This Carrot Cake is super moist, packed with big carrot cake flavor & slathered with tangy cream cheese frosting. Made as a sheet cake, it’s super easy and perfect for Easter!
An easter must-have
I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVE carrot cake (Carrot Cake Cupcakes are a close second). While it’s delicious year round, I especially crave it in the spring and around Easter. The spices, moist cake crumb, and tangy cream cheese frosting (preferably lots of it) are all delish.
Now, I think a simple carrot cake should be in everyone’s baking repertoire. This easy carrot cake recipe is one to add to your list. No fancy layers or extravagant toppings! Just simple ingredients, easy prep, and a more-than-satisfactory result. It’s made in a jelly roll pan – sheet cake style – which means easy prep work and less baking time.
Tips for Moist Carrot Cake
This cake is super moist for a few main reasons:
- Oil. Because oil is liquid at room temperature, it keeps your cake soft. And since carrot cake already has lots of flavor, you won’t taste the oil.
- 4 large eggs. Make sure they’re room temperature before getting started.
- Shredded carrots. The shredded carrots release moisture as they are baked.
I like to finely shred my carrots so they blend into the cake crumb. Or, you can use a food processor too if you want to save time.
Whatever you do, DON’T use the prepackaged shredded carrots that you can buy at the grocery store. They’re too dry and crunchy, and won’t produce as good of results as freshly grated carrots!
How to make carrot cake
Preheat the oven and prepare the jelly roll pan (AKA a rimmed baking sheet).
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a mixer, beat together the oil and sugars until evenly combined. Beat in the eggs until there are no lumps, scrape down the edges of the bowl, and then beat in the flour mixture. Lastly, beat in the grated carrots being sure to not over-mix.
Pour the cake batter into the pan and spread to the edges. Bake for 20-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the middle doesn’t wobble when you move the pan.
Let cool completely before frosting.
Using different pan sizes:
One of the appeals for this recipe is that you can make a large amount of carrot cake in one jelly roll pan. If you wish to use smaller pans you certainly can.
Be sure to check the cake a few minutes sooner than the recommended time and watch carefully so the cake doesn’t overcook. Inserting a toothpick in the center will help let you know when the cake is perfectly baked.
- 9 inch squares or rounds: Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes.
- Cupcake: bake at 350°F for 22-25 minutes
- Mini cupcakes: Bake at 350° F for 12-15 minutes
Cream Cheese Frosting for Carrot Cake
Once our cake is done baking, it’s time for the cream cheese frosting (probably my favorite part). It’s perfectly smooth, creamy, tangy, and not too sweet. The only trick here is making sure both your butter and cream cheese are at room temperature before getting started so they’ll mix together evenly without any lumps.
Beat the butter and cream cheese together, on medium speed, until smooth and evenly combined. Turn the mixer to low and pour in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Add vanilla, then mix in whipping cream 1 Tbsp at a time until you get the consistency you like.
NOTE: Adding whipping cream will make it more thin and creamy, and adding more powdered sugar will thicken it up. You can change this based on the consistency you prefer.
Can you substitute the walnuts? Yes! You can sub chopped pecans for the walnuts, or just omit them entirely.
Be Nutty: Have a little fun with the walnuts. Instead of sprinkling them randomly over the top of the cake you can form them into beautiful patterns. Creating thick diagonal stripes or a swirl pattern across the pan is easy and pretty. You can also create thick horizontal stripes, this way some of the cut cakes will have nuts and others won’t.
STORING + FREEZING
As long as it isn’t frosted, carrot cake can stay at room temperature for up to 3 days, covered with plastic wrap or foil. If it has frosting on it, you’ll need to store it in the fridge (since the frosting has perishable dairy items in it).
Stored in the fridge, the cake can last for about a week. You can either store the leftovers in the pan you baked it in, or slice it up and keep the individual slices in an airtight container.
Can carrot cake be frozen? Yes! It actually freezes really well, even if it’s iced. If you’re planning on making your cake in advance and freezing the whole thing, let the entire pan cool after baking, cover with a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil, and place in the freezer.
If you’re freezing leftovers that are already frosted, wrap the pieces in plastic wrap and foil, or place in a heavy duty freezer bag. When they’re stored right, they should last for 4-6 months.
This carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is a classic – and for good reason. Super moist, delicious and with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting – it’s the perfect recipe. I love it for Easter, but it’s delicious any time of year too!
For more Easter desserts, check out:
- Easter Dirt Cake
- Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- Rice Krispies Easter Cups
- Easter Basket Cookie Cups
- Carrot Cake Doughnuts
Carrot Cake Recipe
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 8 oz cream cheese bar softened
- 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1-2 tbsp whipping cream as needed
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts optional
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 13x17 inch jelly roll pan.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
- Then in a separate large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the oil and sugars until evenly combined. Then beat in the eggs, vanilla and sour cream until no sugar lumps remain. You may need to turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Then with the mixer on low speed, carefully beat in the flour mixture followed by the grated carrots. Be careful not to over mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan spreading it to the edges then bake in the preheated oven for 20-35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and if you give the pan a gently nudge the middle doesn't wobble.
- Allow to cool fully in the pan before frosting.
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter and cream cheese until very well softened and evenly combined.
- Then turn the mixer down to low speed and carefully beat in the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time, followed by the vanilla. Then beat in the whipping cream 1 tablespoon at a time as needed, or add in a little extra powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency.
- Frost the cooled cake, then decorate with chopped walnuts if desired.
This seriously looks delicious and perfect for any function! Thanks, Fiona! For more great recipes from her, be sure to head on over to Just So Tasty.