Want to know a secret recipe that has been part of my family gatherings for decades? It’s an easy carrot cake recipe that has brought comfort and joy to my family for as long as I can remember. There is something about old school cakes like these that may not sound very glamorous but warms the heart and feels like grandma’s hug.
A good warm squish like this carrot cake can give you should be let loose into the world. After all, food is meant to be shared and I truly believe that the hand that makes the recipe is the real secret behind any delicious meal.
Carrot Cake Haters Be Converted
Let’s talk about this infamous cake. It is moist, with a bit of bite. Best of all, it holds up well enough to be the centrepiece of any occasion, from a simple single layer afternoon tea cake to stacked sky high for a wedding. Paired with a lush cream cheese frosting, this is the best carrot cake I’ve ever had. And, yes, I am absolutely being biased here.
There are some strange people out there who don’t really care for carrot cake. Truly strange people. But perhaps they just haven’t tried my mom’s recipe. I myself don’t really like the run-of-the-mill carrot cakes you get in café food chains. Nothing beats a homemade carrot cake. This one, I’m ecstatic to report, has actually converted carrot cake haters into true believers.
It is packed full of carrots with a scattering of raisins, some walnuts for a lovely textural crunch and good dark cinnamon for that heavenly aroma. The texture is dense yet soft and topped with a luscious cream cheese frosting for that decadent melt in your mouth moment everyone loves.
Easy to Make, Easier to Eat
What I love about carrot cake is that it is easy to make, and this particular recipe does not require an electric mixer. You just need to put some muscles to good use grating the carrots and chopping the walnuts. Everything else is simple, so let’s break it down.
Carrot Cake Ingredients:
- 250g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 350g (1 3/4 cups) sugar
- 330g (3 cups) carrots, grated
- 120g (1 cup) walnuts, chopped
- 75g (1/2 cup) raisins (optional)
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 medium eggs
- 225g (1cup) vegetable or canola oil
- 50g (1/4 cup) milk
- 2 tsp baking soda
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
Portion for a single layer cake. Double the amount if you’re doing layers.
- 100g full-fat cream cheese, softened but still cool to the touch
- 100g salted butter, softened to but still cool to the touch
- 200g (2 cups) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Method – Carrot Cake:
- Heat oven to 170C on conventional heating (no fan).
- Prepare one or two 9-inch baking pans depending on if you want layers. Butter and flour the surface.
- Hand grate carrots and chop walnuts. About 3 large carrots will give you 3 cups.
- In a large bowl add grated carrots, chopped walnuts, all-purpose flour, sugar, cinnamon powder and salt. You can also choose to add raisins at this point. Stir with a big spoon or ladle until it looks evenly mixed.
- Crack the eggs into a separate small bowl. Give the eggs a quick scramble with a fork before pouring into the carrot and flour mixture. Stir.
- Add oil and mix thoroughly.
- Separately, add baking soda to the milk. Stir until baking soda has dissolved.
- Add the milk and baking soda mixture into the main batter. Stir thoroughly.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. For a single pan, bake for 60 to 70 minutes depending on your oven. If you decide to divide your batter into two portions to create a layered carrot cake, bake for around 45 to 50 minutes. Remember that you can check if your cake is done by inserting a toothpick into the center of your cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.
- Once baked, cool completely and top with beautiful cream cheese frosting.
Method – Cream Cheese Frosting:
- To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until it is light and fluffy. The frosting should be soft but still able to hold a shape. If you find that your cream cheese frosting is too runny, it may be because, like us, you live in a humid country and the heat is affecting your frosting. You can either pop it into the fridge for 10-15 minutes or add a bit more confectioners’ sugar. Now, if you find the frosting too thick, add a teaspoon of milk.
- You can use a food processor on your carrots, but I highly recommend that you hand grate them. It makes a difference to the texture of your cake.
- If you have a nut allergy or simply don’t like any type of nut, just remove them from the recipe.
- If you have something against walnuts specifically, then swap them out with pecans.
- Some days, if you’re feeling like going the extra mile, toast your walnuts or pecans to ramp up the savouriness. It’s a lovely contrast to all the sweetness and softness you get from the cake.
- If you’re making a layered cake and love pineapple in everything, chop a bit of it into small pieces and add it to the icing in the middle layer. This way, those who love pineapple in their carrot cake can enjoy it and those who don’t, can push that bit aside.
This cake is so versatile and really easy to make. With the amount of carrots required for the recipe, there is very little chance that it will turn out dry. Best yet, you can put it all together without any fancy equipment.
A Cake with a History and a Future
With this particular carrot cake recipe, I think of the first time I tried deciphering my mom’s handwriting in her disintegrating cooking notebook. I think of baking together with her as child. I think of birthdays, weddings and now baking with my kids! These are the best memories ever and with more to come.
Do you have family recipes that have been passed down? Please do share if it’s not a secret recipe, of course. More than just the recipe, I love all the stories tied to a dish, so please do share them as well. Food is really what pulls us together and around which the best memories are formed. You can share your story with me via Butterkicap’s Instagram and Facebook profiles.