Classic Carrot Cake

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Classic Carrot Cake

Welcome to Jessie Bakes Classic Cakes Part 3

This is the third recipe in my latest baking series: Jessie Bakes Classic Cakes. Simple, timeless, comforting cake recipes that ANYONE can easily make time and time again.

In case you missed the first two recipes, here’s a link to my Classic Victoria Sponge Cake and Classic Coffee Cake. Both equally delicious!

Who invented Carrot Cake?

Our modern-day or “classic” style carrot cake most likely evolved from Medieval carrot puddings, where carrots were first boiled until soft, then mixed together with spices, flour and eggs.

It wasn’t until the early 1900s that carrot pudding started to be baked in a loaf tin and transformed into a sweet bread-like cake. Fast forward some time and a thick slather of cream cheese frosting was added (thank you America 😅) to make what we now know as a Classic Carrot Cake.

This Classic Carrot Cake recipe is:

  • Flavoured with grated carrot, orange zest and spices
  • Filled with chopped walnuts
  • Moist and soft in texture
  • Sandwiched with cream cheese frosting
  • Free from sultanas 😉 but feel free to add some if you’d like
Classic Carrot Cake

Ingredients & alternatives

To make this carrot cake you will need:

  • Carrots – you’ll need 200g whole carrots, which is roughly 2 medium-sized carrots.
  • Spices – cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg give this sponge a lovely warming spice.
  • Orange – you’ll zest a large orange (not a satsuma or tangerine) and add this to the cake mixture.
  • Walnuts – chopped walnuts are added to the sponge.
  • Sunflower oil – using oil instead of butter makes the cake texture really moist and soft. You can use vegetable oil instead.
  • Light muscovado sugar – you can use light brown sugar instead.
  • Self-raising flour – you can instead use 300g plain flour + 1.5 teaspoons baking powder.
  • Eggs – you’ll need 4 medium eggs for this cake, or you can use 3 large eggs instead.

Wondering if you can use an alternative ingredient? Leave a comment at the bottom of this recipe, and I’ll reply to you ASAP!

Carrot Cake ingredients

5 tips for making Cream Cheese Frosting

Problems making cream cheese frosting? Does it always turn into a lumpy, runny disaster? Trust me, I’ve been there! Follow these 5 tips to make a thick, spreadable and smooth cream cheese frosting:

  1. Use Full-fat Philadephia Cream Cheese
  2. Beat the butter on its own for 1-2 minutes first.
  3. Sift the icing sugar to remove any lumps.
  4. Add the cream cheese straight from the fridge so it’s still cold.
  5. Gently fold the cream cheese into the mixture. Be really careful not to over-mix as this will loosen the frosting.

Need more help? Check out this detailed Cream Cheese Frosting blog post.

Recipe troubleshooting

Below I’ve answered the most common questions you might stumble across with this recipe. Got a different question? Leave a comment at the bottom of this recipe, and I’ll reply to you ASAP!

What size cake tin should I use?

This recipe uses 2 x 20cm (8inch) round cake tins. Here is a link to the exact tins I used from Lakeland. Make sure your baking tins aren’t too shallow because the cakes will rise, the tins I used were 8cm in height.

Can I use a different sized baking tin?

Yes absolutely! Here’s how to adjust the baking time:

  • 15cm (6inch) round tin = plus 5-10 minutes. Check on the cake after 5 minutes.
  • 23cm (9inch) round tin = minus 5-10 minutes. Check on the cake after 5 minutes.
  • 20x20cm square tin = minus 5-10 minutes. Check on the cake after 5 minutes.
  • Cupcakes = the recipe will make roughly 18 cupcakes. Bake for 18-20 minutes at 180°C.
Can I use gluten-free flour?

Yes you can! Just sub the 300g self-raising flour for 300g gluten-free flour + 1.5 teaspoons of xanthan gum (this will improve the texture of the cake) + 1 teaspoon baking powder.

My cake sunk in the middle, what happened?

Urggh, this can be so annoying! There are three main reasons this could have happened:

  1. The oven was too hot which caused the cake to rise too quickly
  2. You opened the oven door too early and caused a sudden change in temperature
  3. The cake wasn’t fully baked before it was taken out of the oven

But don’t worry, there is a way you can rescue your cake. Use a round cookie cutter to stamp out of the middle of the cake layers, and then sandwich them together with frosting. It’s basically a carrot bundt cake!

My cream cheese frosting isn’t thick enough, what do I do?

Whatever you do, do not try adding more icing sugar 😅 it won’t work! Instead, put the frosting in the fridge for 1 hour. This will give it time to set and hopefully thicken up.

Ways to upgrade this Carrot Cake

This Classic Carrot Cake is delicious as it is, but here are a few ways you could upgrade the recipe:

  1. Add 50g sultanas or raisins to the sponge
  2. Double up the cream cheese frosting ingredients to coat the entire cake
  3. Dust the top of the cake with a little cinnamon

Equipment & ingredients used for this recipe

Carrot Cake

Classic Carrot Cake Recipe

This delicious Classic Carrot Cake is spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, filled with chopped walnuts and sandwiched together with cream cheese frosting.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Baking
Servings 10


Carrot Cake

  • 300 g Light muscovado sugar or light brown sugar
  • 4 medium Eggs at room temperature 
  • 300 ml Sunflower oil 
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract 
  • 300 g Self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp Ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of Ground cloves 
  • 1 large Orange zest only
  • 200 g Carrot grated
  • 125 g Chopped walnuts

Cream cheese frosting

  • 150 g Unsalted butter soft at room temperature
  • 150 g  Full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese use cold straight from the fridge
  • 300 g Icing sugar


  • Preheat your oven to 170°C (fan oven).
  • Lightly grease two 8inch round cake tins with butter and line the base with greaseproof paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat the wet ingredients together: sugar, eggs, sunflower oil and vanilla extract. Set the bowl aside.
  • In a separate bowl stir the dry ingredients together: flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and orange zest together.
  • Pour the mixed wet ingredients into the dry and mix together until combined.
  • Add the grated carrot and chopped walnuts and fold into the mixture.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes until risen, golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool for 20 minutes in the baking tins, then transfer onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Make the cream cheese frosting

  • Beat the butter until really soft and pale in colour.
  • Sift in half the icing sugar and beat until smooth.
  • Sift in the remaining icing sugar and beat again until smooth and creamy.
  • Now take the cream cheese out of the fridge and add it into the bowl.
  • Gently fold the cream cheese into the frosting until smooth. Be careful not to overdo it, as it can quickly become runny.

Assemble the cake

  • Place one of the carrot cake layers on a cake stand or plate. If the cake has domed on top, use a sharp knife to trim off the top and make the cake flat.
  • Spread half the cream cheese frosting on top.
  • Place the second carrot cake on top and lightly press down to sandwich the cake layers together.
  • Spread the remaining cream cheese frosting on top.
  • Decorate with either walnut halves or cute carrot shaped sugar decorations.


Store your carrot cake in a container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Keyword Butter, Carrot cake, Cinnamon, Cream cheese frosting, Eggs, Flour, Walnuts

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3 months ago

Never made a Carrot cake before and chose this recipe to try. Didn’t have oranges or cloves or nutmeg so I left them out. I don’t like walnuts so left them out too. I did add half a heaped tsp of Allspice. The result was amazing. It tasted so good. Thank you for this recipe it was easy to follow and the end result was scrumptious. Will definitely be baking this again.

5 months ago

This carrot cake looks amazing and I want to make it for a birthday! Do you think if I make it the day before and then assemble on the day it will still be fresh? Or even if I make the icing the day before to be certain it firms up? Thank you xx

7 months ago

5 stars
Best carrot cake recipe I’ve tried (and there’s been lots!). Definitely better than the Paul Hollywood or Mary Berry ones, much more moist. I added 1tsp extra of cinnamon because I like it spicy, and used pecans instead of walnuts because that’s what I had, and it was still excellent. My go to recipe now after years of searching! 😁

7 months ago

5 stars
Delicious carrot cake and very easy to make!
I didn’t add the walnuts as I’m not a fan of nuts in carrot cake but everything else was as written.

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