- Preheat the oven to 160°C.
- Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla seeds on high-speed until tripled in volume.
- Mix almond flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and baking powder with carrots and walnuts in a separate bowl.
- Add gradually the dry ingredients and the melted butter to the egg mixture and stir well until combined.
- Grease a 24 cm round baking tin and line the bottom with baking paper.
- Pour the batter into it and smooth the surface. Bake for approx. 1 hour and 20 minutes or until baked, and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool completely before adding the frosting.
Cream cheese icing
- Whisk cream cheese and icing sugar for 5 minutes – or until light and fluffy. Add lemon juice and mix well.
- Spread cream cheese icing on top of the cooled cake and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
A cake that has it all
Get everything in one bite: sweetness, spices, texture, moisture, and a mouth-watering zesty and lemony cream cheese frosting. Of course, this is the classic carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
In this recipe you learn how to make carrot cake from scratch. Use it as a birthday cake, for a light and scrumptious dessert or just for yourself when you are craving cream cheese frosting and a sweet and spicy carrot cake.
Adjust the recipe to your preferences
Our recipe has almond flour in it, but you can also use all-purpose flour. The almond flour goes well with the carrots and spices, but you will still get an amazing cake when using another type of flour. Remember, even though you substitute almond flour for all-purpose flour 1:1, the two types of flour are not the same. Almond flour is heavier and contains more moisture, so you will typically need to add more egg and binding agent.
This is a carrot cake with walnuts, but you can also use pecans, almonds or hazelnuts. Use your favourite nuts or none at all. The nuts add some crunch to the cake, but if you are allergic or prefer a smooth cake without crunch, you can easily leave them out.
Despite the many ingredients, this is a simple carrot cake recipe. No need for spending the whole day weighing, mixing, baking and icing. And since it is that simple, you can change it to your likings, so you end up with a homemade carrot cake recipe with all your favourite flavours.
Obviously, a carrot cake recipe always contains carrots, but which spices do you like the most? And do you like other vegetables than carrots that you might want to add? We will guide you through all the delicious options.
Where does carrot cake come from?
The history of carrot cake goes way back and it is difficult to say who invented it and pinpoint the exact origin. Some say that carrot cake dates all the way back to Medieval times with a type of carrot pudding, while others date it even further back to an Arabian cookbook in the 10th century. In 1783, George Washington is said to have been served a carrot cake quite similar to the sweet, moist cake filled with a bunch of spices that we know today. And then in 1814, a French chef included a recipe of carrot cake, "Gâteau de Carottes", in his cookbook that quickly became popular and made its way to England only a decade later.
Today, carrot cake is well-known and loved all over the world for its moist and fluffy texture and sweet and spicy taste. The ingredients of carrot cake vary from country to country and especially from family to family. Often you will hear that people have the best carrot cake recipe in the world – which means that you can bake a carrot cake exactly like you want to find out which version is the best one for you.
Spice it up!
Most carrot cake recipes use a lot of spices from sweet cinnamon to bold and spicy nutmeg. And the best thing about a homemade carrot cake is that you can add even more spices – if you dare! Experiment with the ingredients and try adding more than what it says in the recipe to find your own perfect mix of spices.
Ground ginger is the ingredient adding the most spice in this recipe, and if you add just half a teaspoon more, your cake will get much more flavour and spice. And what are carrot cakes if not filled with flavour? If you love the distinct ginger spice, try experimenting with adding more. Just be careful not to add too much so you cannot taste anything else.
If you like your cake savoury, spicy and extra yummy, try adding half a teaspoon of ground cloves to the batter. Be careful not to add cloves while also using more of the other spices as it might end up being too spicy – but try it out and see how you like it.
Use your favourite seasonal fruits and vegetables
Carrots are delicious but did you know that you can use other vegetables and even fruits in your carrot cake recipe as well? In fact, there is a perfect vegetable or fruit for each season. Now that is what we call a good reason to bake a carrot cake more often!
In spring, pineapple is in season. It is sweet, exotic, and full of flavour, which makes it a perfect buddy for your sweet and spicy carrot cake. Further down, we have explained how you can make a carrot cake with pineapple.
In summer, try using zucchinis. It is just as moist and easy to grate as carrots, and the two vegetables make the perfect pair. You can substitute an equal amount of carrot with zucchini or use one vegetable more than the other. No matter what, your carrot cake will get even better than usual.
In fall, butternut squash and pumpkin are in season. These vegetables are sweet too, and in the same way as zucchini they add just a bit more depth and flavour to your carrot cake.
In winter, oranges are in season. Use the juice and zest in the batter and/or in the frosting. It will add sweetness as well as a hint of bitterness that perfectly complement your carrots. In the frosting, be careful not to add too much juice as it might affect the texture of your cream cheese frosting.
How to make a carrot cake moist?
One of the best things about a carrot cake is its moisture, and luckily, a carrot cake is quite easy to make moist. The carrots get very wet when grated, and this adds a whole lot of moisture to the batter. If your carrot cake keeps getting dry, try adding more carrots. And make sure to use fresh carrots and grate them just before use to keep all that delicious moisture.
Did you notice that we use brown sugar in this carrot cake recipe? In this cake, brown sugar is much better than granulated sugar because it produces more moisture. We have also added all of five eggs to this recipe since eggs are important for making a moist cake. Especially if you use small eggs, you can add extra yolks. Yolks contain more fat, and more fat in a cake means more moisture.
Often you will use oil for a carrot cake, but if you are looking for a carrot cake recipe with butter, you have come to the right place. A carrot cake with butter will be just as moist and delicious as an oil-based version, and you might even find it to be more flavourful and lighter since oil usually has a more neutral flavour. In addition, butter is a better leavening than oil. Use Lurpak® slightly salted butter to add an extra touch of salty flavour to the sweet carrots.
Ace your carrot cake frosting with cream cheese every time
There are a lot of great advice on how to make carrot cake frosting perfectly without ending up with a soggy, flavourless icing. Frosting for a carrot cake is one of the most important elements – what is a carrot cake without cream cheese frosting?
Our recipe for carrot cake frosting is fool proof and guarantees a smooth and firm frosting. Our first tip is to use only cold ingredients. Leave the cream cheese in the fridge until you are ready to use it. And do not overbeat the cream cheese as this will often result in a runny frosting.
This carrot cake icing, or rather frosting, has a lemony taste that goes well with the spicy and sweet carrot cake. You can also use orange juice and zest instead of lemon if you want a sweeter and slightly bitter flavour. Orange and carrot are a perfect pair so you can never go wrong with a carrot cake cream cheese frosting with orange flavour.
When icing a carrot cake, you can choose to either spread it on top as we do in this recipe, or you can make it a layer cake. Either bake the cake in different baking tins or in one tin so you cut and divide the cake into two or more tiers when it has cooled down. Spread your cream cheese frosting on one cake tier, add new tier, then a layer of frosting and so on. Make sure you have enough frosting to cover the top and maybe also the sides.
If you want to make a carrot cake frosting without cream cheese, the easiest alternative is a traditional buttercream. Mix softened Lurpak® unsalted butter with powdered sugar, a smidge of milk, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. You need just a bit more powdered sugar than butter. Then just whisk away until it becomes smooth and firm so you can spread it on your delicious carrot cake.
Make your carrot cake recipe with pineapple
As mentioned above, spring is perfect for pineapple. And this fruit just happens to be a popular carrot cake ingredient. Some use it as a "moisture insurance" since the moisture in pineapples guarantees a perfectly moist and yummy cake. Often you will use canned pineapple which is very sweet, and this is a perfect sweet addition to your carrot cake.
You can chop the pineapple into small pieces or crush them to make them blend in better with the carrots. Is this too exotic for you? No worries – we love a carrot cake without pineapple as much as the more exotic version, but if you have not tried it yet, you should give it a chance.
You can also make a carrot cake with raisins as this goes well with the heavy, bold spices. Not all people like raisins in cakes, but if you do, they add something great to your cake. Especially in combination with the nuts.
Creative carrot cake decorating ideas
Carrot cakes are more than just the delicious flavour. Decorating a carrot cake is just as important as adding the right amount of spices and making it moist and yummy. And it is easy because of the cream cheese frosting. If you spread the frosting around the sides of the cake, you can easily add pretty decorations to it.
The carrot cake decoration does not have to be all flowers and glitter. In this carrot cake recipe, we use finely chopped walnuts to sprinkle over the top, but you can also use roasted pecans or other nuts. You can also use an icing bag to make pretty patterns with your frosting on the top and sides of your cake. You can even experiment with adding a splash of icing colour to your frosting.
Another favourite is caramel syrup to pour over the carrot cake and cream cheese frosting. This adds a delicious sweetness that complements the cake perfectly and it looks amazing.
Carrot cakes in all shapes and sizes
You find a lot of different carrot cake designs out there. Not just regarding decorations, but also how you build the cake or simply how you use the batter. As we mentioned above, you can make a layer cake with moist, creamy layers of cake and frosting, but you can also make carrot cupcakes. You make the batter as you would for the cake but reduce the baking time. Put the batter into cupcake liners and bake for 10-20 minutes depending on their size. Look after 8-10 minutes and use a skewer to check the texture. Decorate with cream cheese frosting when the cupcakes have cooled down.