Classic Carrot Cake – deliciously moist spiced carrot cake layers with a perfectly tangy cream cheese buttercream.
Carrot Cake: The Easter Dessert
Hard to believe Easter is less than a week away, right?! I know this Easter will look a bit different for most of us than in years past, but the meaning stays the same… as do the desserts!
For me, carrot cake is the quintessential Easter dessert. In fact, I think Easter is the only time of year we ever had carrot cake. But here’s the thing – I never liked carrot cake. Not until I made my Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream, that is. Every carrot cake I ever had growing up had nuts and raisins in it. And I think you know how I feel about that: eew, gross!
But when I made my first carrot cake, based off a Sweetapolita recipe, I realized two things: one, carrot cake doesn’t HAVE to have nuts and raisins and two, carrot cake is actually really good!
Untraditional Carrot Cake
The first carrot cake I published on my blog is definitely untraditional, and I think that’s why I like it so much. My recipe is based off a compilation of a couple adapted recipes from some of my fave bakers: the cake is adapted from Rosie of Sweetapolita and the white chocolate pretzel crack filling is adapted from Christina Tosi of Milk Bar.
I was first attracted to Rosie’s carrot cake because it didn’t have any nuts and raisins, and because she used ginger! I love ginger! I also love adding texture to my cakes, but not in the cake layers. So adding Christina’s white chocolate pretzel crack filling was almost a no-brainer.
In addition to the cake and the filling, I decided to add an apricot compote (you can also use apricot jam) and a white chocolate buttercream. Again, I was purposely going against the norm.
The result, a deliciously unique carrot cake!
Classic Carrot Cake
And while I absolutely love that unique carrot cake, I’ve been feeling for a while now that a classic, more traditional carrot cake was calling my name. So, here we are! Today I’m sharing my new Classic Carrot Cake recipe with you.
Traditional Carrot Cake Ingredients
- This cake is more traditional in flavor with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.
Oil and Applesauce
- I also use a combination of oil and applesauce for fat and moisture. You can certainly use all oil in place of applesauce or sub the applesauce for crushed pineapple.
Freshly Grated Carrots
- It’s SUPER important to use FRESHLY grated carrots in your carrot cake recipes. Freshly grated carrots have more moisture than the pre-shredded carrots. We want that moisture in our cake. That moisture also means the carrot pieces will softed. If you use pre-shredded carrots, you’ll have crunchy carrot pieces in your cake.
Cream Cheese Buttercream
- Sticking to traditional elements, I’m using a cream cheese buttercream with my Classic Carrot Cake instead of my white chocolate buttercream. To ensure the cream cheese flavor doesn’t overpower the cake, I don’t use a lot of cream cheese – just enough to give it a perfectly tangy but not overwhelming cream cheese flavor.
Nuts and Raisins
- As I mentioned above, I left nuts and raisins out of my cake layers. However, that doesn’t mean you have to if you love that kind of texture in your carrot cake. If you want to add nuts and raisins, I’d start with a half cup of each.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
If you’d like to turn this recipe into cupcakes, no problem! A full batch of the batter will make about 24 to 26 standard size cupcakes. You can also split the batch and make a half batch. I did that with my cupcakes yesterday!
For cupcakes, you’ll want to bake at 325 degrees F. for a little less time than the cake recipe calls for. Mine were perfect at 20 minutes. If you’re doing a full batch, and baking two cupcake pans at a time (on the same rack), the bake time will vary slightly. Keep your eye on them, but know they’ll take a few minutes longer.
BAKING TIP: I don’t ever recommend baking cake layers or cupcakes on different racks. You always want to bake them on your middle rack. If you can’t fit all of your cake pans or cupcake pans on the same rack in your oven, it’s ok to leave cake batter on the counter while you wait to bake. Just make sure to cover the cake pan or cupcake pan with plastic wrap while you wait.