Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

“This is the best cake I’ve ever eaten!” was the reaction from my husband Graham to my latest creation. He has tasted many cakes during our 21 years together, so I pay attention when he makes a proclamation like this. I have to agree, this carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is a winner! The recipe comes from Carole Bloom’s book The Essential BakerHow to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François. I’ve made some minor changes to the recipe but for the most part it is hers. Too often carrot cake seems like a throw back to the 70s, when they were dense and tasted ultimately too good for you. This carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is moist, sweet and has a complex combination of spices that all seem to come through. The cream cheese icing is bright and creamy. I added a bit of orange and lemon zest to the icing to bring out those flavors in the cake. I think it is an addition that is key to the success of this cake!

Pretty soon I will be harvesting carrots from my very own backyard urban farm, until then I used really nice sweet organic carrots from my co-op, which probably added something to the flavor. Carolyn, whose birthday inspired me to try this recipe, is in the camp of people who don’t like nuts in their carrot cake so I replaced them with shredded coconut. The raisins that Bloom suggests in the recipe were traded for dried cherries to tie in with the marzipan cherries that would adorn the top. Otherwise I followed this recipe from The Essential Baker.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 pound coarsely grated carrots (I actually made mine finely grated, as you will see below.)

4 extra large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cup canola oil

2/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla

Finely grated zest of 1 large orange

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmegs

1 1/4 cups toasted walnuts (I used shredded coconut instead, which was one of the options Bloom suggested as well)

1 cup raisins (I substituted chopped dried cherries)

Cream Cheese Frosting from Essential Baker: (I doubled this recipe to make sure I would have enough. Now I spread the leftovers on EVERYTHING!)

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons pure vanilla

1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)

2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 teaspoons orange zest

2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Mix all ingredients together

Prepare muffin tins with papers (about 60 mini or 48 regular cupcakes) or two 9″ cake pans with parchment and oil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

I coarsely grated the carrots in a food processor using the grater attachment.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

I then chopped them into finer pieces with the medal blade attachment in the food processor so that the texture of the cake would be a little bit finer.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

Mix together the eggs, sugar, oil, brown sugar, vanilla extract and orange zest. Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Add the finely chopped carrots, coconut, and dried cherries.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

Pour the batter into the prepared pans or scoop into cupcake papers (fill 3/4 full).

Bake cupcakes for about 18-25 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.

Bake 9″ cakes for about 35-40 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

To assemble the cake. Remove from pan and peel off the parchment paper from the bottom, place on a cardboard round. Put the cake on a cake turn table.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

With a Wüsthof Superslicer or other thin serrated knife slice off the very top of the cake. Do this by using a sawing motion.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

Then cut the cake in 2 or 3 equal layers. Slide the layers onto a cardboard round or any other flat surface. The false bottom of a tart pan works perfectly.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

Put about 1 1/2 cups of the cream cheese icing.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

Using an offset spatula spread the frosting evenly over the surface of the first layer. Repeat for the rest of the layers.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

Place about 2 cups of the icing on the top of the cake and spread evenly.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

Spread the icing onto the sides of the cake.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

Lift the cake off the turn table and place on the serving platter.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

Using the spatula spread the frosting and create swirls on the cake. This cream cheese frosting is very soft so you won’t want to try for anything too exacting.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

I pressed coconut onto the sides and the top to finish this carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

Here are the mini cupcakes I made for Carolyn’s birthday. I got these great cupcake papers from Sweet Celebrations.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

Here they are adorned with marzipan cherries.

How to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting | photo by Zoë François

Can’t get enough? I’ve got a lot more cake recipes where this one came from.

194 thoughts to “Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. Hi Zoe! I have been reading your site for over almost an hour now…beautiful! I am a relativel new convert to carrot cake (we eat more Operas then carrot cake where I come from) but I am loving the multitude of interpretations out there. Gorgeous!

  2. I have been pining for a carrot cake, or carrot muffins, or cupcakes…What an amazing cake. It’s gorgeous! It could just end up as cupcakes at my house. I’ll let you know! Oh, and I think I found you at Wild Yeast…yes?

  3. Hi Zoe,

    The cake looks great! Just curious, was the original frosting recipe enough or would you double it again? Thanks, Jane

  4. Hi Jane,

    Yes, I am addicted to the cream cheese frosting! I put it on toast and slathered it on cinnamon rolls that I made out of the brioche dough from Artisan Bread in Five.

    Enjoy! Zoë

  5. Hey Zoe, as always, I enjoy your posts. I’ve faithfully read all your posts via RSS and I noticed that you have been using Carole Bloom’s book, The Essential Baker, quite frequently. What is your consensus on this book? Is it worth the 35 or 45 bucks?

  6. Hi Amanda,

    I do like this book. I am having a difficult time following the recipes to the absolute letter, but that is always an issue for me. I usually look at a recipe for inspiration and not the final word! I think the book is really well written and the recipes incredibly easy to follow.

    I’ve made nearly a dozen things from it and they have all come out well and in some cases I will replace my old faithful for one of these.

    So in the end I do think it is worth it!

    Enjoy, Zoë

  7. i’m enjoying your generous layers of icing because for me, carrot cake is a vehicle for cream cheese icing. i tasty vehicle, mind you, but a vehicle nonetheless. 🙂

  8. Hi Grace,

    I find myself actually dipping a spoon into the leftovers. This icing would be fantastic on devil’s food cake as well, but the spoon works too! 😉


  9. I found your site through your ‘Artisan Bread’ site. Just got my ‘Artisan’ book and am so excited about trying all the recipes on it. I have ordered them from the Amazon USA because they are not available yet in any bookshop in the UK. I waited for a couple of weeks though. You guys should come and a do a book tour in the UK. It would be a big hit! Been reading your posts for almost an hour now and have thoroughly enjoyed them. I must say that this carrot cake looks so yummy. Have to try it this weekend. I love carrot cake! Lovely pictures by the way.

  10. Hi ESmith,

    I am so thrilled that you will be trying out the bread from our book. Please let me know how it goes and let me know if you have any questions.

    We would love nothing more than to come to the UK to do a book tour! In fact I will suggest it to our publisher. Stranger things have happened!

    This carrot cake really is wonderful.



  11. First off~ your site is absolutely beautiful Love it. I clicked through Tastespotting cause I saw the carrot cake. This looks fabulous! I think I prefer this recipe to the Dorie Greenspan one. I really like the idea of using orange zest as well as lemon in the frosting~ YUM!

  12. Hey Tempered Woman,

    Thanks for stopping by. I do love this recipe. I’ll have to make Dorie’s and do a comparison of the two. Just an excuse to have another cake in the house!



  13. I am so excited!! Yipee!!
    Our /50 and older husbands play hockey on Sunday afternoons and after their quite (childish) squabble and play and Bull Corn about who played the best. We settle down on the truck beds, or lawn chairs or practically anywhere to tail gate after their hockey. We drink a few cool ones and cook something on the grill. We usually each bring something different. Some make their own burgers. We marinate really hot HOT links and other things and bring all of our concoctions together and share all of it.

    This cake will just take
    the FINAL STAGE!!

    Thank you so much!!
    I work for Southwest Airlines so I will share the recipe with all of my friends-if you
    don’t mind??

    Patricia Cottle
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
    Thank You Zoe!!!
    We love you!!

    1. Great recipe! I upped the spices a bit to add more kick, then threw in some rum soaked raisins! Delicious!

  14. Hi Patricia,

    Sounds like a lot of fun. I hope all of your friends enjoy the cake, both behind the truck and in the air.

    Thank you so much! Zoë

  15. Because of this cake I am now considered the expert baker at church. This is quit a compliment considering that I not only am the youngest baker at the church by 30 years, but I also just started baking cakes four months ago. That should be enough to tell you how amazing this cake recipe is. Thank you Zoe!

  16. Beautiful cake. I am going to make it for my girlfriend’s birthday tomorrow.

    You said you doubled the cream cheese recipe. Is the cream cheese recipe on this site the original or the doubled one?

  17. Hi Burepe,

    This was a single recipe. It will cover the cake, but I LOVE the frosting and wanted a thicker layer than she called for.

    Happy Birthday to your friend and enjoy the cake!


  18. Hi Zoe,

    I’m delighted that you’re having so much fun and delicious success with the recipes from my book, The Essential Baker! I have a new book, Bite-Size Desserts, that will be out in early April next year. I hope you’ll enjoy that one too.


  19. Everything about this post is a pleasure! Those beautiful carrots, that amazing skip-the-cake-gimme-the-spoon frosting, the fact that your sweater cuff in the picture is NOT wearing more frosting than the cake itself. So well done! Thanks for sharing this recipe!!

  20. I forgot to mention along with my previous cake question that, alas, Sweet Celebrations (the source for those cute cupcake papers and all things wonderful having to do with pastry craft) has gone out of business after many years, as of 10/2008.

  21. Hi Beth,

    I know it is an awful loss for us locally! I will now have to find another source and order online. I used to drive right to the warehouse.

    Thanks, Zoë

  22. I am really looking forward to making this cake. I was a little confused when you said the recipe is for 2 9″ pans. The cake shows three layers. Does the recipe make 2 cakes or does the one cake have 4 layers and my vision is bad. Also, have you been able to find out about high altitude. I live in Colorado Springs.

  23. Hi Areta,

    I can’t believe you are the first to call me on this! I used an 8″ x 3″ cake pan, which is taller than most pans and will yield about the same as the 2 9-inch pans I called for. You can use either. I assume most people don’t have these deeper pans, but if you do they work wonderfully. You may just have to bake the cake for slightly longer.

    Sorry if that was confusing!

    Enjoy the cake, it is fantastic!


  24. Zoe, I guessed by the photo that you used the 8 X 3 inch pan to make this cake with 3 layers. I tried it by increasing the baking time but the center didn’t get done. Please let me know how your altered the time and/or temp. Thanks!

  25. Thank you Mercina!

    Hi Jeanean,

    I’m sorry your cake didn’t bake all the way through! When you switch to using one, super high sided cake pan you sometimes need to give as much as an extra 50% to the baking time. This cake in a 8-inch x 3-inch pan can take 50-60 minutes to bake. The absolute test is to stick a skewer through the middle and it should come out clean or with dry crumbs, nothing wet!

    One other thing to test is your oven temperature. Make sure you bake with an oven thermometer.

    It really is worth trying again! I love this cake!!

    Thanks, Zoë

  26. Hello Zoe

    I just baked a similar cake but I added crushed pineapple as well, the rest is the same, and baked the cake in a 10 inch trays (made two cakes in the same pan)
    I am using the same frosting as well. Have you ever tried to make a rose from this frosting do you think it will work like the ganache…
    the cake is for my motherin law 70s birthday.. I will take some pictures if i remember before they cut it.

  27. Hi Arlette,

    I’m afraid this icing is too soft to pipe. There just isn’t enough structure to keep the shape of a rose. You can make a buttercream icing for the roses that will match in color to the cream cheese icing.

    Happy Birthday to your MIL! Please do take pictures!


    So glad you are enjoying the book! 🙂

  28. Hi Zoe

    Did you use tart dried cherries or sweet dried cherries. Also if using 2 9×2 inch cake pans do I still need to cut the cake layers in half. When you say to use parchment and oil to grease the pans do you mean solid vegetable shortening or regular vegetable oil. Because I’ve never use vegetable oil to grease cake pans.

  29. Hi Jackie,

    If you use 2 9×2 pans you will not need to cut them in half.

    I use regular vegetable oil, but shortening will work beautifully as well! The spray is great too.

    Enjoy! Zoë

  30. Hi Jackie,

    Oooops, I forgot to answer this the first time you asked! 😉 I used tart ones, but really I think either will do nicely!

    Cheers, Zoë

  31. Tried this cake a second time again for a dear friend’s B’day who loves carrots & she loved it!!

    Of all the 4 carrot cake recipes ‘ve tried so far, this has the best flavor & pleasant afternotes. Thanks Zoe,for sharing it.

  32. If anyone in the Twin Cities area is too lazy to make this cake, Cupcake makes a pretty mean carrot cupcake. With a mass quantity of very good cream cheese icing.

  33. This is so ironic… I have been looking for the “ultimate carrot cake recipe” googled, and came right back to your page!! I love this website…

    I will try to make this – this week… I’m not a shredded coconut fan.. any creative substitutions? It looks so pretty on the frosting.

  34. Hi Laura,

    I adore this recipe and hope you will love it as well.

    If you are looking for a way to decorate without the coconut you could toast some chopped nuts and press them into the sides of the cake. You could also leave the sides very simple and just do some decorative piping on the top.

    It might also be cool to do a very smooth icing and make a stencil and dust a combination of powdered sugar and cinnamon over it.

    Let me know how you like it!

    Thanks, Zoë

  35. Thank you Zoe!

    And please… run out and buy that Big Green Egg right now! I know people bake on them – but I’ve never tried since I suffer from bake-a-phobia! 🙂

    May I post this recipe and photos on my blog with all the appropriate credits and links? I’m dying to try and post this recipe but want to follow your instructions to the letter since I am not an experienced baker.

    BTW.. ordered your book on Amazon yesterday – can’t wait to read it!

  36. Hi Laura,

    I can’t wait to see your version of this carrot cake! let me know when you have it up on your blog.

    Thanks for giving the book a try.

    Thanks, Zoë

  37. Hello Zoe, I am goin to attempt to make this carrot cake for my boyfriends bday…i have never baked a cake from scratch…can I ommit the raisins and add a lil more nuts or will the cake fall or something?? Please help:)

  38. Hi Jessica,

    By all means take out the raisins and replace them with whatever he likes. You don’t even need to replace them, just bake without if you think he’d prefer it.

    Happy Birthday to him and have fun baking!


  39. The cake looks luscious and tempting. I will make this for my husband when he returns from the Middle East. He loves carrot cake. Thank you very much.

  40. Hi Zoe,
    I have been searching for carrot cake recipes to try out for my brothers wedding in July- I offered to make the cake back last year and have to say stressing a little now the date is getting nearer.
    Your recipe was the first I tried- no need to try any others- “fantastic” was the consensus of family and work colleagues who got to taste it. The only problem I found was that it sunk in the middle. I too used the 8″x 3″ pan. Cooked for 1 1/2 hrs which seemed alot longer than anticipated. Was concerned that outer edges of cake would dry or even burn so decided to take it out, however, was still a little raw in the middle. Wondered whether you could give me some advice on this- I would be most grateful.

    Kind Regards


  41. Hi Jo,

    For a wedding cake you may want to bake it in shallow pans to insure that it bakes through. I often bake mine in flat sheet pans and cut out the sizes that I need. There is more waste that way, but it gives me something to snack on. Or you can bake the layers in 2″ pans in the right dimensions of the cake layers. Here is a wedding cake data chart from wilton. I find their serving sizes a bit skimpy, but it is helpful anyway.

    As for the one you baked in the 3″ pan. Do you have an oven thermometer to make sure that your oven is at the right temperature? It sounds like it may be running a tad cool?

    Hope this helps!


  42. Maybe at last! I’m at google page 33 trying to replace my lost recipe of 30 years. Your site is beautiful and I think your recipe will be almost the same and the icing even better. Can’t wait for morning.

  43. I have been trying to make the perfect tender carrot cake and finally found your recipe a few weeks back. I made it tonight and it is very tasty. Thank you for sharing!!

  44. Hi Zoe,
    I contacted you a month ago re- advice with cooking times. Thank you for your reply. I have now perfected the 8, 10 and 12 inch cakes for my brothers wedding which is now in just under a weeks time! My only concern is how loose the cream cheese frosting is and wondered if you have any ideas for thickening this a little?
    Kind Regards

  45. Hi Jo,

    This icing is very sensitive to temperature. If the room is warm the icing may get loose and run. You can try making it with more cream cheese and/or butter. This will firm it up a bit, but it will still be soft if it is warm out. Or, you can add more confectioners sugar (a cup or so) to “dry” it out a bit, but this will effect the flavor.

    I’d play with it and let it see how it behaves. I’ve never used it for a wedding cake for this very reason. But, that is only because I have not played with it enough to be confident. It will be very tasty experiments! 😉


  46. I wish I stopped by here, two hours ago before I baked a carrot cake. It was great but I would have loved to have tried this. I hope, next time, we want carrot cake, I will remember this recipe.

    Don’t you love the little orange bits shining through the cake?

  47. I loved the cake recipe..guess what..i am running to store to get the carrots and stuff… This is the first time i have read ur site and I loved ur recipes. Thanks.

  48. I just made the carrot cupcakes on Sunday. They came out great! I’ve been craving carrot cake for the past few months and saw this recipe and knew I had to try it. I love how you have pictures for each step. It definitely helped out a lot. Thanks, Zoe! I’ll be trying the red velvet recipe next!

  49. Zoe,
    I love your book!!!Every recipe has turned out perfect!Could you use a 13×9 pan for the carrot cake recipe?

  50. Hi Elise,

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake and I hope you love the red velvet as well!

    Hi Hope,

    Thank you for trying the book, glad you are baking so much bread.

    You can bake the cake in a sheet pan, just check it after about 30 minutes.

    Thanks! Zoë

  51. I am looking for lavender colored cupcake liners as well as large muffin size foil liners…. got any ideas? I may just have to make them myself, cant find anywhere…thanks…Mercy

  52. I am making the carrot cake in the morning at the suggestion of my daughter Laura who has Lauras Best Recipes. My question: How long is the baking time for mini muffins the ones that are 1.75+- inches in diameter top measurement?

    Thank you,
    Peggy Merrill

  53. Hi Peggy,

    Thank you for trying the recipe, I think they will be amazing as little cupcakes! I’d start with about 12-15 minutes and test with a toothpick to see if they are done.

    Enjoy! Zoë

  54. Zoe – Thank you so much for mentioning my website. I am a small owner and would LOVE any and all business from these fabulous people posting on your blog. Mention Zoe until December 2009 for a 10% discount on my site!


  56. HI. Just wondering how many days ahead can this beautiful carrot cake be made? I would like to make it for a graduation.

  57. Hi Zoe! This looks fabulous and I’ll be making the cupcake version this weekend for a holiday gathering.

    I have 3 questions please:

    Is it one pound of grated carrots or one pound of carrots, then grate them?

    Did you use unsweetened coconut?

    You made mini cupcakes, are those the tiny ones or something in between regular and tiny?

    Thank you,

  58. Hi Diane,

    measure one pound of carrots (cut the ends off and peel first) then grate them.

    I used sweetened coconut.

    They are the tiny little muffin cups. I’m not sure if there is a size between the big and tiny? You have me curious to find out.

    Thanks and enjoy, Zoë

  59. Thanks so much! 🙂

    I’m not sure about the mini sizes either. When someone asked about cooking times for 1.75″ muffins, I started wondering if that was different than the ones you made.

  60. HI. Just wondering how many days ahead can this beautiful carrot cake be made? I would like to make it for a graduation.

  61. Hi Zoe,
    I love to bake. I make a pretty mean carrot cake myself. I am interested in making some adaptions to my regular recipe for a change. What I am interested in is the cake pan you actually baked the cake in the pictures. You say 2 9″ cake pans but that is not what your pictures or directions indicate. What size is that cake pan and at what temp and time would you bake? Thanks.

  62. Hi Cindi,

    The cake pans I am using are a 9×2″ and a 9×3″, but in the end it really doesn’t matter as long as they are both 9-inch pans and I fill them equally. I give the times for baking both for the 9-inch pans and for muffins. You can choose which to use. Hope that clears things up?

    Enjoy! Zoë

  63. Hi Angela,

    I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you, hope I didn’t miss the party! You can make the cake way ahead and freeze it, up to a month if you wrap it really well.

    Enjoy, Zoë

  64. Zoe, I do a lot of cooking and my wife does the baking. I thought I would cross over and make this for her. Question, the 2 9×2 cake pans would yield two layers of a three layer cake. do I use three pans or cut each layer in half yielding 4 layers discarding one of them?

    1. Hi Slefkovitz,

      How great that you are going to bake this for your wife. You can split the cakes in half or leave them as is. It kind of depends how much icing your want. I baked this in 3 8-inch pans and I apologize for the confusion in the photo. I assume most people have 9-inch pans so I adjusted the directions for that.

      Thanks and enjoy! Zoë


    1. Hi slefkovitz,

      No, they are two very different beasts and if a recipe calls for one, you can not sub the other. Cake flour has very little gluten and will make a light tender cake, but it won’t necessarily have enough structure to keep the cake from falling, unless it is written for that type of flour. Having said that, you can certainly experiment, but you may have to endure some failed attempts.

      Thanks, Zoë

  66. Great, I have all purpose flour on hand so it will be more convenient. Tomorrow is the day I will make the cake.I will let you know the outcome. I have also ordered your book.I have always cooked and have taken up artisan bread making for the last year. I think for me bread making was the bridge from cooking to baking. Thanks again.

  67. ok, I made the cake, it turned out great the flavor is fantastic. I had some problems with the layers wanting to slide as I iced it. I think if I put each layer in the frig for a bit to firm up then I could continue to build the layers or maybe I should have mixed the frosting longer so it would be firmer.I know one thing for sure,my wife loved it.

    1. Hi Slefkovitz,

      I’m thrilled that you tried it and I bet your wife was too! The icing can be very soft and it too may benefit from some time in the refrigerator. If you have time to refrigerate the cake and the icing it will certainly make it easier to work with.

      Thanks, Zoë

  68. Hi Zoë! I am going to make this gorgeous carrot cake for Easter, but I have two questions. First, the recipe calls for extra large eggs, but I only have large eggs. Should I crack into a fifth egg and use part of it? Or make some other adjustment?
    Second, will the taste or texture suffer if I make the cake the day before and refrigerate it? I don’t want it to dry out.
    THANK YOU for the recipe! Can’t wait to try it! 🙂

    1. Hi Kimberly,

      Your cake will not suffer a bit from being made the day before, just wrap it very well!

      You know how some batches of large eggs seem huge and some seem tiny? If your eggs seem to be on the larger side of “large” then don’t add an extra one, but if they seem like a rather small batch go ahead and throw another one in the mix.

      Enjoy! Zoë

  69. Thanks for the reply, Zoë! Makes perfect sense about the eggs. One thing…when you say wrap the cake well, would a zip-top bag work? I’m relatively new to cakes, sorry! Thanks again. 🙂

  70. Zoë – this cake is WONDERFUL! It turned out beautifully and wasn’t difficult to make. Everyone loved it…I even caught my father-in-law stealing crumbs from the cake platter. Thanks again 🙂

  71. Dear Chef Zoe,

    This recipe looks amazing! But the problem is I have friends who don’t like anything doing with coconut but are okay with carrots and love cream cheese, so is there a way I could substitute the coconut strips with something else that won’t make the flavor clash?

    Please reply,
    Trang B.

    P.S. I found your website on Google, so when I tried commenting it wont let me. So if this is the second comment you receive from me, I’m terribly sorry and don’t mean to spam >x<

  72. Hi Zoe! This cake looks super delicious! I will try to bake one this week. Did you use fresh coconuts or the dried ones in packs. I don’t know if I can get freshly grated coconuts where I live. Thanks! Keep up the great recipes!

  73. i made this carrot recipe it was amazing, the best i ever made but my walnuts turned black from the baking process and i’m just curious why. It never happened to me before in any other recipe.

  74. Oh my gosh Zoe, this cake is beautiful. Hubby and i just dined out and had an incredible carrot cake with a caramel, buttery, pecan filling . . . would you know how to create this filling? In the meantime, I am definitely, positively, absolutely baking this cake. Many thanks and I’m so glad to have following you. Roz

  75. Hi, I was wondering do you put all of your batter in one 9″ pan or does it just look like that? Your cake looks really tall and it looks like you cut it in 3 pieces? thanks, I’m going to try this it looks yummy

    1. Hi Cindy,

      I have very tall pans that can bake all the batter at once, but I’ve written the recipe in this post for two 9-inch pans. If you want more layers you can bake it in three 8-inch pans.

      Enjoy! Zoë

  76. I found your site through Pioneer Women. I purchased Ree’s cookbook recently and went on the internet to the site. This is where you come into the picture. I will be trying your Carrot Cake. We have a lady in church that thinks she has the “ultimate” recipe. No-way! I am starting up a cooking class called- Adventures in Cooking with Carolyn.
    Hope to just offer basic down home cooking to young girls and also to those seasoned cooks. I have been attending online classes with a Chef from North Carolina and also a class from a Personal Chef School in Seattle,Washington. I am a busy person. Have been cooking all my life, and was raised on a stock ranch in Oregon. I can relate to those, “Pioneer Women”. Thanks for your site and I will be returning soon.
    God Bless and happy cooking/baking
    Carolyn Bertram

  77. Thanks soooo much for this recipe, i gave it a little bit of my love by adding some chilli to the frosting, and using vanilla oil mixed with a little bit of pumpkin oil. BEST CAKE me and my friends have ever had!
    Cheers :))

  78. Hi Zoe,
    Thanks so much for this tasteful recipe. I have never baked a carrot cake before. This was my first. I tried it just once (I also doubled the measurement) and it came out great. I made it for my little girl’s first birthday last month. Everyone loved it. The only ingredient I didn’t use was raisins (not a big fan). At the moment, I’m baking it again just for fun. Thanks a lot.
    Angel from Finland

  79. I made these as cupcakes-all 35 of them, for 9 people, and I have 5 left. They are divine-the frosting is ridiculous, I caught my mother eating it with a spoon-love love love-thank you!

  80. Hi Zoe..I started my home-based cake shop with a bare carrot cake and the recipe I just found from an old book..2 years later it’s always been my bestseller..tried many variations and still taste great!!..Lately instead of walnuts I tried roasted Pili nuts since walnut is quite expensive here in the Philippines..and I say it’s a must-try!!!My husband gave your link 2hrs ago and I’m enjoying it!..Your tips are very helpful!!..Happy caking!!

  81. Hi,Zoe,
    The carrot cake looks delicious and want to try and bake it soon, but notice that there’s no beating of the sugar,oil,eggs ingredients.
    Just mix the ingredients is tht it?
    Please advise cant wait to try.

    1. Hi Kelly,

      Yep, just mix them together! I don’t think beating will hurt this recipe at all, but it just isn’t necessary.

      Thanks, Zoë

  82. Hi Zoe!
    I just wanted to let you know that I was in absolute awe the first time I came across this page. So much so that I had one of my close friends make this cake for mine and my husbands wedding last year. It was an absolute hit!! It was so unbelievably moist and there was so much flavor. And the cream cheese frosting!!! I could sit and eat a bowl of it!! I plan on making this very soon. This is my favorite cake recipe!!!!


  83. I’m curious what kind/size of cake pan you used for this cake…did you have extra batter, or did you scale it down for this cake pan? It looks very deep but small in the pictures. Actually, I think I HAVE to get a small pan to make “4-person” serving cakes….I usually end up eating most of the cakes I make and having very little in the way of leftovers sitting around would be good for my waist, lol.

  84. Zoe, I just read further up the comments and see you actually used 3-8″ pans…you can disregard my previous comment I’d just submitted!

  85. Hello Zoe,

    Please forgive me, but I am not an expert baker. Sometimes, I need directions to be very clearly stated. I could always guess, but I could guess wrong, and mess everything up. So, in a effort to NOT mess things up, it would GREATLY help me if you would please explain what you mean when you say to “Prepare…two 9″ cake pans with parchment and oil.” Prepare, HOW? Do I line the inside of the sides of the pans with oil? Or do I do so on top of the parchment paper, on the bottom of the pan? Again, please excuse my ignorance, but I don’t bake every day. I just started.

    Also, when you said–in regards to the Cream Cheese Frosting from Essential Baker–, “I doubled this recipe to make sure I would have enough. Now I spread the leftovers on EVERYTHING!”, were the amounts you listed, the amounts listed in the book, or the amounts AFTER you had doubled them?

    Thank you so much for your time, and your help.


    1. Hi Tim,

      Great question, to prepare the pans means you coat them in the oil, then place the parchment in the pan and you can coat the paper with a bit of oil too.

      You will want to double the cream cheese icing recipe I have written out.

      Thanks and enjoy! Zoë

  86. Hi Zoe,

    I love carrot cake and I baked mine without the raisins because my sons don’t like them. I got an order for a carrot wedding cake and I wonder if I can put fondant over the cream cheese frosting? Can I do that? Will it work? The humidity here (I’m in Malaysia) is quite ridiculous sometimes and I am afraid that the cake won’t keep for long. Any advice? Thanks.

    Need help,

    1. Hi Sue,

      The issue with the cream cheese icing is that it needs to be refrigerated to stay nice and solid. This may not work as well with your fondant. When you refrigerate fondant it will sweat, especially if it is hot and humid. What if you were to put the cream cheese icing between the layers of cake, but frosted the outside with something that was a bit more durable, then covered that with the fondant?

      Hope that helps! Zoë

  87. its 1 in the morning and i’m making your carrot cake recipe for a friends dinner party… it’s AMAZING!!! the batter is JUST soo nice… added a splash of butter milk, and didnt have brown sugar, but the rest, especially the spices are making my house smell of carrot!!! thank you again

  88. I have spent embarrassing amount of time…read HOURS researching the definitive carrot cake …Yours wins…not at all the heavy bomb I see elsewhere…finally an elegant carrot cake with the most incredible cream cheese frosting…I cannot wait to attempt your creation this week…

    One caveat…I live in France and the only coconut I can find here is the grated unsweetened variety…Is there a method for rendering it soft and sweet (as one finds easily in the U.S.?)…If not, should I simply leave it out and add more carrots or pineapple? I’m quite perplexed but eager to try out your truly “ultimate” culinary creation!

    1. Hi Donna,

      The real difference is that the coconut is sweet and softer. I bet you can soak the dry version with simple syrup and reconstitute the coconut. You could even try flavoring the simple syrup with vanilla bean. I would just toss the dry coconut with a little simple syrup, to coat it and leave it in a plastic bag overnight. You don’t want it dripping wet, but enough to soften it.

      I’ll give this a try too and see how it goes. Thanks for the idea! Zoë

  89. Hello Zoë…Thanks ever-so-much for the rapid reply!…I am going to use the simple syrup technique you suggest (any suggestion for ratio water/sugar?)…and roll up my sleeves to attempt your creation! ..But first..a run to the store to buy the brown sugar. I noticed the recipe did not call for a certain type…Did you use light brown sugar..or muscavado or a raw “cassonade” type sugar? One of the most attractive features of your cake is it’s lighter colour, and I do not wish to mess with perfection..

    (Will also scout out small diameter pans with tall sides…If I cannot locate straight-sided ones, could I use 8″ springform pans instead?)

    My apologies for all of the questions…but I want to do your cake proud as they say!..Thank you for your exquisite recipes and blog..a true gift for us wanna-be pastry chefs/baker bums!

  90. AMAZING!!! Wow, what a great recipe! It’s the best carrot cake & icing I’ve ever made…Thanks!
    I did a test run today, it being a new recipe for me, the big day will be my friend John’s 70th birthday next month. He’s kind of a picky, cranky old man and is very particular about his food. I have no doubts this cake will win him over!
    Thanks again.

  91. Zoe ~

    I am going to be practicing with this recipe very soon, for a wedding I have coming up in March. The bride wants carrot cake for her 16″ square bottom tier in a 5 tier cake! I plan on using the Bakery Craft plastic plates and columns of the SPS system – are you familiar with that? I am hoping that by using this system, there will not be the weight resting on the carrot cake and so it should be fine? LOL Anyway, my actual question for you is this: Do you think I can sub unsweetened applesauce for the oil in this recipe or will it affect the outcome too much? 🙂 I am very much looking forward to tasting this cake! 😀



    1. Hi Sandra,

      It will probably work to substitute the applesauce, but you may want to try it both ways and see how you like it best. There may be a happy medium; replace some of the oil, but not all.

      The columns should keep the weight off the bottom tier. You will need to use that kind of system all the way up the cake. 5 tiers is a big cake, with lots of weight.

      Have fun! Zoë

  92. Hi, Zoe! Can I add pineapple to this recipe? And, if so, how much? A bride wanted carrot cake for her wedding, but wanted a recipe with pineapple. Thanks so much for your wonderful recipes.

  93. Hello again! I am going to make this cake into cupcakes for a Sunny Glen’s children’s home for their birthdays they are celebrating this month. I am all prepared but then I saw that you mentioned that this icing is “soft” and does not work well for piping. I thought because I saw it on your mini cupcakes that it would work. What would you recommend me doing instead? I saw your carrot cake cupcake recipe but I am using your “ultimate” carrot cake for the cupcakes. Does the icing on that other recipe you posted taste just as good as this one? The ingredients are pretty much the same if I remember correctly.


    1. Hi Danette,

      What a great project. This icing works well for simple piping, like I have done here, but not for piping intricate roses or other flowers.

      Thanks! Zoë

  94. Wonderful! I will let you know how it turns out. I am just doing a simple swirl with a large star tip. Thanks for the prompt response.


  95. Haven’t made the icing yet but I have to say that these carrot cupcakes are great! Only problem, I was supposed to make 48 of them and I have only come up with 2 1/2 dozen. Will make more tomorrow but not sure what happened. I only filled my cupcake liners up 1/2 instead of 3/4. So good though! Can’t wait to try the frosting.

    1. Hi Kristin,

      Sorry to have missed your question before you baked the cake, I hope it came out well. You can use either coconut in the cake, but to decorate the outside I use the sweetened.

      Cheers, Zoë

  96. Great recipe! It came out really well. My only request is to offer text only print outs of your recipes to cut down on paper – this one prints on 14 pages! Thank you!

  97. if i bake ahead and freeze , does it matter if i freeze the cake iced or should it be frozen uniced. for how long does it freeze, do you know. thanks

    1. Hi Anne,

      You can freeze it either way, but it will look better if you just freeze the cake layers and frost it before serving.

      Thanks, Zoë

  98. Hi
    What interesting reading. I liked the superslicer, will look into getting one of those.
    Now, I have to make a 12″ Carrot Cake, and also a 6″ for a Wedding top tier, how do I work out ingredients for those as I notice that your recipe is for 2 x 9″ pans?

      1. Hi Zoe, thank you very much for your prompt reply. I am printing out the chart as I write this.
        Great web site, loads of helpful advice from you and other bakers.


  99. ZOE…thank you,cannot believe what i just tasted. May the food fairy bless you, thats a fantastic cake recipe. i dint do the frosting just added lemon juice n icing sugar as that is all i had right now but what a cake..

  100. I was looking for a Carrot Cake to wow my dad. I found your site first thing and realized that you wrote that great bread book I love so much. I am a busy mom of three I had a house full of company last weekend and your bread was a hit once again!! THANK YOU very much. God Bless you!

  101. Thank you for this recipe! Can’t wait to try it! Dumb question (I’m not much of a baker!)…can I make this in 3 8-inch pans (2 inch deep)

    1. Hi Christy,

      Yes, that will work for sure, but you will need to adjust the baking time, since it will bake much faster. I would check them at about 25 minutes.

      If you leave the cake out, just be sure it is in a cool spot, so the icing doesn’t get too warm and runny. It will taste great at room temperature.

      Thanks, Zoë

  102. Oh! One more question! I’m asking for taste, not for safety. Can I frost this this 24 hours before the event and leave on the counter? Will it taste just as good with warm frosting as cold?

  103. Hi Zoe, just stumbled across your blog and it’s great! This looks like a lovely recipe and I’ve enjoyed reading all the comments. I too am crazy enough to have agreed to make a wedding cake for a friend! I’ve been reading up on cream cheese frosting as I’m a bit worried about using it – the cake will be out all day and I don’t want to make anyone ill if the frosting spoils! Could you please let me know how long you would recommend leaving the cake out of the refrigerator before it spoils? If any of your readers have any thoughts on this too they would be much appreciated!

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Emily,

      The length of time it can be left out is related to the temperature of the room. If the room is very warm, then you will have just a couple of hours before the cream cheese icing wants to wilt. It really won’t spoil, unless it is really hot in the room, but it will get too soft to hold up and droop.

      Thanks, Zoë

  104. Excited to try this recipe. One question: after looking at the recipe pictures, the cake photographed appears to have been baked in a single pan; maybe an 8″x3″ pan? Is there an advantage to baking in a single pan, and torting it? Thank you much for the recipe!

    1. Sorry for the additional question: if one were to bake the cake in an 8″x3″, what is your reccomended time/temp for the bake?

      1. Hi Logan,

        I would stay with 350°F, but you’ll need to increase the baking time. I’d check it at 45 minutes, but it will probably need even more time. Use a tester once the top feels set.

        Thanks, Zoë

  105. I made this recipe for Easter and it was the best carrot cake I’ve ever had! I hate carrot cake recipes with pineapple so this was a perfect fit for me. I replaced 1/2 cup of the oil with 2% greek yogurt and cut the sugar a little (1 1/4 cup white, 3/4 cup brown). I only had 1/2 cup of walnuts to use but it didn’t seem to impact the texture at all, and the spices were perfectly balanced (the orange zest, especially). Thank you for the great recipe!

    1. Hi Emily,

      So glad you tried it and it made a carrot cake lover of you! 🙂 I love all the substitutions, it will give me an excuse to bake one for myself!

      Cheers, Zoë

  106. UNBELIEVABLY delicious and perfect – the recipe I’ve been dreaming of. Thank you SO much.. my overly-picky husband claims this the best he’s ever had – and since I got all the credit I just wanted to share my gratitude here! Also – I doubled the recipe, made 3 layers, and cupcakes with the extra batter.. the cupcakes were TO die for. Can’t wait to make this all again. Thank you Zoe!

  107. This was fabulous!!! I just wish it measured the carrots by CUPS instead of pounds. Had to get out my eBay scale! :~) I made this for a birthday party, and was concerned about what people did and didn’t like…. such as maybe raisins. Well….. I kept everything in, and everyone went crazy over it. However, one person passed up this luscious dessert. I coaxed a confession from her. These are the things she did not like in the cake:
    Well…. ya can’t win ’em all….. it was actually funny…… oh well.
    It’s still going to be one of my new desserts. Oh. I baked it in a 9×13 pan, and it took forever to get baked in the middle. Wouldn’t recommend that. Cupcakes were great. I didn’t both.

  108. Hi Zoe, I have always used the Silver Palate recipe for carrot cake and loved it but I would really like to try yours. I noticed two people asking questions about High Alititude baking times and adding pineapple. I did not see a response from you. So I was wondering how much pineapple you would suggest adding. I also live at 5000 feet and have trouble with cakes. Do you have a suggestion? My cakes fall in the center.

  109. A friend gave me a carrot cake recipe 30 years ago that was so outrageously delicious, I gave it to the baker to make our wedding cake. If you substitute a can of diced pineapple for the raisins, the rest is much the same. Incredibly moist and yummy!

  110. I made this delicious cake last thanksgiving, but I do not remember if I doubled the ingredients for the cake. Also, You are showing a three tier cake, is the ingredients above enough for 3 tier?

  111. Hi Zoe,
    Love your site! Just wanted to ask a quick question. Once the cake is iced is it best to store in the fridge or in a cupboard? I’m icing it now but now serving it till later and wasn’t sure with cream cheese frosting what the best way to store it?
    Thanks so much

  112. Hi Zoe…Had carrot cake with cream cheese frosting at a friend’s place and was dying to try to make one myself…i am an amateur baker and long to go enhance my skills at a culinary school, but my full time desk job is not allowing me to do so…so i stumbled upon your site today, as I often keep looking through blogs…All my week-ends now will be dedicated to self learning! And i think this is an awesome page in my repertoire. I will let you know how this turns out!

  113. I am going to make this case for my son’s birthday. I’m wondering, though, whether I should take the cakes out of the pans before or after they cool? Obviously I am not a baker! Thanks for the recipe and the photos. The cake looks mouth-wateringly good.

  114. The recipe sounds lovely, and am hoping to make this for my family’s Easter dinner; however, you did not say how much carrots to add to the cake. If you could edit the recipe or notify me by email I would be grateful.

  115. This cake was beautiful and smelled heavenly. Batter didn’t quite fill my pans to half (I omitted dried fruit, maybe that was the issue), but the layers were still hearty enough to split. My only frustration was that the orange zest was a bit too powerful–it overpowered the carrot and spices a little. I loved the flavor, but it might not be what everyone is looking for in a carrot cake. I made four separate batches (for a wedding cake), and it came out evenly and beautifully each time. I’ll just go half on the orange zest next time!

    1. Hi Roshan,

      Are you baking at high altitude by any chance? I’ve never had this happen with this cake. Be sure not to open the oven for the first 75% of baking, and when you do, be very gentle.

      Thanks, Zoë

  116. Recipe looks great. Prefer to not use “extra-large” eggs. But my concern is you mention in the comments that you used 8×3 pans, but given the images, it looks more like 6×3.. did you really use 8×3 pans?

  117. Zoe,
    Just made this carrot cake for Christmas Eve for one of my sons (his favorite) and it is wonderful. It passed all tasters and especially Seth.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe.
    Also want you to know I use your red velvet cake all the time ( for many years now) and there is none better!
    Thanks an d happy holidays.

  118. Delicious! I substituted apple sauce for a small portion of the sugar and had to substitute baking soda and lemon for baking powder (oops!). I also skipped the ginger, nutmeg, and cloves and didn’t miss them. If I made it again, and I think I will, I’d skip the zest in the frosting, it tasted too citrusy for my taste.

  119. Made this cake yesterday (and posted the pics-thank you again for liking the post), but thank you most of all for the recipe and the tweaks to it. This has converted 2 stalwart carrot cake-unbelievers

  120. Absolutely delicious. The frosting was the best. My daughter and son-in-law said it tasted like a creamsicle. I will make it again and will probably use the frosting on other things – it was that good. Thanks Zoe.

  121. Carrot cake has been a favorite in our house for years. My daughter loves carrot cake on her birthday. I made your Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Icing. The cake has a perfect carrot flavor and balanced spices. This cream cheese icing is my new favorite. It has a light flavor and is not too rich. I made the cake in a disposable pan so it could be taken to her work. I sliced the cake in half. Then, i put coconut and walnuts in between. PS. The remaining icing was a great decorating compliment to the light airy pig picking cake. Thanks. Great recipe

  122. Carrot Cake is a family favorite in our home. Our daughter loves it on her birthday. I made your Carrot Can
    ke and Cream Cheese Icing. The cake has the perfect amount of carrot flavor and balanced spices. Also, The cream cheese icing is light and not too rich. I made the cake in a disposable pan so she could carry it to work. I layered the middle with coconut and walnuts for a surprise. It was a great hit. PS the remaining icing made a great decorating compliment to a light Pig Picking Cake.

  123. Zoe do you have a printable recipe for this cake? It sounds and looks delicious. I clicked the print page and it had 64 pages is that a mistake?

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