for foolproof cake release every time. This is a moist cake, so taking the extra precautions ensures smooth sailing (read: no sticking).
- Peel your carrots. Why do you need to peel the carrots for carrot cake? The skin not only can impart a dirty flavour (even when washed), it can also react with the baking soda and turn green. You don’t want flecks of green throughout your carrot cake, do you?
- Whisk together wet ingredients. Start with the eggs in a large bowl, give them a good whisking, then whisk in the oil, grated carrot, and buttermilk.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients. I highly recommend popping the second bowl on top of a kitchen scale and weighing your flour for perfect results every time, but if you don’t have one, fluff the flour in the bag with a fork, gently spoon it into a measuring cup, and level it off with a knife. Too much flour can make a moist cake unpleasantly dense instead of light and fluffy. Whisk in the sugar, spices, salt, and leaveners.
- Scrape the wet ingredients into the dry. Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to fold the carrot mixture into the flour mixture until just blended. Stop as soon as no dry flour remains. Vigorous beating or overmixing will toughen a cake once the wet and dry ingredients are combined.
- Divide the batter between cake pans. Use a spatula to scrape the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.
- Bake until bouncy. You can tell this cake is done when you gently press the centre and it feels a bit bouncy, rather than your finger sinking in.
- Cool and then frost. Let the cake layers cool in the baking pans for 10 minutes to firm up slightly, then run a butter knife around the outside of the cake. Place a cooling rack on top of the cake pan, then (wearing oven mitts) flip the whole thing over in one motion (cake and cooling rack together).
Carrot Cake Ingredients
- Peeled, grated carrot. We peel for best flavour and colour in the finished cake. You could go the easy route and whiz some baby-cut carrots through the grater attachment of your food processor if you like.
- Vegetable oil. I use canola, but you could use grapeseed, sunflower, safflower, or any other mild-flavoured oil). We use oil and not butter for a maximum-moist finished cake. As oil is liquid at room temperature, and butter is solid, an oil-based cake will have a softer mouthfeel.
- Eggs. Large, please.
- Buttermilk. Buttermilk in this recipe adds a bit more acid to react with the baking soda to maximize the cake’s rise, and also offers some buttery flavour (since we use oil, not butter). It also makes the cake extra moist. No buttermilk on hand? Don’t let that stop you from making this particular carrot cake recipe. It’s used in small enough quantity that any one of these easy tried-and-true buttermilk substitutions would be just fine.
- Flour. Basic all-purpose is all you need.
- Baking powder and soda. Double-whammy of leavening agents to maximize rise in a moist cake.
- Spices and salt. I use cinnamon, ginger and a whiff of cloves for a richly-spiced cake, but feel free to omit the latter two and stick to just cinnamon.
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting
- Soften butter and cream cheese. You can do it by leaving both on the counter for 30 minutes (depending on the climate) or by microwaving at 50% power in 30-second intervals. It should be soft enough to leave a thumbprint but should not be oily-looking or melty.
- Beat the butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer. I like to use the whisk attachment to really whip in as much air as possible for a gorgeously fluffy, silky texture that is light as air.
- Beat in confectioners’ sugar. (Also known as powdered or icing sugar). Pause the stand mixer, add one cup of the sugar, beat it in completely, pause again and add another cup, and repeat. Then turn the mixer speed on high and beat 1-2 minutes until fluffy and silky and basically just a couple of notches firmer than whipped cream.
- Beat in vanilla extract.
Frost the cake by spooning about half of the frosting in the centre of the bottom layer. Use a knife or offset spatula to smooth it out to the edges. Position the second cake layer on top, and repeat the frosting step.
If you want to frost the sides as well as the top and middle, use 1/3 of the frosting on the bottom, 1/3 on top, then dollop the remaining 1/3 in a few spots around the outside and smooth it out with a knife.
Store cake, covered, to 24 hours at room temperature, or in the fridge up to 4 days. The cake is easier to slice while cold, but I prefer to let it come to room temperature to serve for softest texture.
More Foodess Cake Recipes
For Carrot Cake
- 4 large eggs
- 10 oz grated carrot (2 cups packed)
- 1 cup canola oil or other neutral-tasting vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 9 oz all-purpose flour (or 2 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
For Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz full-fat cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened (4 oz or 1 stick)
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
To make carrot cake:
- Preheat oven to 350ºGrease two 9" cake pans (brush on oil or use a nonstick spraand then also line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until pale and blended, then whisk in the carrot, oil and buttermilk.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.
- Scrape the carrot mixture into the dry ingredients.
- Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to fold the carrot mixture into the flour mixture until just blended. Stop as soon as no dry flour remains.
- Use a spatula to scrape the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.
- Bake for about 35 minutes, or until you gently press the centre and it feels a bit bouncy, rather than your finger sinking in.
- Let the cake layers cool in the baking pans for 10 minutes to firm up slightly. Working with one pan at a time, run a butter knife around the outside of the cake. Place a cooling rack on top the cake pan, then (wearing oven mittflip the whole thing over in one motion (cake and cooling rack together). Repeat with second cake and let cool completely before frosting.
To make cream cheese frosting:
- Beat the softened butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer on medium speed using the whisk attachment, if you have one.
- Pause the stand mixer, add one cup of the sugar, beat it in completely on medium-low speed, pause again and add another cup, and repeat. Once no dry confectioners' sugar remains, turn the mixer speed on high and beat 2 minutes until fluffy and silky. Beat in vanilla extract.
- Frost the cake by spooning about half of the frosting in the centre of the bottom layer. Use a knife or offset spatula to smooth it out to the edges. Position the second cake layer on top, and repeat the frosting step.
- If you want to frost the sides as well as the top and middle, use 1/3 of the frosting on the bottom, 1/3 on top, then dollop the remaining 1/3 in a few spots around the outside and smooth it out with a knife.