This layered Carrot Cake is the best recipe for a moist cake that’s perfect to serve for Easter or any springtime brunch. It’s packed with classic flavor and coated with a thick layer of homemade cream cheese frosting for a decadent cake everyone will enjoy. Nuts are optional!
Who else loves carrot cake? I do! Haley here from If You Give a Blonde a Kitchen and today I’m sharing my recipe for a classic carrot layer cake with cream cheese frosting. Layered carrot cake has always been one of my favorite desserts. It has all the best baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.) that not-so-secretly disguise the vegetable inside this cake. And the best cake is almost always covered in rich cream cheese frosting. There is no shortage of flavor here!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s an easy way to make carrot cake from scratch using simple and healthy ingredients from home.
- This rich cake is super moist but also light enough to serve in warmer weather after a big brunch.
- Kids love this cake even though they are eating vegetables!
- A 2 layer carrot cake is the perfect way to get classic carrot cake and cream cheese frosting in every bite.
- The base of this cake is made completely nut free.
- You can decorate this cake with additional colored frosting, Easter candy, or even dried fruit for a beautiful presentation.
What You’ll Need to Make Layered Carrot Cake
- All-Purpose Flour – The main dry ingredient, this is what binds together the spices, carrots and makes the cake texture.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda – Even though this cake is dense, baking powder and soda help the cake rise slightly.
- Cinnamon, Nutmeg & Cloves – These classic spices add a warming flavor to the cake that’s perfect for spring.
- Grated Carrots – Grated carrots are the star of this cake and offer a great texture and natural sweetness.
- White & Brown Sugar – Helps to sweeten the cake and add texture.
- Eggs – Binds all the ingredients together and helps the cake set properly.
- Oil – Gives the cake a rich texture. The recipe calls for canola or vegetable oil, but you can use melted coconut oil for a natural oil.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Softened Butter & Cream Cheese – These two ingredients make up the base of the frosting for a tangy, yet buttery thick frosting that pairs well with carrot cake.
- Vanilla Extract – Adds a light vanilla flavor throughout.
- Confectioners Sugar – Gives the frosting sweetness while blending into the cream cheese and butter well.
How to Frost & Decorate Carrot Cake
This beautiful carrot cake is topped with homemade cream cheese frosting and a crumb which adds texture and flavor:
- Place one cake on a cake stand and drop a large dollop of frosting in the center. Use an offset spatula to push the frosting toward the edges of the cake evenly.
- Place the second cake on top of the frosted bottom cake.
- Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides of the cake. This is called the crumb coat which catches all the crumbs, so it’s okay if you see the cake and crumbs at this step.
- Chill the cake for 10 to 15 minutes for the crumb coat to set.
- Apply a second, thicker layer of frosting. Cut and serve the cake!
- When grating carrots, make sure the shreds are roughly the same size to keep the texture of the cake even. Pat them dry with a towel before adding them to the cake batter.
- Make sure all of your refrigerated ingredients come to room temperature before using to make sure the cake is cooked evenly and all ingredients are incorporated fully.
- Let cake cool completely before layering with cream cheese frosting to keep the frosting from melting off the cake.
- We highly recommend frosting a crumb coat around the outside of the cake. It’s a thin layer of frosting that goes on before the final, thicker layer of frosting. It will catch crumbs so they don’t show up in the beautiful outer frosting layer.
- Use melted coconut oil for a natural oil and light coconut flavor that pairs well with the flavors of carrot cake.
- For additional spice, add freshly grated ginger to the batter.
- If you can eat nuts, add chopped walnuts or pecans to the batter or sprinkle on top for garnish.
Storing & Freezing
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Carrot cake tastes amazing when served cold.
To freeze: Because of the high fat content in the cream cheese frosting, layered carrot cake is easily frozen. Carefully wrap each slice in plastic wrap, then a layer of foil and add to a freezer safe bag or container for 4-6 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before serving.
More Cake Recipes You’ll Love
- Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache
- Homemade Funfetti Cake
- German Chocolate Cake
- Double Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Buttercream Filling
- Chocolate Sheet Cake with Chocolate Buttercream
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Layered Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Pinch of ground cloves, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound medium carrots, peeled, grated and patted dry (about 7)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups canola or vegetable oil
- 2 cups cream cheese, softened but still cool (16 ounces)
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- Chopped pecans for garnish, optional
For the Cake:
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with butter. Dust with flour and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Set aside.
- In a food processor fit with a metal blade, process granulated sugar, brown sugar and eggs until thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With the processor running, add the oil through the feed tube and blend until mixture is light in color, about another 20 seconds.
- In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients from the food processor, the flour mixture, and the grated carrots. Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until combined and no flour streaks remain.
- Pour the batter into the two prepared cake pans (dividing the batter evenly). Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes. Rotate pans halfway through the baking time. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack (about two hours).
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- In the bowl of a hand mixer (or using a hand mixer), combine cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. With the mixer on low, add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.
- Run a butter knife around the edge of the cake pans. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack.
- Place one cake on a cake stand and drop a large dollop of frosting in the center. Use an offset spatula to push the frosting toward the edges of the cake evenly. Place second cake on top of the frosted bottom cake.
- Create the crumb coat*. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides of the cake. It’s okay if you see the cake and crumbs at this step. Chill the cake for 10 to 15 minutes for the crumb coat to set.
- Apply a second, thicker layer of frosting. Cut and serve the cake!
- Oil: Use melted coconut oil for a natural oil and light coconut flavor that pairs well with the flavors of carrot cake.
- Spices: For additional spice, add freshly grated ginger to the batter.
- Nuts: Add chopped walnuts or pecans to the batter or sprinkle on top for garnish.