My all time favourite Carrot Cake recipe - loaded with grated carrot, crushed pineapple, crunchy walnuts and smothered in cream cheese frosting, this will become your favourite carrot cake recipe too!
Hands up if you love carrot cake?! Carrot cake seems to be synonymous with Easter and spring, but there's just one problem with that. Down under it's autumn! And while I can make up the connection with carrot cake and Easter (Easter bunnies eat carrots I guess?) the spring thing has me thrown. If you ask me, carrot cake with all the cosy warm spicy flavours just screams autumn to me, which actually works out much better!
Even if you have a tried and true carrot cake recipe, which most people do, I really think you should try this one. I had a carrot cake recipe and it was pretty good. But it wasn't perfect. So obviously, I wasn't satisfied. And because I decided that I really needed to have my recipe perfected by Easter, I've done all the trial and error for you and eaten waaaay too much carrot cake in the last few weeks. But is there such a thing?
The first one I made was too dry. The second was waaaay too dense and...wet. The third one is this one and it's perfect. It was a real Goldilocks & the Three Bears cake testing situation!
The thing about carrot cake is that it needs to be moist (sorry!) and packed full of flavour. Dry carrot cake is not something I'm interested in and neither is a cake that is a bit boring. This cake delivers on both counts. It is super moist thanks to the combination of brown sugar, yoghurt, oil and eggs and the crushed pineapple! If you don't usually add pineapple to your carrot cake, please try it! And I really went to town with the spices. I didn't want this to be just any old carrot cake, we are talking maximum flavour and cosy spiciness. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and ground cloves and plenty of them.
I added just the right amount of flour to set the cake without making it too dry, a bit of both baking powder and baking soda to get just enough rise and salt to enhance the flavours. The final ingredient and obviously the most important - 2 whole cups of freshly grated carrots. You want about 2 medium/large carrots to get this much. Oh and of course I added chopped walnuts for a bit of crunch.
The cream cheese frosting is silky smooth and has the perfect ratio of cream cheese to other ingredients so that it actually tastes like cream cheese! I hate it when something claims to be cream cheese frosting and you wouldn't even know it was an ingredient. There's also a little bit of lemon juice, a touch of salt and vanilla extract to ramp up the flavour and balance out the sweetness.
This does make a pretty large cake so I like to bake it in an 8" (20cm) cake tin and split the cake in half to make 2 layers - this way you get twice the frosting on the cake! And who doesn't love a layer cake...they look so fancy! But by all means leave it as a single layer cake if you prefer. You can also bake it in a larger tin to give you a thinner cake, just keep an eye on the baking time - you won't need to bake it quite so long (see notes in the recipe).
Side note, if you want to split it and you make layer cakes often, I would highly recommend investing in a cake leveller. I only recently purchased one and I can't believe how amazing they are. I used to get so frustrated with using a knife and always cutting the cake crooked. It doesn't matter for something like this as the more rustic the better, but for some cakes, it makes them look so much neater. They are less than $10, so they don't break the bank either.
Once you've made and iced the cake, put it in the fridge to allow the frosting to set for around 30 minutes before slicing. This will make it easier to slice and will keep them looking neat. I would also recommend making the cake the day before you need it. I think it actually improves overnight - it gives all the flavours time to mingle and get even more delicious!
Store any leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 5 days, but I bet it won't last that long!
Made this? Tag me on Instagram @thekiwicountrygirl and hashtag it #thekiwicountrygirl.
My Favourite Carrot Cake Recipe
- 2 cups (280g) flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp each ground ginger, cloves and nutmeg
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup (200g) brown sugar
- ½ cup (110g) white sugar
- 1 cup oil (canola, vegetable, coconut etc)
- 3 large eggs
- ¼ cup plain unsweetened Greek yoghurt (or plain yoghurt)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups grated carrot (about 2 medium/large carrots)
- ¾ cup crushed pineapple (from a can, with most of the juice drained and discarded)
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 250 g block of cream cheese, room temperature
- 115 g butter, room temperature
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp salt
- Remove the cream cheese and the butter for the frosting from the fridge and set on the bench to come to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and line the bottom of an 20cm/8" round cake tin and spray the tin with non-stick cooking spray. (see note 1 for using a bigger tin)
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk the sugars, oil, eggs, yoghurt and vanilla in a medium sized mixing bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the grated carrots, pineapple and walnuts.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 50-60 minutes, keeping an eye on it after 45 minutes as cooking times can vary. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. I often let it cool for around 30 minutes and then put it in the fridge to speed up the process.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a large bowl using a stand or hand held mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter on high speed until smooth and creamy. Sift in the icing sugar and add the lemon juice, vanilla and salt and mix on low speed until combined and then on high speed for 2 minutes. If the frosting is too runny for you, either put it in the fridge for 30 minutes before icing the cake or add another ¼ cup of icing sugar.
- Slice the cooled cake in half horizontally using a large knife or cake leveller and place the bottom half of the cake on the serving plate. Spoon half of the frosting on top, and spread it right to the edges. Stack the top half of the cake on top and spread the rest of the frosting over. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
- Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. The frosting will set and it will make it easier to slice.
- If you have made the cake the day before (recommended for maximum flavour) remove the cake from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving to allow it to come back to room temperature.
- Store the cake covered in the fridge for 5 days.