The Ultimate Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I like carrot cake. That’s not a big deal except I didn’t know I liked carrot cake until I made this one. This carrot cake is amazing. I’m not usually one to toot my own horn, but…oh wait…yes I am. So never mind.

I made this one for my family’s get together last Easter because carrot cake is one of my dad’s favorites, and it is perfect for Easter. Because it has carrots in it. And rabbits like carrots. And the Easter bunny is a rabbit. That’s my logic and I’m sticking to it. Seriously, this cake is fluffy and moist and full of flavor, and can convert people who don’t think they like carrot cake to people who loooove carrot cake. True story.

The cream cheese frosting is the ‘icing on the cake’. Well, literally, it is the icing on the cake. Good to know where that expression comes from. Cream cheese makes everything better it seems. It’s simple and pairs perfect with the sweet flavors of carrots and pineapple and spices that you have going on in the cake. And for those of you who are thinking ‘ewww, who wants carrots in a cake’…(yes, I was once one of those) they are soft and sweet once baked in the cake. It’s not like chowing down on a salad.

Toasting the pecans is optional, but makes it extra delicious. (Of course, the nuts can be left out all together if needed. My son is allergic to nuts, but doesn’t eat anything but chocolate cake, so I knew he wouldn’t be touching this.) I think black walnuts would be a good option as well.

The Ultimate Carrot Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup oil (I used canola)
1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk with a half tablespoon white vinegar, let sit for 5 mins)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
2 1/4 cups 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 nutmeg
2 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans (optional) *toasted if desired
1 cup golden raisins (optional) *I used regular raisins because that’s what I had on hand

Cream Cheese Frosting:
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, to taste

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place oven rack in center of oven. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by lightly coating with cooking spray and lining with parchment paper. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and pineapple together.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and nutmeg.
  • Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until blended together. 
  • Fold in carrots, pecans and raisins (if using) just until mixed in.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans and bake approx 30-40 minutes or until done (can check doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, it’s done)
  • Cool cakes in pan for 15 minutes then, turn onto baking rack to cool completely before frosting. (remove parchment paper) 
  • While cakes are cooling, prepare frosting by mixing cream cheese and butter together until creamy and smooth. Mix in vanilla, then confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time, until frosting has the desired consistency. 
  • Once cake has cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting. Add pecans to the top and /or sides of cake for decoration if desired. Chill. (This will help the frosting firm up some.)

This recipe is a little more work than my normal recipes, but it’s worth it! Definitely worthy of the Easter table and I will probably be making it again this year. Easter is coming so fast that I am not prepared at all. The weather is not cooperating either, I need Spring temps and sunshine!

And if you are looking for a healthier snack after indulging in this cake and all the kids’ Easter candy, check out my review of these low-carb, low sugar protein bars!

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