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+ servings

Carrot Cake

This carrot cake recipe makes a perfectly moist and delicious cake that is covered with the best cream cheese frosting.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time 22 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 52 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16 people
Calories 446 kcal

Equipment

  • 3 - 8 or 9" round cake pans

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup pecans (whole, chopped, or pieces)*
  • 2 cups fresh carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup full-fat sour cream

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
  • 2 (8 oz.) packages full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar

Instructions
 

  • Peel and finely grate the carrots using the holes of a box grater.
  • Preheat your oven to 225°F.
  • Spread the pecans evenly on an unlined baking pan and roast them in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.
  • On parchment paper, use a pencil to trace the bottom of the cake pans and cut the circles out. Spray the inside of the cake pans with non-stick cooking spray, add the traced circles to the pan with the pencil side down and spray with more non-stick spray.
  • In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ground nutmeg.
  • In a large bowl, whisk both sugars with the vegetable oil, add the room temperature eggs, vanilla extract, and sour cream. Whisk until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Stir in the chopped pecans and grated carrots.
  • Pour the cake batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 20-22 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean.
  • Let the cakes cool for 5-10 minutes before removing them from the pans. Use a butter knife to separate the cake from the edge of the pan and then flip the pan over to remove the cake. Keep the cake sitting upright because the tops of the cake will stick to any surface. Let the cakes cool completely before frosting. You can also leave the cakes in the pans, cover them with aluminum foil, and then place the pans in the freezer overnight, which makes frosting easier.

Make the cream cheese frosting:

  • Add the softened butter and softened cream cheese to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Use a hand-held mixer or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer to cream them together until smooth. Add the salt, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  • Once the cakes have cooled completely, use a large serrated knife to carefully remove the domed tops from the cakes.* Place the first cake layer, cut side up, onto a cake stand, a serving plate, or a serving board. Add a generous amount of frosting on top and spread it all over using an offset spatula. Place the second cake layer, cut side down, on top of the frosting. Spread a generous amount of frosting all over the top and around the sides of the cake. Let the first layer of frosting set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and then add a second coating of frosting. Repeat with a third coating if needed.

Notes

* You can also make this a 3-layer cake. Divide the batter evenly between 3 - 8 or 9" round cake pans and bake for 25 minutes. A toothpick will come out clean when the cakes are done. 
*If using whole pecans or pecan halves, roast them and then chop finely once cooled.
*Use cake strips for cakes with flat, even layers that don't need to be leveled off! Cake strips work by making the cakes bake more slowly and evenly, so the outside doesn't set as quickly. You can buy a reusable set for less than $10 on Amazon, or make an easy DIY version: Soak some paper towels or newspaper in water and fold into long, thin strips, the same size as your cake pan, then wrap it with aluminum foil and secure the foil around the cake pans. You might need to add a few minutes to the bake time, the cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
To freeze carrot cake(unfrosted): Once the cakes have cooled completely, wrap the individual layers in plastic wrap and then wrap tightly with aluminum foil. Keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Frost as normal straight from frozen. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice (frosted)Calories: 446kcalCarbohydrates: 65.6gProtein: 6.1gFat: 18.4gSaturated Fat: 10.5gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 341mgPotassium: 204mgFiber: 1.2gSugar: 48.1gCalcium: 78mgIron: 2mg
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