I was thinking the other about how many times I see the word BEST when I google something – especially a recipe. Evidently EVERYTHING is the best. So I thought to myself, I am gonna cool it with using that word. It is highly subjective and overused. Then I realized, when any food blogger says it’s the best – you’re god damn right it is the best. The best to them for sure. We all work hard creating what we consider THE BEST and we use that word and mean it. Like this – the BEST carrot cake.
I have had a lot of carrots cakes in my life. I worked at Baker Square as a kid, so I have been eating carrot cakes for a long ass time. And after testing this recipe and using it as the carrot cake recipe at the bake shop I managed a few years ago, and further having made this for about 30 people at different times (all have asked for it again or the recipe), I think if I say it is the best, than it is.
What makes yours the best carrot cake?
A couple things.
- First, it is super simple to make. It has minimal ingredients, many of which you have on hand.
- Second, it is full of carrots, which also equals it is moist AF. Carrots have a lot of water content, and like zucchini in cakes, help give it a great moist crumb.
- Third, it is just about the carrots pretty much. outside of walnuts, which I think are the ultimate compliment to carrots, there isn’t a lot going on here. There’s some cinnamon too, but no pineapple, raisins, coconut…things to distract you and confuse you about what kind of cake you are actually eating. If you want a cake packed full of different things try hummingbird cake, similar to carrot cake, but not a carrot cake.
- Fourth, the frosting. A whipped cream cheese frosting that could kill somebody with deliciousness. Basically a cream cheese frosting, but folded with whipped cream, making it lighter and oh so amazing. This is the traditional frosting for a carrot cake lightened up. And tbh, I don’t know why it isn’t the traditional frosting for pretty much every cake ever.
How about some tips for carrot cake baking?
You know it. I am never lacking for talking tips.
Use oil. I say in pretty much every cake post, I am an oil-only cake girl. I just like the crumb it creates in cakes better.
Don’t skimp on the cinnamon. You’re gonna look at this recipe and laugh because it looks like a sh-t ton of cinnamon. It works. Trust me. This carrot cake doesn’t have a lot going on outside of carrots and adding a fair amount of cinnamon gives it warmth and some depth.
Toast those walnuts. I cannot say this enough. ALWAYS ALWAYS toast your nuts. Even if a recipe doesn’t call it out specifically, do it anyways – don’t even ask. I promise you that you will not regret it.
Shred or grate whole carrots – do not use pre shredded carrots. This is probably my best tip here, and the one you’ll wanna roll your eyes at because, well, it’s extra work. But the payoff is worth it. And I mean, it takes maybe two solid minutes of grating on t box grater. Pre shredded packaged carrots are shred too thick and they are so damn dry. You will immediately notice all the water present in the fresh grated carrots and this is what you want…it makes for an extra moist carrot cake.
Last thing – with the Easter holiday right around the corner, I want to say that carrot cake is an excellent make-ahead cake. It doesn’t look moisture or texture a few days out. In fact, I think it’s best eaten the day after it is baked and assembled. Just make sure to store covered in the fridge (cream cheese frosting ya know).
The best carrot cake
For the cake
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon of oil
- 2/3 cup of sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 pounds whole carrots grated on a box cutter or in a food processor with the shredder disk
- 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts
For the frosting
- 1/2 stick of butter
- 1 package of cream cheese 8 ounces to be exact
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla
- 3 cups of powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350.
Lightly butter or grease an 8-inch round cake pan (you can easily make this a double layer cake, the measurements are crazy easy to double).
Combine oil, eggs, sugar and vanilla and whisk together. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients together and whisk to combine.
Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Fold in the shredded carrots and walnuts. Pour into greased pan and bake for about 30 -35 minutes. Center of the cake should be springy to the touch - when you gently press the center of cake it should bounce back, not leave an indent. Alternatively you could insert a toothpick and if it comes out clean, then it is finished. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a cooling wrack to cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, with a stand mixer (or a hand mixer), using the whisk attachment, beat the cream until medium peaks firm and it has becomes whipped cream. Spoon the whipped cream out into a separate bowl and set aside. In the same bowl you beat the whipped cream, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, about six minutes. Turn the mixer off and add the powdered sugar. Turn the mixer on LOW SPEED (or you will have a powdered sugar snowstorm in your kitchen), and whip the powdered sugar in. Once combined, turn mixer to high again and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add a pinch of salt and the vanilla and eat to combine. With a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until filly incorporated. Don't be rough with it, you want to keep all that air in the frosting to keep it light.
Frost the cooled cake and garnished with ground walnuts if you like.
Note - this frosting recipe is enough for a two-layer cake. Making this one layer, as I have, you might not use all the frosting, or you will have a sky high frosted cake (which is not a bad thing either). Use your judgment, here. Put as much frosting on as your like. The leftover will keep in a container in the fridge for a week. If you don't think you will use it, half the recipe.