Carrot cake is not for everyone but those who like it tend to love it. It’s unctious, has a complex but not overpowering flavour, and it’s satisfying to make without being too much hassle. And whilst some people get sniffy about vegetable based cakes, Carrot Cake is often excluded for good reason. Our recipe is slightly spiced giving it some warmth, and the carrots combine deliciously with the sweetness of the oranges. Topped with a frosting that has just the right level of tangyness and you’ve got a perfectly balanced cake.
But before you get stuck into the recipe below, we’ve got some variations you can try so you really can make it YOUR perfect carrot cake.
Carrot Cake Flavour Variations
Nuts work well with carrot cakes, but walnuts are especially good - just the right level of nutty they can enhance the flavour and add a bit of texture to the cake, but don’t overwhelm it.
Raisins really divide opinion (Reshmi's on the side of hating them). But we know lots of people do like them and they can work well with a carrot cake, if that’s your thing. A little fruity burst that is heavenly to some and downright horrid for others.
It’s not as well known as an ingredient variation, but its sweetness and texture help keep the cake moist for longer and it complements the spices well. Tinned tends to be sweeter than fresh, but you can use either, just make sure the pieces are cut quite small otherwise they'll sink as it’s baking (and even then, an upside down carrot-pineapple cake wouldn't be the worst thing). If you do use tinned, consider keeping back some of the juice as you'll want to use it to flavour the icing, or you could reduce it down - fresh or tinned - to make a syrup or jam. And oven-dried pineapple flowers are beautiful for decorating!
Coconut has quite a distinctive taste so it isn’t a universally loved combination. However, it goes really well with the pineapple if you’re adding that in. Beware of putting too much in - it can overwhelm the flavour and alter texture, which is especially noticeable if you’re baking for a carrot cake purist. You can use it as a topping, either mixed into frosting or just sprinkled over at the end.
This time we’re enhancing the spiced side of the carrot cake. Candied ginger in a mouthful can add just a little hit of zing, complementing the cake texture and contrasting well with the carrots. Make sure you mix it in as small pieces as you don’t want it to be all that’s tasted in a bite, and just like the coconut don’t forget to keep some back to go on top as decoration.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
It’s no secret how much we love Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and of course it goes fantastically with a carrot cake. With less than half the sugar used in traditional frostings it’s sweet but not *just* sweet and since it can take on different flavours (including cream cheese) it's a great option. It holds well in ambient temperatures and can be used between and on top of the cake, so you only need to make one batch and it’ll keep any other decorations you add in place well. If you’re making this cake for a really special occasion it really is worth the time and effort, and isn’t actually that complicated at all.
Quick & Easy Cream Cheese Frosting
If you still want the cream cheese hit for your cake, but don’t have time for SMBC, this is what you need. This frosting is a good quick-to-make option and can go between your layers, over the top and sides, and it pipes well so you won’t compromise on impact. It will form a very slight crust too which is what you want from a frosting. If you know you’re not going to have long do consider getting a decorating turntable and a cake scraper, or a palette knife, ready in advance to help speed things up and keep things neat.
Which reminds me, before you get on with baking the recipe you might want to read our 10 best tools you can use at home for decorating like a pro. Honestly, we can’t tell you enough how useful these things are and how much stress they’ll save you. And the best bit is they’re budget friendly and great value. Lastly, if you do make your own perfect carrot cake let us know! We love seeing your creative bakes we’ve inspired, and especially if you try out some of the variations too. Just tag @angesdesucre #angesdesucre when you do and it’ll make our day!
Here is the simplest yet most gratifying Carrot Cake recipe ever with just the right amount of complexity to feel proud of the outcome, and the cream cheese frosting gives it the perfect balance between sweet and tangy. Oh, and it's stashed full of carrots which we all know we could always do with eating more of.
The Recipe for Perfect Carrot Cake
The Perfect Carrot Cake Sponge
For 3x 6inch round tins, or 2x 8" round tins
- 300g light brown muscavado sugar
- 300ml vegetable oil
- 5 eggs, lightly beaten
- 5 medium-sized carrots, grated
- Zest of 2 medium oranges
- 300g self raising flour, sifted
- 1.5 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1.5 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- Knob of butter (heehee...'knob')
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and prepare the baking tins by greasing well with the knob of butter. In a mixing bowl, stir together the beaten eggs, sugar and oil till well mixed.
2. Tip in the grated carrots and orange zest next and mix until well combined.
3. Add in the flour, baking soda and cinnamon and stir till well mixed. The mixture will be quite wet. Divide into the tins and bake for 30 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
4. Once baked, remove from the oven and leave to rest in their tins for around 10 minutes. Release them from the tins and let cool at room temperature on a wire rack. Try to resist digging in at this point!
The Perfect, Quick & Easy Cream Cheese Frosting
You can flavour our signature Swiss Meringue Buttercream with a few tablespoons of full fat cream cheese (at room temperature - otherwise the coldness of it can seize up the buttercream) which is lovely and smooth. Or if you are short on time and would like to skimp on effort but not flavour you can try this quick-and-easy frosting that will leave you with a fluffy frosting that crusts ever so slightly.
- 125g butter, soft at room temp
- 300g icing sugar, sifted
- 200g full fat cream cheese, room temp
1. In a stand mixer, whip the butter and icing sugar together till light and fluffy.
2. Add in all of the cream cheese and whip at medium speed for a few more minutes until well combined, fluffy and thick. DO NOT whip beyond this as it could go runny and will no longer be of pipe-able consistency.
Decorate the Perfect Carrot Cake
1. Smear a dollop of frosting in the middle of the cake board. Place a carrot cake sponge layer and centre it on the board.
2. Spread a layer of cream cheese frosting on the cake sponge. Place another sponge layer over and repeat until all sponges are sandwiched evenly.
3. Smooth a crumb coat of cream cheese frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Using a decorating turntable and offset spatula or cake scraper helps get a smooth finish. Place in the fridge to set for a few minutes. Add another coat of frosting over the crumb coat to fully cover the cake. Sprinkle crushed walnuts over the top and along the base of the cake.
4. Fit a piping bag with a medium star nozzle and pipe dollops along the top of the cake. Decorate with whole walnuts.
5. DIG RIGHT IN! OMG it's the best you'll EVER HAVE.
If you make this please do show off and tag us on Instagram @angesdesucre #angesdesucre so we can feast with our eyes.
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