A delicious subtly spiced one layer carrot cake that manages to be both super moist and fluffy with a perfect not too sweet easy cream cheese frosting. Few things tastier that you can enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea!
This is a winning recipe, barely adapted from Bread Ahead Bakery. If you aren’t familiar with them, go stalk their instagram now and just look at their famous donuts. One of the best things I’ve ever tasted is their donuts from Borough Market in London. They are famous world over for a good reason. And they don’t just stop at delicious donuts- they’ve been holding live baking sessions nearly every day of March and April to get us all inspired and baking at home during the Covid-19 quarantine. It’s been so much fun! This is the first recipe I’ve tried, and I’m glad I did!
What makes this carrot cake so good?
Honestly, above all, that it’s SO EASY. You mix a few things together- wet ingredients in one bowl and dry in another. You don’t even technically need an electric mixer, if you don’t have one just whisk or mix by hand. The fact that it’s a one layer carrot cake means no filling and stacking and frosting perfecting. It’s all just simple !
Also, it tastes even better the next day. All the flavors sit and deepen and the cake gets even moister. It’s just delicious. The perfect moist texture, just enough spice, great ratio of carrot to cake, soft and fluffy, with a pleasing cream cheese frosting that’s not too sweet at all.
Ingredients in a one layer carrot cake:
The batter of the cake has the following ingredients:
Brown sugar: I used dark brown because the extra molasses in that works so well here, but even light will do perfectly.
Eggs: Make sure these are room temperature so they combine properly into the cake.
Vanilla: I upped the amount from the original recipe from 1/4 tsp to 1/2.
Vegetable Oil: This is what gives the cake all its moisture! I do find oil based cakes are usually moister than butter based ones
Grated carrot and walnuts: I like grating on the coarse side of a handheld grater, but you could also use a food processor if you have a grating attachment. Chop the walnuts pretty finely so they distribute in the cake without sinking to the bottom. You could also toss them with a tiny bit of the flour to prevent sinking, but I didn’t bother to do this. You can also substitute the walnuts for pecans or any other nuts or eliminate them all together.
Dry ingredients: Regular flour and a pinch of salt for flavor, as well as ground cinnamon and ginger for the classic carrot cake spice. I increased the cinnamon in the original recipe from 1/2 tsp to a full one.
For the cream cheese frosting: as simple as soft butter, soft cream cheese, and icing sugar mixed together. They also added a squeeze of lemon juice which I did too and really like the flavor that added.
The original recipe actually called for 300g of icing sugar, but I added 200 and found even that a little sweet, so I modified the recipe below. Go with your preference, add 1.5 cup of icing sugar and if you think it can used more add 0.5 cups onwards extra.
Tips for carrot cake success:
-Cool the cake completely before frosting so the frosting doesn’t run straight off
-Make sure the butter is soft for the icing, mix it a little to soften further before adding the SOFTENED cream cheese. This is key to not get a lumpy frosting. If the icing sugar has lumps in it, sift it before adding for the same reason.
-Don’t overbake, start checking near the stated bake time since every oven is a little different. You don’t want a dried out cake!
Do you need an electric mixer?
No! They actually made this live without one. The cake will combine very easily by hand since there is no butter in it to cream. Even the frosting is easy to smooth together with a. wooden spoon, just make sure the butter and cream cheese really are soft.
How to store leftover cake:
It will last for 5 days in the fridge tightly covered, but I doubt it’ll stick around for that long!
-I haven’t tried this with GF flour, but I imagine it would work very well!
-Feel free to leave out the nuts or substitute with pecans, hazelnuts, even sunflower seeds
-You can use dark or light brown sugar
-Feel free to double the recipe and make it as a 9 inch double layered cake
-I think some caramel sauce swirled into the frosting would be delicious!
One Layer Carrot Cake
For the cake:
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour 150 g
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/2 tsp ginger powder
- pinch salt
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 3/4 cup soft brown sugar 150 g
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil 150 g
- 2 large carrots, grated 150 g
- big handful cup chopped walnuts, optional
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 1/2 stick softened butter 50 g
- 4 oz softened cream cheese 125 g
- squeeze fresh lemon juice
- 1.5-2 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar) 150-200 g
- handful chopped walnuts for topping, optional
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350F (175F). Prepare an 11×7 or 9×9 inch pan by lightly greasing and lining with parchment paper or flouring to prevent sticking.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt), and set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar for 2 minutes on medium speed or so until well combined. Add the vanilla and the vegetable oil and mix until combined.
- Reduce the speed to low, and add the dry ingredients all at once until incorporated. Don't over mix, a few flour streaks are ok.
- Add the grated carrots and walnuts if using and fold in with a spatula. Don't mix too much. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for around 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before frosting.
For the cream cheese frosting:
- In a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the softened butter for 20-30 seconds until fluffy. Add the soft cream cheese and beat until combined and light and fluffy. Sift in the icing sugar, reduce heat to low and mix until combined. Add a squeeze of lemon juice (optional) and mix until combined. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
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