Food & Drink

Classic Homemade Carrot Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Frosting | What’s Cooking

Easy, moist carrot cake recipe from scratch with homemade cream cheese frosting from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

Meet the cake that bridges the divide between lovers and haters: our easy, moist carrot cake. Carrots seem like a weird thing to put in a cake, but not if you’re from ye olde times before the advent of processed sugar, or if you’re looking for something that grows abundantly and is rich with natural sugar. Or if you had lived through times when supplies were limited. These days, we don’t rely on the carrots as the sole source of sweetness, but they do lend a flavor layer and moisture content of their own, which have kept this cake kicking around and beloved by many.

Even so, there are many among us who don’t usually think, “Root vegetable? Mmm … that’ll make a delicious dessert!” Especially when you look at a typical slice and there are all these scraggly bits of bright-orange vegetable debris poking out of each forkful. But in our from-scratch carrot cake recipe, the carrots are finely grated, which not only helps distribute their flavors evenly as they break down throughout the cake, but you also end up with much more hydrated, visually appealing crumb. Also to its credit, our method keeps flavors simple, traditional and delicious—without walking on the wild side by adding raisins or pineapple or whatever else (though you certainly could, if you’re an advanced carrot cake connoisseur).

Topping it all, you have the rich, tangy cream cheese frosting. Cream. Cheese. Frosting. Nobody hates that. We challenge you to put a slice of this carrot cake in front of its worst enemy. The only fight that will ensue will be over the last slice. It’s really just that good.

Easy, moist carrot cake recipe from scratch with homemade cream cheese frosting from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

Classic carrot cake ingredients. Recipe from Nordstrom.

Classic Carrot Cake
From our Nordstrom Friends and Family Cookbook and Marketplace Café
(Serves 12)

Cake Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for preparing pan
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 cups finely grated, peeled carrots
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter two 9-inch round cake pans and then dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.

To toast the walnuts, spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until lightly browned, 8 to 12 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

In a bowl, using an electric mixer set on low speed, beat together the sugar and canola oil until blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and salt, then slowly add the 1 1/2 cups flour and baking soda and beat until just smooth.

In a bowl, stir together the carrots, walnuts and cinnamon, folding them into the batter until well distributed. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, smoothing the top with a spatula.

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Bake the cake layers until a toothpick inserted near the center of each cake comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cakes rest in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Place a rack on top of 1 cake, invert the cake and rack, and then lift off the pan. Repeat with the second cake. Let cool completely before icing.

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Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
3/4 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups chopped walnuts, toasted for decoration

In a bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the frosting increases in volume by about half.

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To assemble the cake, place 1 cake layer on a plate, bottom side up. Cut strips of waxed paper and place under the edges of the cake to keep the plate clean while frosting the cake. Spread the top of this layer with about one third of the frosting. Place the second layer, bottom side up, on top. Spread frosting around the sides of the cake and then frost the top. Press a layer of chopped walnuts all around the sides. Carefully remove the strips of waxed paper. Cover and refrigerate the cake until serving.

Easy, moist carrot cake recipe from scratch with homemade cream cheese frosting from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

Easy, moist carrot cake recipe from scratch with homemade cream cheese frosting from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

Easy, moist carrot cake recipe from scratch with homemade cream cheese frosting from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.
Try these recipes and others at a Nordstrom restaurant near you, and find more recipes to make at home in our What’s Cooking series and Nordstrom Cookbooks (available in selected Nordstrom restaurants and Ebars).

Have a favorite dish or beverage from our restaurants or cookbooks that you’d like to see featured? Let us know in the comments!

—Jeff Powell