This easy Carrot Cake recipe yields a gloriously moist cake and is indeed one of the best I’ve ever made or tried. Cream cheese frosting is a must!
You know it’s summer when all the ants start coming out of their hiding places. It makes it a little difficult to bake when you’re always keeping watch for them, at the same time, it’s not really stopping me is it? I feel especially inclined to get in the kitchen when I’m prepping to try a recipe that has the word “Best” in the title, taunting me to taste to believe. And I must say, this recipe makes an Awesome Carrot Cake. Indeed, possibly one of the best I’ve made and eaten.
When I think of summer, for some reason, I think of carrot cake. I can’t explain why, but it could be the colors of the ingredients, or the way carrot cake evokes a sweet summery nostalgia. I mean, I like me a good carrot cake anytime of the year, but it just feels more particularly appealing in the summer.
Nonetheless, when I came across this particular recipe labeled as “Best Carrot Cake” from Style Sweet CA, I knew I had to give it a try. Labeling things as “best” is always tricky, and for me, it always arouses my curiosity. It makes me want to deliberately test the recipe for its level of “best-ness” compared to the other recipes I’ve made. And oh boy what a shock it was to me when I realized that the last time I made a carrot cake on this blog was on April 2016. My favorite version until today was this recipe I made in 2011, and I have to say, this one really makes a case for why it has received a “best” label.
You get all the goodness of carrots, pineapple, and raisins in every bite, plus a bit of that cinnamon-y warmth that is always welcome despite the summer heat. The flavors of this cake actually come out even more as the days pass, and whether you eat the cake cold or at room temperature, the experience is equally enjoyable.
Although I can vaguely remember making a carrot cake that has a slightly better flavor than this one, I can say without a doubt that this has the best texture among the carrot cakes I’ve made so far. It’s so freaking moist! There’s no other word to describe it. Especially once you frost between the layers (and I was kind of stingy with the frosting, I admit), the moist cake almost turns creamy when you eat it with the frosting.
A carrot cake is one of the easiest things you can make because the recipe is usually very forgiving. You literally just mix everything together, but of course you have to take care also not to overmix the batter. The frosting is pretty much the same thing, because it’s a dump and mix kind of thing too. While I used almond meal for my batter, you can easily sub it out for flour as mentioned in the recipe below.
The only thing that you have to make a “difficult” decision on with regards to this cake is how many layers you want to make it into. I made four layers, baking two pans of cake and then slicing each cake in half, but you can make a three-layer cake out of this one too. This way, each layer gets a more generous coat of frosting.
The cake layers themselves are impressive in their texture. I made these on a Sunday afternoon, refrigerated in a really cold fridge, then sliced through them and frosted them on Monday night. The layers stayed moist and did not dense up or harden in the fridge. I would not describe the crumb of this as tender or fluffy; it is straight down moist as a carrot cake should be, in my opinion.
For a person who is not big on frosting, I actually regret cutting down on it to make a very naked cake. (Now there’s a statement you don’t hear everyday!) I think a little more of that savory-sweet cream cheese can give the cake an even bigger boost. I guess I’m really partial to cream cheese frostings, or maybe I simply believe cream cheese frosting is a match made in heaven for carrot cake. Either way, I really love this combo.
I halved my frosting from the original recipe, thinking I would make a naked cake, but for the first time I feel that I should’ve made an entire batch of the frosting and went to town with it. At least if I decided to make it a naked cake anyway, I would’ve been able to frost between the layers more generously.
Another major charm of this cake is that it is not too sweet, and you can taste all the components present in the cake with every bite. If you’re not a fan of raisins, I feel like this cake isn’t overbearing in that aspect. To me, the occasional dots of raisin provide a touch of sweetness rather than annoyance. The cinnamon is just enough to cut through the light sweetness of the cake. The only thing that would’ve made it better was a tad more of that savory-sweet cream cheese between each layer.
An Amazing Carrot Cake
Makes an 8- or 9-inch layer cake
For the cake
- ¾ cup almond meal, toasted (can be replaced with ground walnuts or 1/3 cup all-purpose flour)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1¼ cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- Zest of one orange, optional
- ¾ cup canola oil
- 3 cups shredded carrots
- 225 grams 8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
For the frosting*
- 6 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup 1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 2 Tablespoons whole milk, or more as needed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the cake
- 1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour two 8- or 9-inch cake pans. (You can also use three cake pans if your oven will allow so you won't have to slice the cake into layers later on.) Set aside.
- 2. In a bowl, sift together almond meal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. (If using ground walnuts, do not add it in yet.) Whisk to combine and set aside.
- 3. In another large mixing bowl, whisk together both sugars, and eggs. (Add in orange zest, if using.) Slowly stream in the oil and mix until combined.
- 4. Working in two batches, fold in the dry ingredients. (If using ground walnuts, fold it in at this point.) Fold in the shredded carrots and pineapple until combined.
- 5. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before turning out the cakes from their pans.
Make the frosting
- 6. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Mix in the remaining frosting ingredients and beat until frosting becomes fluffy. You can adjust the milk or sugar according to your desired frosting consistency.
Assemble the cake
- 7. Once the cakes have cooled, slice each cake in half to get four layers. Divide the frosting into four portions, then use a spatula to spread onto each layer. Finally, frost the top of the cake. (I tend to frost the top of the cake with more frosting than the layers.) Refrigerate briefly to set the frosting before slicing and enjoying.