Easter is right around the corner, so what’s on your menu? If you lucked out and got to be the family member in charge of bringing dessert, then I’ve got the recipe for you. Truth be told, I never liked carrot cake much until some point in my teens when I baked my own for the first time. Now I’m a huge fan, as long as it’s my own carrot cake – nothing with nuts and raisins in it and nothing too dense.
This recipe is pretty classic and simple, which I realize are two words I use quite a bit. Personally, I think there’s beauty (and deliciousness) in simplicity, so it’s usually the route I take. The end result is a moist and flavorful cake with a creamy and not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting.
I finally got around to buying myself a few 6-inch cake pans (instead of the standard 9-inch round) because I love visual appeal of the tall and narrow cake. Most cake recipes that call for two 9-inch pans could be made the same way in three 6-inch pans, so it’s a great way to get a unique look without making any recipe changes. I decided to use minimal frosting on the sides to create an almost naked look, and garnished the top with the loose crumbs that came off of the bare cake layers during assembly.
Classic Carrot Cake
Yields two layer 9-inch cake or three layer 6-inch cake
For the cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 3 cups lightly packed shredded carrots (about 4 large carrots)
For the frosting:
- 1 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 1-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans or three 6-inch round cake pans.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, sugars, and buttermilk. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, just until combined. Stir in the shredded carrots, ensuring no clumps remain.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cook in the pans for about 20 minutes before inverting onto wire racks to cool completely.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla extract, beating on low speed until well combined.
Carefully slice off any uneven dome on the top of the cakes and gently brush off loose crumbs. Place one layer, top side down, onto a plate. Spread a thick coat of frosting, then place the next layer of cake, top side down, on top. Spread the remaining frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Refine Baking Tips
To add a light coconut flavor to this cake, swap in coconut oil for the canola oil and garnish the finished product with shredded unsweetened coconut.