This tender and moist carrot cake with vanilla cream cheese frosting is by far the best I’ve ever tried. The secret ingredient in this easy step-by-step recipe is olive oil. No white sugar!
First, let me tell you, this carrot cake is my go-to cake. Whatever occasion it is, birthday party, Easter, wedding, day off or just the need to get rid of the carrots that are about to go bad, this cake always comes out perfectly moist, with a rich and deep flavor. The secret here is the use of olive oil instead of generic vegetable oil, used in most recipes. You don’t want to use extra-virgin olive oil for baking. Opt for pure, light or mild types of olive oil that are suitable for cooking and baking, as they have a higher smoke point and have less intense “olive oil” flavor.
Olive oil works as a natural emulsifier, improving the texture and making your cake extra moist and tender, without adding any olive oil flavor to it. Olive oil coats flour proteins, not letting them interact with the liquid and cuts down gluten formation, which means that the cake is less dense and therefore, much more tender.
To make this cake even more moist, I made four layers, so that they soak the cream cheese frosting and taste even better. It requires a bit more of frosting than usually, so I tried to balance the calories by reducing sugar. I can tell you that I didn’t miss sugar in this cake, nor did anyone who tried it.
It’s actually my first experience in making layered cakes, so you can see that it’s really easy to make and you can totally do it! To make it even easier, you can skip the layering and make it one piece, that will save you a lot of time. You can also make two or three layers. The real reason I made a four-layer cake is because I got this cute little cake stand for Christmas and I was dying to bake something small so that it fits. Then I bought a small baking dish of the same size, so the problem was solved and I knew exactly what I would like to bake. And here is the result, a recipe of the most tender and super moist carrot cake with vanilla cream cheese frosting:
Super Moist Carrot Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
For the moist carrot cake:
- 300 grams or 2 1/2 cups flour I used 1:1 ratio of all-purpose to whole wheat flour
- 150 grams or 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2/3 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs at room temperature
- 200 ml or 3/4 cup olive oil (pure light or mild)
- 250 grams or 9 oz carrots about 3-4 medium-sized carrots
- 50 grams or 1.5 oz pecans
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 300 grams or 1 1/2 cup cream cheese e.g. Philadelphia cheese
- 120 grams or 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 50 grams or 3 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 8-12 carrot cake decorations or some pecans to garnish
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, backing soda, apple cider vinegar and salt. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs with olive oil. Grate carrots and add them to the mixture. Chop pecans and add them as well.
- Preheat the oven to 150 °C or 300 °F. Pour the olive oil-carrot mixture into the flour mixture and stir well. Transfer to the backing dish. I used this 16 cm or 6 1/4 inch cake form but you can only fit half of the batter in it, which makes two layers. One more option would be to divide all the ingredients, including frosting in half, in case you want a really small cake. The last option to use a larger form and make it a two-layer cake (in this case, you might want to use less frosting, too).
- Bake for 1 hour in a small form or for 1 hour 20 minutes in a large form. Poke it with a toothpick and if it comes out dry, it's ready. Let cool and cut in half lengthwise, using a ruler if needed. If the surface is not flat, cut the excess off.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese frosting: combine the cream cheese, softened butter, honey and vanilla extract with a hand mixer or food processor.
- Place the first cake layer on cake stand. Spread with 1/4 frosting using a spatula (or with 1/2 if you opt for two layers). Optional: use a pastry bag to spread the frosting around the rim. Top with the next cake layer. Repeat until you are out of layers.
- Decorate with little sugar or marzipan carrots or pecans. Enjoy!
Check out my cashew carrot bites with honey cream for more carrot goodness!