|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 31g||39%|
|Saturated Fat 11g||54%|
|Total Carbohydrate 75g||27%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||5%|
|Total Sugars 57g|
|Vitamin C 4mg||18%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
If someone made a list of the best cake/frosting combinations of all time, this amazing 3 layer carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting has to be at the top. It's a classic carrot cake—super moist, full of colorful grated carrots, spiced to perfection, and topped with a luscious, tangy cream cheese frosting.
The classic carrot cake recipe is versatile. You can make the impressive 3-layer cake, or you can bake it in two layers. For an even easier version, bake the carrot cake in a 9 x 13-inch pan. See the tips below for the various baking times.
Make the carrot cake with or without the chopped pecans, or you might swap them out with some toasted coconut or chopped walnuts. Feel free to add some raisins or chopped dried fruits, but keep add-ins to about 1 to 1 1/2 cups total.
“Delicious! Do I have to say more? The cake is flavorful and moist. The icing, creamy and not too sweet. Do yourself a favor and make this cake and definitely add nuts like pecans or walnuts.” —Carrie Parente
For the cake:
1 cup vegetable oil, more for the pans
2 1/2 cups (320 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup (213 grams) brown sugar
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups finely grated carrots, from about 4 to 6 medium carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, optional
For the frosting:
Prepare the Cake
Gather the ingredients.
Position two rack in the upper and lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Generously grease and line 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Whisk to combine the dry ingredients. Set aside.
In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, vegetable oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until well combined. (Alternatively you can use an electric hand mixer.)
Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet, beating until just combined.
Fold the carrots into the batter with the chopped pecans, if using, using a rubber spatula.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared baking pans.
Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 22 to 26 minutes.
Let the cakes cool in the pans.
Prepare the Frosting and Assemble the Cake
Gather the ingredients for the frosting.
In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, and salt until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.
Sift the confectioners' sugar into the bowl with the cream cheese mixture and beat on low speed until blended, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Add the vanilla extract, then increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 more minutes.
To assemble the cake, carefully remove the cooled cakes from the pans. Peel off and discard the parchment. If desired, use a serrated knife to level the layers, using any scraps as snacks or to make cake pops.
Place the first layer on a turntable or cake plate, then cover the top with about 2/3 to 3/4 cup of frosting, spreading into a smooth, even layer.
Top with a second layer of cake, then cover with another 2/3 to 3/4 cup of frosting, spreading into an even layer. Top with the third layer of cake, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Swirl the frosting or smooth it as desired.
Sprinkle chopped toasted pecans over top of the cake, if desired, and serve.
- To shred the carrots, peel them first and use the small holes on a box grater or food processor shredding disk.
- With parchment paper-lined pans, the cake should come out easily. If necessary, slide a knife or spatula around the edge of the cake.
- The cake may be made a day in advance. Leave the layers in the pans and refrigerate them until you are ready to assemble and frost the cake.
- To smooth the frosted sides of the cake, place it on a turntable or lazy Susan. Hold a bench scraper lightly against the side of the cake as you turn it.
- For a one-layer rectangular cake, spread the batter in a greased and floured 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Bake the cake in a 350 F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. For the frosting, cut the cream cheese and butter in half, with 2 1/2 cups of confectioners' sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla.
- For two layers, bake the cake in two 9-inch round cake pans (greased and lined with parchment paper) in the 350 F oven for about 30 to 34 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Garnish the cake with toasted coconut instead of pecans.
How to Store and Freeze
- Store leftover frosted carrot cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
- To freeze, transfer slices of carrot cake to an airtight container, separating slices with sheets of wax paper. Freeze for up to 1 month.
Can You Use Bagged Pre-Shredded Carrots to Make Carrot Cake?
Bagged shredded carrots tend to be dry and chunky, so they are best avoided. If that's all you have, put them in a food processor fitted with the blade and pulse them a few times, or just until they look more finely grated. Ideally, use the small holes on a box grater or food processor shredding disk to shred the carrots.