I still remember the first time I hesitantly tried a bite of carrot cake after my husband and I first started dating. I had never tasted it before, but it was his favorite cake. Somewhat bracing myself to not enjoy it (I mean, cake full of carrots?), I took the bite. But whoa, it wasn’t half bad at all!
A few years later we were celebrating at a sweet friend’s wedding and tried a piece of the groom’s cake – which was an absolutely beautiful carrot cake made by the groom’s mom!
It. Was. Delicious. We truly loved it. So much so, that we longingly talked about it any time we tried any other carrot cake in the years to come.
I tried a few different recipes on my own, but they never quite lived up. So, I reached out to my friend to see if she had her mother in law’s recipe, and she did! And she so generously shared! [Thank you, Sarah!]
Even if you aren’t normally a “carrot cake person”, you will love this cake. It’s surprisingly easy to make and the flavors are just perfect. As my 3 year old was eating this last week for my husband’s birthday, all she could say was “Mmmm. Mmm. Mmmm.”
The foundation for this cake is the carrots. The more finely grated the carrots, the better the cake sponge will be. If you were to purchase pre-shredded carrots and use those in a cake, they would likely sink to the bottom of the sponge. And the cake texture wouldn’t be nearly as light. So, instead, grab a bag of carrots, peel a few, and get stared grating, making sure to use the smallest size grater you have.
Next, chop up some pecans so they are ready to mix in when the batter is prepared. You can also go ahead and prepare your pans now. For all of my tips on this [& so many other things related to cake baking] check out this post! For this cake I used three 8” round cake pans.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate large mixing bowl, beat the eggs into the sugar one at a time. Add in the sifted dry ingredients and mix until combined, scraping the edges and bottom of the bowl as needed. Slowly mix in the vegetable oil and beat until well combined.
Lastly, mix in the pecans and carrots. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
While the cakes cool, this is the perfect time to mix up the cream cheese icing! In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and cream cheese until smooth. Then gradually mix in about half of the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and continue mixing in powdered sugar until all ingredients are combined.
Now that you have cake and icing, it’s time to put the cake together! To see all of my how-to for that, visit this post from earlier this year.
The flavors and textures here are just perfect. The cake is light; the pecans add a nice crunch; the cinnamon creates just the right amount of spice; the cream cheese compliments everything beautifully. If you are going to try a carrot cake, try this one! As far as carrot cake goes, it’s pretty perfect.
I’ll leave you with my friend Daniel’s thoughts last week after he cautiously picked up a slice of cake to try… “If all carrot cake was this good, I’d probably like carrot cake!”
I hope you all truly enjoy this recipe and use it for years to come. Make some birthday memories, share with a friend, brighten someone’s day, let someone know you care. Cake has a way of making people smile. 🙂
The perfect carrot cake!
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Total Time: 55 min
- 2 1⁄2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1⁄2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 cup pecans chopped
- 3 cups carrots finely grated
- Grate carrots with a very fine grater and chop pecans.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees & prepare three 8 or 9” pans by greasing, lining with parchment, and lightly flouring.
- In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
- In large mixing bowl, beat eggs into sugar one at a time.
- Add in the sifted dry ingredients to the large bowl and mix until combined, scraping edges and bottom of bowl as needed.
- Slowly mix in vegetable oil and beat until combined.
- Mix in pecans and carrots.
- Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
- Let cakes cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely.
- Frost with cream cheese buttercream & enjoy!
Cream Cheese Buttercream
Prep Time: 15 min
Total Time: 15 min
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 16 ounces cream cheese softened
- 4 teaspoons vanilla
- 14 cups powdered sugar
- *This is a big recipe, but it is easily halved. Depending on the size of your mixing bowl, you can make half of the recipe at a time. If you have any icing remaining after frosting the cake, you can freeze the leftovers!
- In large mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and cream cheese until smooth.
- Gradually mix in about half of the powdered sugar.
- Add the vanilla. Continue mixing in powdered sugar until all ingredients are combined or icing is the desired consistency.