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+ servings

Foolproof, Perfect Carrot Cake Recipe

Mimi Newman
Foolproof, Perfect Carrot Cake Recipe
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Cake
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings


Cake layers:

  • 10 tablespoons 142 grams unsalted butter, melted but not hot. Microwave for 30 seconds, swirl it around, let it sit to cool off.
  • 2 cups 400 grams firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup 250 grams unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups 296 grams grated carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
  • 2 1/2 cups 318 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons of my homemade chai spice or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Optional: 3/4 cup 84 grams chopped walnuts

Cream cheese frosting:

  • 3 packets 24 ounces/680 grams of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 sticks 227 grams of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 4-5 cups of powdered sugar. if you don't have any you can DIY powdered sugar by following this hack


  • Start by baking the cakes.
  • Preheat your oven to 350F. Spray your cake pans with baking spray and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine your wet ingredients: the sugar, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, applesauce, and grated carrots.
  • In another bowl off to the side, whisk together your dry ingredients: the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger. Add in thirds to your wet ingredients and mix to *just barely combine*.
  • Add in the nuts in last and fold to combine, if you wish.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the 3 pans -- it'll be about 21 ounces of batter per cake pan.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes, until the sides of the cake are pulling away from the cake pan.
  • When done, let them cool in their pans for about 5-10 minutes. Then, flip them onto a cooling rack, and stick in your freezer while you make the frosting.
  • Make the cream cheese frosting next.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and the pinch salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
  • On low speed, add in the powdered sugar in thirds, until nicely combined. Scrape down the sides to make sure everything's incorporated.
  • It should be very pliant and well-combined.
  • Assemble the cake
  • Pull the cake layers out of the freezer, and place a dab of frosting on a plate or a cake platter (this helps 'glue' the cake down to the platter), and place the cake layer upside down (so the flattest part is face-up). Spoon about 1/4 of your frosting on that layer, and spread around evenly using an offset spatula.
  • Repeat with the next two layers. You'll have a naked cake after you've applied frosting to the 3 layers on each one's top only.
  • Stick the cake in the fridge for about 10 minutes to let the frosting firm up before doing the sides.
  • Come back to the cake and apply the rest of your frosting on the sides. I use my offset spatula and apply globs of frosting on the sides, then smooth it around/try to get it to be uniformly applied. Once there's an even amount of frosting, using a bench scraper, place the bench scraper perpendicular to the cake and gently drag it around the cake, to even out the sides. Here's a video that shows that in more detail.
  • Serve immediately, or store in the fridge until you're ready -- it will last about 3-4 days in the fridge.
Keyword Carrot cake, carrot cake recipe, mothers day dessert, spring baking
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