This one bowl, one-layer carrot cake is the perfect "mix-and-bake" dessert for novices and skilled bakers alike. It's packed full of flavor from cozy spices like cinnamon and vanilla, and it's also got texture from toasty nuts. The frosting is super creamy and not a traditional buttercream because it's butter-free — just cream cheese, powdered sugar and flavorings. The cake is super moist because it uses oil, and the fresh carrots add moisture, too. You don't need any special equipment to make this cake. You simply mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl with a whisk or spoon.
Technique tip: This recipe makes enough frosting for 2 batches, so you can halve it, or save half for the next cake. By lining the pan with parchment paper, you'll be able to lift the cake straight from the pan.
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1½ cups grated carrots (from about 3 carrots)
- 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
- 4 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 dash salt
For the cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a square, 8- by 8-inch pan or a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and vegetable oil until combined. Add the milk, sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk until combined. Sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir or fold until combined. Add the carrots, nuts and raisins (if using) and stir or fold until combined.
3. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake until your house smells like carrot cake, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack.
For the frosting:
Add the softened cream cheese to a large bowl and whisk it (if the cream cheese isn't softened, zap it in the microwave for 10-20 seconds).
Add the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and salt and whisk until smooth. If it's a little too thick, add a tiny bit more milk.
Once your cake has cooled (if it's too hot, it will melt the frosting), spread the frosting on in an even layer.