This ridiculously delicious carrot cake only uses one bowl! It’s super moist and fluffy with a hint of cinnamon, and is absolutely packed full of grated carrot.
When it comes to carrot cakes, you can’t go past cream cheese frosting as the perfect pairing. My staple cream cheese frosting recipe uses half butter and half cream cheese for the best flavour, texture and appearance!
This carrot cake is also delicious with a cup of raisins or chopped roasted nuts folded through the batter. Either way, it’s bound to be a new favourite recipe with everyone who tries it!
Ingredients in Carrot Cake
- Canola oil: you can also use any kind of flavourless vegetable or cooking oil (safflower, sunflower etc.). Do NOT use coconut or olive oil (or any other strongly flavoured oil) as you will be able to taste it in the finished cake.
- Caster sugar / superfine sugar: finer sugar dissolves more readily into the liquid ingredients and makes the final cake more moist with a crisp crust. You can use an equal amount of white granulated sugar instead, but note that the cake may be a little more dense or heavy.
- Brown sugar: brown sugar gives the cake a softer, moister texture and richer flavour.
- Can I substitute the brown sugar with more white sugar? Yes, however note that the cake will be likely be heavier and less fluffy. It will still taste fine!
- Vanilla essence OR vanilla extract
- Grated carrots: you don’t need to peel the carrots (as long as you wash them first). Lightly pack the grated carrots into a cup to measure them.
- Plain flour / all-purpose flour
- Can I use self-raising flour? Yes. Reduce the baking powder to 1 tsp if you are using self-raising flour.
- Baking powder: NOT baking soda. Check that your baking powder is within its expiry date or the cake will collapse and/or taste bitter.
How to Make Cake and Frosting
1. Combine the canola oil, caster sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs and grated carrot in a bowl.
2. Stir together until well combined.
3. Sift over the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
4. Stir together until combined and smooth. Don’t worry about any small lumps in the batter.
5. Pour into a 20 cm (8 inch) round cake tin lined with baking paper.
6. Bake until golden, evenly risen, and a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
7. Place room temperature butter and room temperature cream cheese in a bowl.
8. Beat until creamy, pale and smooth.
9. Sift over icing sugar. Add lemon juice and vanilla. Beat until very pale, fluffy and smooth.
10. Slather over the cooled carrot cake. Decorate with chopped nuts if desired.
Top Tips & FAQs
- Why did my carrot cake sink in the middle?
- Your baking powder is expired: make sure your baking powder is in date! This is a very common cause of collapsed or sunken cakes.
- You overmixed the cake batter: this is a very forgiving batter, but still try not to overmix the wet and dry ingredients. Small lumps are okay – you do not need to beat the batter until it is completely smooth.
- You opened the oven too early: as a general rule of thumb, don’t open the oven door until at least 3/4 of the recommended baking time has passed. In this case, don’t open the oven door until at least 35-40 minutes in.
- You left the batter out on the bench too long before baking: rising agents such as baking powder as most effective within 1 hour of being added to cake batters. Leaving the cake batter out for more than 1 hour can affect how well the cake rises.
- Why is my carrot cake dense?
- You weighed your dry ingredients incorrectly: when measuring dry ingredients such as flour, spoon the flour into the measuring cup until it is overflowing (do not pack down), then use a flat-bladed butter knife to level off the excess flour.
- Can I make a two layer cake?
- Yes. To make this cake two layer, use 15 cm (6 inch) cake tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes and check with a skewer. Double the cream cheese frosting recipe to cover the whole cake.
- Butter vs oil in carrot cakes.
- Oil will make a carrot cake very moist and rich, like a banana bread. Using melted butter gives you a spongier, lighter cake closer to a white or vanilla cake. I highly recommend using oil for this recipe.
For the Carrot Cake
- ¾ cup (188 mL) canola oil
- ½ cup (120 g) caster sugar / superfine sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar (110 g), lightly packed
- 1 tsp vanilla essence (5 mL) OR 1/2 tsp (3 mL) vanilla extract
- 2 large (60 g each) eggs
- 2 cups (260 g / approx. 4-5 large) grated carrots
- 1 ½ cups (225 g) plain flour / all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp (16 g) baking powder
- 1 tsp (6 g) salt
- 1 tsp (5 g) ground cinnamon
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 60 g (2 oz / ¼ cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 60 g (2 oz / ¼ cup) cream cheese, softened
- 1 ½ cups (195 g) icing sugar / powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 tbsp (40 mL) lemon juice
- 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla essence OR 1/2 tsp (3 mL) vanilla extract
For the Carrot Cake
- Preheat the oven to 160°C / 320°F (fan/convection) or 180°C / 355°F (standard). Grease and line a 20 cm (8 inch) round cake tin with baking paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together oil, sugars, vanilla essence, eggs and grated carrot.
- Sift over the plain flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir together until just combined.
- Pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- In the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat together the butter and cream cheese on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the sifted icing sugar, lemon juice and vanilla essence. Beat for another 3-4 minutes on high speed until fluffy, thick and pale. If your frosting is too thick, add 1 tsp of lemon juice at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
- Spread evenly over the top of the cooled cake. The frosting will continue to firm up over the next couple of hours.
- You can keep the iced cake un-refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- To freeze the cooled (un-iced) cake, wrap tightly in clingwrap and place in a zip-loc or freezer bag. Keep frozen for up to 6 months. Allow to defrost at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight then top with frosting and serve as normal.
Substitutions & Tips
- Canola oil: you can substitute canola oil for any type of vegetable oil. Please note that using a rich olive oil may change the flavour of the cake.
- Brown sugar: you can substitute the 1/2 cup of brown sugar for an additional ½ cup of caster sugar, if necessary. This will make the cake a bit fluffier and less dense and moist.
- Additions: you can try adding 1 cup of sultanas, raisins, currants, or chopped roasted nuts.
- This frosting recipe makes enough frosting to cover just the top of the cake. If you want to cover the sides of the cake as well, I recommend doubling the quantity of frosting.
Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 1/8th of Cake with Frosting
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 570Total Fat: 31.4gSaturated Fat: 7.3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 70.3mgSodium: 244.9mgCarbohydrates: 68.6gFiber: 1.8gSugar: 48.9gProtein: 4.7g