Look no more for a super moist and tender carrot cake! With loads of freshly grated carrots, sweet currants and chopped pecans, infused with ground spices, filled and topped with an ultra smooth and creamy cream cheese frosting, and for a twist of flavour from the tropics, decorated with toasted coconut flakes on all sides, this carrot cake is the ultimate!
I know I probably say this for just about every cake I like, but I utterly adore carrot cake.
Would you be surprised to know that I make it almost a life mission of mine to find the best of the best carrot cake recipes? I know that sounds extreme but I’ve had a love affair with carrot cake for as long as I can remember.
So when I was asked recently to make one for an upcoming birthday, I was elated! It gave me an excuse to launch into an all-out search for the next great carrot cake recipe.
I felt like I was on my own set of ‘The Great British Bake-Off’ to be honest. I was baking one recipe after another, tweaking combinations and proportions.
Learning from mistakes and errors, adapting with each subsequent bake, until I finally arrived at this ultimate carrot cake.
This is the carrot cake of dreams!
This is truly everything I dreamed my perfect carrot cake to be. And when friends tell you that it’s one of the best they’ve ever tasted, you know you’ve got something special! Thanks, in no small measure, to Inspired Taste’s take on Smitten Kitchen’s carrot cake recipe.
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You’ll find that this is truly a super moist, tender, and utterly delicious carrot cake?! Oh my, you’re going to love it!
It’s ridiculously easy to make too! In fact carrot cakes are just about as easy as baking my favourite choc choc rum brownies.
If you prefer to enjoy carrot cake as cupcakes, this is also the perfect recipe! There should be enough batter to make 24 cupcakes.
This is an all-in-one carrot cake batter that comes together easily by hand
Here’s how easy it is to make carrot cake from scratch. And you can do it all by hand, no need for a mixer!
- Combine all the dry and powdered ingredients together, except the sugars.
- Separately, whisk all the wet ingredients together, and the sugars are added.
- Then gently fold the dry mixture into the wet, until we get a smooth and lump-free batter. And that is most of the hard work all done
- Fold in all the good stuff that brings together the flavours of a carrot cake. Grated carrots, fruit (currants or raisins), and nuts.
Carrot cake ★ star ingredients
Freshly grated carrots
There’s loads of freshly grated carrots – 3 cups full! Yes, you’ll really want to put in that much. But I promise you, the taste of carrots is not going to dominate or overwhelm the cake.
Instead it’s going to sweeten things up a little more. More importantly, all that carrot goodness will impart that lovely moisture into the cake, and that’s what we want!
You can decide if you’d like your carrots finely or roughly grated, or a bit of both. I have found that finely grated carrots result in a finer crumb (see photo below) that holds together so much better, but that’s just me.
Spice mix – cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
Spices are so essential in carrot cake, and I cook and bake with spices so much that it’s hard to imagine food or desserts without their earthy flavours, warmth and aroma.
I love to throw together spices that harmonise beautifully in cakes. Here, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, together, are a wonderful combination. These really infuse the cake with that little extra special ooomph!
Dried fruit – raisins, currants, or your favourites
And for added texture, throw raisins or currants into the mix. Currants are my personal favourite.
I love that they’re as small as chocolate chips, which makes slicing cake portions a breeze and a lot neater. Plus, these don’t leave such big gaping cavities if they do drop out!
Pecans and walnuts are popular favourites in carrot cakes. I like having nuts chopped up to about the same size as currants. This way, you can get those picture-perfect, neat cake slices, and still enjoy a good nutty crunch in your bite.
You’re probably starting to sense that I’m pretty obsessed with getting neat slices out of my cakes!
This recipe is very versatile and forgiving, You can work in your favourite fruit, nuts, spices, even liquors.
But I highly recommend that you try this as is. Just so you can taste for yourself what makes this back-to-basics kind of carrot cake so deliciously good.
Ultra smooth whipped cream cheese frosting
But the real icing on the cake, we all know, is the stuff that really defines the unforgettable taste of a carrot cake. Undeniably, for me, that would be the creamy, decadent cream cheese frosting!
Though this cake tastes so good without the need for dress-up, cream cheese frosting and carrot cake are like peas in a pod. This is where this ultra smooth and creamy cream cheese frosting comes in!
This frosting is as suggested in the original recipe and doesn’t require any butter. But I did tweak a bit, by adding vanilla extract and a little rum.
Use a flavoured liquor if you like – amaretto or cointreau should go really well too. A squeeze of lemon juice to blunt the sweetness, and that’s your dream cream cheese frosting all done!
This makes a softer but very spreadable frosting. If you want a firmer or pipeable consistency, you’ll want to reduce the amount of heavy cream till it’s at the consistency you prefer.
Toasted coconut flakes
Even a delicious cake needs a pretty, elegant, and tasteful finish, don’t you think? Because I’m from the tropics, coconuts are kind of my thing!
If you can get your hands on juicy coconut flakes (the packaged kind), toast it and dress the sides with it! It adds such a wonderful flavour and texture to this already sumptuos carrot cake!
Here are more awesome cake recipes to inspire your next bake:
- Perfect-Bake Rum and Raisin Banana Bread
- Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Streusel Topping
- Lemon Raspberry Cake
- Nectarine Walnut Torte
- Fig and Cherry Cake
Tried this recipe? I’d love to see! Remember to share your pics on Instagram and tag @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy.
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Super Moist & Tender Carrot Cake
For the Batter:
- 2 cups plain flour
- 2 tsps baking soda
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsps ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 ¼ cups canola or other vegetable oil
- 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups grated carrots
- 1 cup roughly chopped pecans
- ½ cup currants or raisins optional
For the Filling & Frosting:
- 12 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups confectioner’s sugar or to taste
- 100 ml heavy cream
- ½ cup coconut flakes lightly toasted
- ½ cup roughly chopped pecans lightly toasted
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp rum optional
To make the batter:
- Pre-heat oven to 175 deg C (350 deg F). Grease the sides and base of two 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pans. Line the base in both pans with baking paper, then lightly grease the top of the paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and ground spices, and stir with a whisk until well mixed. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugars, and vanilla extract. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated.
- Sift in the flour mixture, in 3 parts. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold each part into the batter, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl, until the flour disappears. The batter should be smooth and free of lumps. Fold in the grated carrots, currants, and chopped pecans all at once, until well distributed throughout the batter.
- Divide the batter equally between the prepared pans. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the tops of the cake spring back when touched, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- When baking is done, let cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks, peel off the baking paper and allow to cool completely.
To make the frosting:
- Using an electric or hand-held mixer, whip cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in the icing sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until well incorporated. Taste the frosting as you add each 1/4 cup of sugar, to your desired sweetness (you may need a little less or more), each time beating until fluffy. Pour in the cream, vanilla extract and rum (optional) and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. You may not need to add all the cream, if you prefer a thicker or pipeable consistency. Chill the frosting for 15 minutes, to firm it up a little, to make spreading easier.
To Complete the Cake:
- When the cake layers are completely cool, using an offset spatula, spread 1/3 of the frosting on top of one layer, place the other layer on top, and spread another 1/3 of the frosting. With the remaining 1/3, spread a thin layer all around the sides. Smooth the top and sides of the cake. Using your palm, gently press in toasted coconut flakes on the sides. Scatter toasted, chopped pecans on top as desired.
- Chill the cake, covered, until ready to serve. Carrot cake always tastes better the day after when the flavours have had time to come together beautifully, so it’s best to bake this cake at least a day ahead.