A carrot walnut cake is the perfect spring recipe and is an Easter dessert favorite. This cake recipe is moist, full of grated carrots, walnut and cinnamon. It comes together quickly and easily as a simple single layer cake with a luxurious cream cheese frosting.
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 time. And after testing this recipe and using it as the carrot walnut 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.
Why you'll love this recipe
A couple things.
- It is super simple to make. It has minimal ingredients, many of which you have on hand.
- 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.
- It is just about the carrots and the walnuts, 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.
- 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.
This cake has minimal ingredients and most you likely have on hand. Here's what you need:
- Carrots. I grate them on a grater so they are thin. You can of course use pre shredded carrots you can get at the grocery store.
- Walnuts. Full of healthy fats and a great flavor. Perfect compliment to the carrots.
- Oil. I am an oil-based cake girl all the way. Sure, butter has a place in baking (more than oil), but for cakes I love recipes with oil.
- Leavening. Both baking powder and baking soda.
This whipped cream cheese frosting has all your typical cream cheese frosting ingredients and then just some whipped heavy cream folded in. It lightens it up and makes it super fluffy. And it is amazing. Here's what you need:
- Cream cheese. Make sure it is room temperature.
- Butter. Also room temperature.
- Powdered sugar
- Heavy cream. This will get whipped in a separate bowl and then folded into the cream cheese frosting.
Tips for success
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.
Other great spring desserts
Spring means light, bright and fresh desserts, check out a few more of my great spring dessert recipes
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).
- 8-inch cake round
For the cake
- ⅓ cup oil
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ pounds whole carrots grated on a box cutter or in a food processor with the shredder disk
- ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
For the frosting
- 4 oz butter
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- pinch 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.