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Squares of carrot cake with frosting and pecan, on white paper

Simple Carrot Cake Recipe

  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 12 medium squares 1x
  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Whenever you crave a delicious and easy-to-make carrot cake you can use this recipe. It's very straightforward, versatile with ingredients, can be adapted to different pans and spice mixes and has a ginger frosting that is to die for. Oh, and it freezes wonderfully!



For substitution for several of the ingredients see the Notes, below 

For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (130g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) brown sugar 
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
  • 3/4 cup (100g) all-purpose or cake flour
  • 3/4 cup (100g) superfine whole wheat flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground allspice 
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (about 2 medium or 170g) grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup (65g) milk 

For the frosting:

  • 2/3 cup (160g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons heavy or double cream
  • 1/2 cup (80g) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)


For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven at 350°F/180°C.
  2. Butter or spray an 8-inch pan. You can line it with a piece of parchment paper as I do. It’s easier to remove after it’s baked. Or you can dust with fine breadcrumbs or flour.
  3. In a large bowl beat butter with sugar for 2-3 minutes, until creamy and smooth. 
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition but no more than half a minute or so.
  5. Sift over this mixture the dry ingredients (flours, spices, salt and baking powder). You can sift them apart or have them measured and do it directly. 
  6. Add grated carrots (it’s best to grate it at the last minute so they keep their moisture but don’t release liquid) and mix well. I do this with a spatula.
  7. Add milk and vanilla and mix until well incorporated. 
  8. Pour into the prepared pan, smooth top and bake for about 35-40 minutes, until springy if you lightly touch the center and a tester insertedin the middle comes out clean.
  9. Let cool on a wire rack until warm enough to handle and carefully remove from pan. 

For the frosting:

  1. In a bowl mix all ingredients until smooth. It will look like very thick honey. 
  2. Pour over the warm cake. 
  3. Keep at room temperature for 1 day and refrigerate leftovers, wrapped.


Carrots: you can peel them or not, your choice. What works best for me is grating them in the food processor or processing them. They stay dry longer, even if refrigerated. 

Substitutions: Flour - my favorite combination is all-purpose and whole wheat. But you can substitute the latter and only use white, regular flour (AP or cake flour). Spices - the only ones that are essential for a great flavor are cinnamon and ginger. Cream - use double, whipping or heavy cream. Or use the same amount of sour cream or even milk. Sugar - brown sugar gives it moisture and a wonderful caramel undertone, but this recipe works very well with white sugar if that's all you have. Add-ins - add a few gratings of fresh ginger and/or 2 tablespoons chopped nuts or raisins to the batter.

Pan sizes: this recipe can also be made in a loaf pan, 4x11-inch or similar. Cupcakes: this recipe renders 10-12 regular cupcakes.


  • Serving Size: 1/12
  • Calories: 291
  • Sugar: 24.2 g
  • Sodium: 120.1 mg
  • Fat: 14.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 37.7 g
  • Protein: 4.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 68.4 mg

Keywords: carrot cake