This carrot cake is the perfect balance of spiced and sweet. Adding the subtle tang of cream cheese frosting helps tie the flavors all together. Carrot cake is a delicious all year around treat, but especially hits the spot in the crisp months of Autumn.

Why do most carrot cake recipes call for oil instead of butter?

Carrot cake is commonly oil based, but in my recipe I swap out the oil for some melted butter & greek yogurt. This is a great way to take canola oil out of your baked recipes. Melted butter will help add the oil component to the batter and greek yogurt will help add the moisture.

A full carrot cake on a platter

Can you leave cream cheese frosting out overnight?

The powdered sugar in frosting will absorb the moister from the dairy and preserve the frosting. As long as the frosting recipe has enough powdered sugar in it, the frosted cake is okay to sit out for at least 8 hours.

The U.S. FDA suggests only allowing cream cheese treats to sit out for 2 hours before being refrigerated. From personal experience, we frequently leave cream cheese frosting out for 2 days and have never had a problem. But, our house is always set to a cool 67 degrees. If you want to be safe, put all cream cheese frosted treats in the fridge.

How long should carrot cake cool before frosting?

It is best to cool all cake before frosting. For the best looking cake, I like to wrap my cooled cakes in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes or overnight. After the cake is chilled I frost the cake in a thin, crumb coat, layer. When the crumb coat is done, I place it back in the freezer for 15 minutes to freeze all the crumbs in place. Then, I frost a more generous clean coat of frosting on top.

Carrot cake on a platter with a slice being cut out

How to you tell your cake is done baking?

There are a few visuals that will let you know your cake is done. First, if you tap your cake pan and the center giggles at all, it is not done. Second, if your cake still looks shiny on top, it is not done. The cake will look a little dull when its finished. Last, if you stick a fork or toothpick in the center of the cake and a few moist crumbs come out, it is done. If the fork comes out and its gooey, then I would bake for another 5 minutes and check again.

What is a carrot cake made of?

Granulated sugar

Adds sweetness, provides a caramelized flavor and crisp texture. Sugar assists with rising when creamed with butter & sugar. It helps add moisture to your cookie and helps it evenly spread as it melts into a liquid in the heat of the oven. Sugar also helps with naturally preserving your baked treat.

Brown sugar

Brown sugar is granulated sugar with a little molasses mixed in. Molasses is a more bitter natural sweetener which actually makes the sugar a bit sweeter than plain granulated sugar. Brown sugar draws more moister into your treat and is more acidic, that means it will help make baking soda react.

Melted butter

Melted butter is a good substitution for canola oil. Remember to never melt your butter unless the recipe specifically tells you to. When butter is melted the fats separates and the emulsification breaks apart. Once this is done, the butter cannot go back together in the original state unless its churned again. Have you ever notices that melted butter that has cooled and solidified never looks the same as butter that hasn’t been melted?

Greek yogurt

Adds moister and a tangy flavor to your baked good.

Eggs

Adds both protein (egg whites) and fat (egg yolks). The egg whites help with rising because when foamed, little air pockets get trapped inside the mixture. The water content in egg whites encourages steam while baking which helps with gluten formation, resulting in nice and thick cake. Egg yolks have emulsifying properties that bring batters together and help your cake from collapsing.

Vanilla extract

When using pure vanilla extract, it will add the deep rich flavor everybody wants in a treat.

All-purpose flour

Flour builds structure as it absorbs liquids and expands. All-purpose flour falls in the middle of bread flour (high in gluten) and cake flour (low in gluten). It is exactly what it is named, all-purpose, the most universal flour that can be used in most baked goods. 

Baking soda

Elevates the pH level of your batter. It increases the spread in cookies and gives the crispy outside, soft inside texture everyone loves. Baking soda needs both an acid and a liquid to react. Things that will make baking soda react are: vinegar, fruit juice, molasses, brown sugar, tartar, buttermilk, sour cream. Baking soda only reacts once, right when it’s mixed into your batter it will create little air bubbles all throughout your treat. When the air bubbles get heated up in the oven, they expand.

Baking powder

Puff up your batter instead of spreading it out. Baking powder contains a little bit of baking soda, an acid & cornstarch. Because of this it only needs a liquid to react and it is double reacting. It reacts as soon as it’s mixed with moisture and then again when it is heated up.

Fine sea salt

Enhances flavor, adds balance, masks any bitter flavors. Salt is the most powerful and oldest preservative. Always make sure to use fine sea salt so that it melts down at the right speed in the heat of the oven. If you use larger granule salt it will not melt down fully when baked and will leave salt crystals throughout your cake making it crunch like you dropped it into sand.

Cinnamon

Adds a little spice to your baked treat.

Nutmeg

Adds a rich, nutty flavor to your baked treat.

Grated carrots

Freshly grated carrots makes all the difference in your carrot cake. If you buy grated carrots, a lot of the moisture has already evaporated. For this same reason, it’s best to grate your carrots right before mixing them into your batter so that all the moisture is incorporated into your cake.

Carrot cake on a platter sliced with a slice sitting on a plate

Recommended Equipment

Recipes You May Love

Carrot Cake

5 from 4 votes
Author: Madison Reid
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 18 slices
Perfectly spiced carrot cake paired with a subtle cream cheese frosting. This cake screams Autumn, but is just as amazing year round.

Ingredients 

Cake

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 1/2 cups grated carrots

Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Cake

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • In a standing mixer combine sugars and butter. Mix until fully combined.
  • Add in yogurt, eggs & vanilla
  • In a separate bowl combined all dry ingredients (flour, soda, powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg)
  • Turn the mixer on low and slowly pour in half of the dry ingredients
  • Alternate and pour in half of the grated carrots
  • Repeat adding the rest of the dry ingredients & then the rest of the carrots. Mix until fully combined
  • Spray and line cake pans with non stick spray and parchment paper. Pour half the batter into a 8 or 9" round pan and the other half into a second 8 or 9" round pan
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until no longer giggly in the middle of the cake

Frosting

  • In a standing mixer combine butter and cream cheese, whip until softened
  • Add in powdered sugar and vanilla, whip on medium high speed for 2 minutes until lighter in color and texture

Assemble

  • After cake is fully cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and allow to get chilled in the freezer for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove from freezer and frost with a thin layer of frosting, filling between each layer of cake with a more healthy portion of frosting.
  • Place the cake back into the freezer to freeze any crumbs into that first thin layer of frosting
  • Take the cake out of the freezer and use the rest of the frosting the cover the cake

Nutrition

Calories: 477kcal Carbohydrates: 79g Protein: 5g Fat: 16g Saturated Fat: 9g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0.4g Cholesterol: 86mg Sodium: 308mg Potassium: 166mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 61g Vitamin A: 4709IU Vitamin C: 1mg Calcium: 72mg Iron: 1mg

Have you tried this recipe?

I’d love to see it! Follow @_mrs.madi_ on Instagram and tag your photos with #mrsmadi.