The Only Carrot Cake Recipe You Need

I’ve long been on a quest for a delicious carrot cake recipe. Every time a friend requests a carrot cake for some special event or other, I scour the internet and try a new one – and am generally a bit dissatisfied with the taste or texture. Until now.

Smitten Kitchen‘s Carrot Graham Layer Cake is now officially my go-to carrot cake. The texture is lovely, the flavor is rich, and there’s oh, so much cream cheese frosting to go around. (Shockingly, I actually think there’s almost too much frosting – I didn’t even use it all).

I was going over to a friend’s house for New Year’s day black eyed peas (yes, I’m waaaaay behind on my blogging), and wanted to bring something nice. This recipe had been on my to-do list for quite some time, and since I knew Megan both likes carrot cakes and is amenable to kitchen experiments, I decided to give it a go.

Lessons learned on this endeavor – it pays to cut out the parchment paper. Recipes for layer cakes often ask one to cut out a 9-inch round of parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan with, and I usually ignore that (as I did this time). I’ve got two silicone 9 inch pans, and I figured it’d be fine with a bit of baking spray. They were, sort of.

It probably wouldn’t have been a problem if I hadn’t needed to use the pan almost immediately to bake another round (this calls for three layers and I had two pans). Without allowing the cake a whole lot of time to cool, getting it out of the pan was a bit sticky. One of the layers almost fell apart, actually. I covered this up convincingly with ample frosting, but it was a bit dicey for a minute.

The whole thing actually sent me down an internet rabbit hole learning about cake pans and cake strips – which I ordered and plan to test next time I make a layer cake. The neat thing about these strips is they’re supposed to minimize the problem of cakes doming in the center and resulting in wobbly layers. A quick-fix preemtive measure (which I used on this cake) is to spin the pan gently a few times to push some of the batter to the edges. These turned out reasonably even, and stinkin’ delicious.

2016-01-01 Carrot Cake Cut

Carrot Graham Layer Cake (from Smitten Kitchen)

Grade: A+

Cake layers

  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) finely ground graham cracker crumbs, plus extra for decoration if you wish
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or a bunch of gratings of fresh
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (145 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (210 grams) neutral oil or melted butter (i.e. 1 tablespoon short of 1 cup)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups (about 12 3/4 ounces or 360 grams) peeled and grated carrots (2 cups = 8.5 ounces, peeled/grated)


  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (455 grams total)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces or 230 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Visit the original recipe for instructions.

Categories: Cakes

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