“Vegetables are a must on a diet
I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie.”
-Jim Davis (the creator of Garfield)
Happy New Year to all you lovely people! Hope this year has started on a sweet note and I wanted to greet you with this beautiful carrot cake recipe that looks (and tastes) spectacular! Last week when I sat down to make our meal plan, I wanted to bake my big apple-cinnamon cake for the holiday season but Sikander asked for a Carrot cake complete with cream cheese frosting. And so it was decided :-).
This is the BEST CARROT CAKE with a super easy recipe! Perhaps I’m taking a risk claiming it “the best”, but I honestly have not tasted a more delicious, and moist carrot cake than this one. Most carrot cakes tend to be a bit heavy and dry — not this one. It is made with 100% wholewheat flour. It’s perfectly sweet; not too much, not too less; with a moist base and a delicious cream cheese frosting.
But before we get into the carrot cake recipe, I want to express gratitude for all those who have already filled up my First annual Reader’s survey and humbly requesting those who haven’t to please take a few moments to fill it right here. It would just take about 5 mins of your time but help me a lot in improving the blog the way you want to see it!
And now back to the carrot cake recipe:-)
What makes the carrot cake moist?
The secret to the moistness of this carrot cake is the applesauce. I simply boiled one apple with a little water and puréed it while I was preparing other ingredients for the cake. It hardly takes any time.
Carrot cake is THE treat for this season. With naturally sweet carrots in the season, don’t let it go without feasting and sharing this delicious treat with friends and family. The recipe makes a generous amount, which is great for about 24 people (less if you are greedy!). I made two cakes — one an 8” round two-layer carrot cake and a 6” round single layer carrot cake. We shared it with our friends who came over on 25th and 26th, we shared it with our neighbors, and we shared it with the building guards and workers who returned to work on 27th. And in between all, the two us kept sneaking in a “just a thin slice” till it was all gone!
Did you know that carrot cake originated from a shortage of sugar?
While the exact origins of Carrot cake are disputed, I like these two theories:
- Sugar Shortage: Seasonal carrots had long been used as sugar substitutes in carrot puddings and so in Middle Ages when there was a shortage of sugar, the carrot pudding evolved into the carrot cake.
- A bumper carrot harvest: I couldn’t find much support for this theory but the story goes that a bumper carrot harvest led people to come up with new recipes so that the carrots won’t go waste and out of that was born the Carrot cake!
Well, whatever be the origins, this easy, delicious, and moist carrot cake is great for a special occasion or gathering.
Along with seasonal carrots, the cake has hints of warm winter spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Plus a lot of walnuts to add a nice crunch to the soft base.
How to make the best carrot cake
Carrot cake Ingredients
- Fresh Produce:Carrots and apple.
- Dry Ingredients: Wholewheat flour, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger), salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Wet ingredients: Oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.
- For the carrot cake frosting: Cream cheese, butter, icing sugar, and vanilla extract.
Tools you will need to make carrot cake
- Basic utensils (spoons, knife, spatula, etc)
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- A kitchen scale (optional): If you want to weigh the flour but I have given quantities in both weight and volume measures.
- Cake beater: I simply use a hand held portable mixer (I love the storage that comes with this particular model!).
- cake pan(s): I have used one 8” springform cake pan and one 6” regular cake pan to make two cakes.
- Parchment paper
Best Carrot cake recipe
- Grate the carrots and prepare the applesauce.
- Measure and mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls.
- Beat the wet ingredients.
- Fold in the dry ingredients and then the carrots and walnuts.
- Beat the frosting ingredients and cover the cake with it!
It is an easy-to-follow recipe that makes a super delicious, fluffy, and moist cake. If you like it, please take a moment to rate and/or leave your thoughts in comments. It will really encourage me to keep exploring, learning and improving.
Best Carrot Cake Recipe
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
Carrot Cake Mix
- 3 cups grated carrots (from 3-4 large carrots or ~250g)
- 1 apple (~130g)
- 1 cup crushed walnuts (120g, divided)
- 2¼ cups whole wheat flour (300 g)
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- ¼ tsp nutmeg powder
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup vegetable oil (240ml, use any unflavored variety. I used sunflower oil)
- 2 cups brown sugar , lightly packed (300g)
- 4 medium eggs
For Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup cream cheese , softened (125 g, half tub of regular cream cheese)
- 2 tbsp butter , softened (30g)
- ½ cup icing sugar (50g)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Prepare the cake tins by lining with parchment paper. I made one large, 2-layer 8” round cake and one small, singe-layer 6” round cake. Preheat oven to 180ºC (356ºF; gas mark 4)
- To make the applesauce: Peel and chop the apple into small chunks. Add to a small saucepan with about ¼ cup water and cook for 10 mins till it’s soft. Remove from heat and purée with a blender or simply mash with a fork.
- Peel and grate the carrots. Chop the walnuts. Keep aside.
- Dry Ingredients: In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon powder, ginger powder, and nutmeg powder.
- Wet Ingredients: In another mixing bowl, beat together oil, applesauce, vanilla extract, and brown sugar for 2-3 mins on medium speed. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients mixture to the wet mix, little by little, combining then well until the batter is smooth. Keep scraping the batter from the sides of the bowl while mixing.
- Fold in the grated carrots and ¾ of chopped walnuts. Divide the batter into the prepared cake tins. Bake in the middle rack for 40-50 mins till a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.*
- Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 10 miss before removing from the pan. To remove loosen the sides and then open the springform. We ate the 6” cake as is without any frosting. Transfer the large cake on the serving platter. Let cool completely for another 30 mins.
To prepare the Cream cheese Carrot cake frosting:
- Beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, and icing sugar until smooth and well combined.
- Slice the cake in half from the center.**
- Add a generous amount of frosting on top of the bottom layer and then top with the remaining half of the cake.
- Spread the frosting on top and all around on the sides of the cake.
- Sprinkle the reserved chopped walnuts. Serve Beautifully!
- *I made one large 8” cake and one small 6” cake. Thapplesaucecake takes much less time and was baked within 30 mins.
- ** you can also use two 8” cake pans to make two separate single layer cakes and then stack them to make the 2-layer cake.
Is carrot cake healthy?
I find myself at a loss to answer this question. With the cream cheese frosting, this carrot cake recipe has sugar, it has butter, it has oil, it has cream cheese, and wholewheat flour. But this recipe is healthier because:
- This carrot cake is made with 100% whole wheat flour and not refined white flour.
- The sweetness is balanced between sugars and the natural sweetness of carrots and apple.
- The recipe is with organic unprocessed brown sugar and not white (except in frosting)
Each slice of this carrot cake with cream cheese frosting has 252 calories [25g carbohydrates, 16g fats, and 4g proteins]. Without the frosting, this carrot cake is a delicious snack and also a breakfast treat but with the frosting, it surely is a star dessert recipe.
Replacing white flour with whole wheat flour in baking is a great way of making healthier baked recipes. Whole wheat flour retains the fiber and nutrition of wheat along with its husk while white flour is made by stripping the wheat of its outer skin. I have now completely stopped using white all-purpose flour (maida) and use only whole wheat flour (atta) for all recipes. For more baking recipes with wholewheat flour check out:
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