This tender, moist carrot cake is spicy and delicious. Rich, whipped cream cheese frosting with a hint of lemon brings it all together. Both the cake and frosting are easy baking projects for all experience levels.
Oh carrot cake, how I love you! Moist, tender, and full of cinnamon and other yummy spices. I would say carrot cake is my favorite but then that would discount chocolate cake and pound cake and fresh strawberry cake! Yeah…I could never play favorites with cake.
Carrot Cake: The Easiest Cake to Bake
However, I can safely say that carrot cake is one of the simplest cakes to make! Follow a good recipe and you always have a moist, tender cake that rises well and never sinks. The flavor is excellent and most people absolutely love it!
Nuts and raisins are a personal choice. Sometimes I put them in, sometimes I don’t. But the cream cheese frosting is a requirement! I put just a little bit of fresh lemon juice in mine and it perfectly balances the sweetness of the frosting. The combo is pure magic.
Easter is creeping up on us quick like a bunny. Carrot cake is always a wonderful addition to your Easter spread. Happy baking!
Baking with Raisins
Raisins (especially ones that have been in the pantry for a bit) are often dried out by the time you use them for baking. Before you add the raisins try plumping them up with water, apple juice, or spiced rum. This means the raisins will be moist and juicy on their own so they won’t absorb liquid from the cake and dry it out.
Add the raisins and 1/4 cup of your liquid of choice to a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Let the raisins sit and absorb liquid until you are ready to add them. Drain any extra liquid and add the raisins as directed.
Tools In This Post: I don’t like to grate cheese or carrots by hand. It takes too long and every so often my fingers get in the way… I’m a huge fan of this food processor for easy food prep and saving my fingers for things like tasting frosting! I’ve had mine more than a decade now and we are still best friends.
HOW TO BAKE A PERFECT CAKE
Have you ever tried baking a cake and gotten a big old hill? There are two things you can try:
- Buy a good quality cake pan! This helps with heat distribution for even baking.
- Try wrapping your cake pan! I have a tutorial on it here. When I wrap a cake it always rises fully level! This trick has gotten me through 10 years of baking – I love it!
Perfect Carrot Cake and Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
For The Cake
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups grated carrots (from about 5 medium carrots)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
- 1 cup raisins or dried currants (optional - see note)
For The Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 ounces cream cheese (2 standard 8oz boxes)
- 1 cup salted butter (2 American sticks)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 8 cups powdered sugar (a 32oz bag)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3-5 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (or more to taste - don’t use bottled juice)
- Tip: A great cake is baked in such a way that it rises flat and doesn't need to be leveled! The sides and bottom will be more tender and the entire cake is taller and more fluffy. See the full tutorial here.
To Bake The Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of two 9” pans with parchment paper and grease the sides with butter. Dust sides with flour and tap out the excess. (I suggest using my towel wrapping method on the cake pans for a moister cake that rises more evenly.)
- In a large bowl, use a spoon to stir together the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until well mixed. Add everything else except the carrots. Stir just until combined and only streaks of flour remain.
- Add carrots, walnuts and raisins. Stir until incorporated and divide batter between the two pans. (See note on raisins if using.)
- Bake 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Hint: The edges of the cake will start to pull away from the sides of the pan just a bit when it is done.
- Let cakes rest in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn them out unto racks to cool the rest of the way.
To Make The Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the cream cheese, butter and salt. Whip on high for about 1 minute until thoroughly combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and lemon juice. Stir on low speed until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the mixer and then turn on high for 3-4 minutes until the frosting is creamy and fluffy. Taste and add more lemon juice if desired.