Homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing /Frosting and walnuts, a family-favourite dessert recipe not only for Easter, but also all year round. It is beautifully moist, with a dense texture and a magnificent blend of spices that works very well with the sweetness of the cream cheese icing. My kind of cake!
You wouldn't think that a cake containing veggies could taste that good, would you? Unlike other vegetables, carrots do not have a strong taste, and can hardly tell actually that the cake has carrots in it. They soften nicely when baked and the spices have a pretty sharp taste that gives this cake its distinctive flavour.
But how did the carrot cake recipe become so popular? It seems that carrots were used in puddings even in Medieval times, as they are naturally sweet and moist, and the food rationing in the WW2 may have contributed to the revival of old recipes.
Since vegetables were not rationed at all, and could be consumed in large quantities, it does make sense that sweet recipes calling for carrots would become favourite.
Nowadays, carrot cake is a very popular Easter dessert, although it can, of course, be baked all year around. And you only need a few simple ingredients to make the sponge. The cream cheese frosting makes it even more delicious, I wouldn't really have it without it.
- Ingredients used to make the carrot cake
- Easy swaps
- Step-by-step photos and instructions to make carrot cake
- Ingredients needed to make cream cheese icing / frosting
- Step-by-step photos and instructions to make cream cheese icing
- Expert tips
- Recipe FAQs
- Other Easter recipes
- Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
Ingredients used to make the carrot cake
- carrots - I like to peel them off instead of grating them with the peel on
- walnuts - they give a nice crunch to the cake
- self-raising flour - for a lighter texture
- baking powder - I still use it even if I used self-raising flour
- spices: cinnamon, ginger and mixed spices
- eggs - at room temperature
- oil - the cake uses quite a bit of oil, but the sponge is not greasy or oily at all
- caster sugar and brown sugar - the caster sugar adds sweetness, while the dark brown sugar gives the cake its dark colour
- vanilla extract - optional
You don't have to add walnuts to it, but the nice crunch works perfectly well here. Pecans can also be used instead of walnuts, and l can see many recipes calling either for dried fruit like raisins or fresh/canned fruit like pineapples.
I personally think it's a matter of choice and it comes down to your own taste. You can also use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, although this means the cake will have a coconut taste.
I love vanilla icing, and you can use just that if you don't have cream cheese, just double up the the ingredients (or triple up if yo like more icing!!! and that should be all. Make this recipe yours and add anything you like, as long as the texture is right and basic ingredients are not removed.
Step-by-step photos and instructions to make carrot cake
- Beat together the oil, sugars and eggs until you get a smooth paste
- Add the grated carrots, flour, spices and vanilla extract, plus the chopped walnuts
- Grease and flour a round baking tin (mine is 23 cm or 9 inches in diameter), add the batter, and bake at 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for about 45-50 minutes or until the top is firm and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Ingredients needed to make cream cheese icing / frosting
- cream cheese - use full-fat cream cheese, as the lighter one is too watery and will change the texture of the icing
- icing sugar / confectioners' sugar
- butter - soften
- vanilla extract - you can omit it if you wish, the icing is still delicious
Step-by-step photos and instructions to make cream cheese icing
NOTE! The key to making the best cream cheese icing is using full-fat ingredients, rather than low fat or o fat. That's because they have less water, which means the icing will be not become runny.
If you use a hand mixer beat together the soften butter, sugar and vanilla extract; when you have a smooth paste, add the soft cream cheese, and gently mix. Do not overmix!
If you use a food processor, just add all the ingredients together, and blitz to a smooth consistency, that's all!
If the icing does becoming runny for any reason, add one tablespoon of corn flour (or more) and mix, the icing should get to the right consistency after. In the UK, we do not get block cream cheese, so the texture is a lot softer, which means there is minimal beating needed when adding it to the butter.
Some recipes call for a ridiculous amount of granulated sugar, which l don't seem to think necessary, since the icing is sweet anyway. For my easy carrot cake recipe, l cut down a lot on sugar and l'm happy with the amount of sweetness, so let's call it a lighter carrot cake.
If you have 2 cake tins of the same diameter, you can divide the batter evenly and bake them at the same time - the baking time will probably reduce to 30-40 minutes maximum, so then all you have to do once the sponges have cooled, is ice them.
If you choose to use one tin like I did, you have to allow it to cool then use a sharp knife to cut it in half horizontally, then ice it.
If stored in a cool room, the cake does not need refrigerating. It lasts for at least 3-4 days at room temperature. However, if the room is too hot, it is better to refrigerate it.
Yes! While cream cheese icing or frosting is buttercream with cream cheese added, you can use only buttercream instead, that's absolutely fine.
Using oil instead of butter adds a lot of moisture to the sponge, making it a lot lighter too. Use self-raising flour and baking powder too for a lighter moister texture, and make sure you beat the eggs well.
Other Easter recipes
If you are looking for a mini version of this delicious cake, why not try my Carrot Cake Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling? They are so good!
For more ideas on a fabulous Easter, how about my Easter Recipes post? I promise it won't disappoint!
If you’ve tried this MOIST CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
- 300 g self-raising flour
- 250 ml sunflower oil
- 4 eggs
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 100 g dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon mixed spices
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 200 g grated carrots
- 100 g chopped walnuts + more for decorating
For the cream cheese icing
- 200 g full-fat cream cheese
- 150 g butter, soften
- 300 g icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- To make the sponge, add the eggs, sugars and oil to a bowl and whisk well until you get a smooth, thick consistency.
- Add the grated carrots, sifted flour, spices, vanilla extract and chopped walnuts and mix everything well with a spatula.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit).
- Oil and flour a round cake tin (mine is 23 cm, 9 inches), and add the batter to it.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes until the sponge is firm to touch and well risen with a golden brown colour and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from the tin and allow it to cool.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the sponge horizontally into 2 equal-sized sponges.
- Meantime, make the icing by adding all the ingredients to a food processor and blitz until smooth.
- Alternatively, use a hand mixer to get a smooth icing.
- Once the sponges have cooled down, arrange one cake on a plate or cake stand, spread half of the icing over, arrange the second cake on top, and spread the remaining icing over the top and sides.
- Decorate with more chopped walnuts.
- Click on the US Customary link to see the measurements displayed in cups and ounces.
- The servings can be adjusted by clicking the number next to Servings.
- Some recipes call for a ridiculous amount of granulated sugar, which l don't seem to think necessary, since the icing is sweet anyway. For my easy carrot cake recipe, l cut down a lot on sugar and l'm happy with the amount of sweetness, so let's call it a lighter carrot cake.
- If you have 2 cake tins of the same diameter, you can divide the batter evenly and bake them at the same time - the baking time will probably reduce to 30-40 minutes maximum, so then all you have to do once the sponges have cooled, is ice them.
- If you choose to use one tin like I did, you have to allow it to cool then use a sharp knife to cut it in half horizontally, then ice it.