BAKING cakes and sweet bakes

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

November 17, 2013

I like the idea of a carrot cake more than carrot cake itself. With the warmth of cinnamon, the healthfulness of walnuts and carrots, and the hue of rust-coloured leaves, it quite easily fits the bill for a comforting autumnal treat. It’s perfectly good baked in a loaf pan and sliced as needed, and becomes a bit more indulgent with cream cheese frosting dolloped on.

This past weekend brought the chill with it, so on Saturday we decided to stay in, sip on spiced apple juice, watch Mad Men and bake a carrot cake. Arjun grated the carrots (my least favourite part of baking a carrot cake) and measured the butter while I finished putting together the rest of the things. We baked the cake in a 9 inch square pan to be able to cut them into squares, but you could use any pan – just keep an eye on it because the baking time will vary.

I turned to the Rose Bakery cookbook for their recipe, which worked a treat. What I like most about the recipe is that it’s not overtly sweet. Neither the cake, nor the frosting. The cream cheese frosting has one-third the sugar as most other recipes I’ve seen, including the one for the famous Humming Bird Bakery red velvet cupcake. (And considering the number of visits to the dentists I’ve been making lately, this is some consolation.) Make sure you don’t lick too much of the frosting while making it. It’s going to be hard to stop.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 16-20

Adapted from: Breakfast, Lunch and Tea (USA | UK | India) Makes: 1 9 inch square tin

Note: I use a scale and stick to the metric measures (and I implore you to do the same). The cup measures listed below are those that are given in the cookbook. I'm not a fan of recipes that read "1 rounded teaspoon" - I have interpreted that as something that's about 1 1/4th teaspoon, 6.125g. However, I wasn't certain if that wouldn't be enough given the 5 carrots weighing down the cake and making it dense, so I went ahead and used 1 Alsa sachet (11g) of baking powder and it worked beautifully. I also used peanut oil instead of sunflower oil because that's what I had at hand.


    Carrot Cake
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g (1 cup) sugar
  • 300g (1 1/4th cup) peanut oil
  • 4-5 medium carrots, grated
  • 300g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 11g baking powder
  • 4g (1/2 tsp) baking soda
  • 4g (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 150g ( 1 1/2 cup) walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • Frosting
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 250g cream cheese
  • Vanilla or lemon rind for flavouring
  • 50-75g icing sugar (based on taste)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Butter and line a 9 inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Then, sieve it at least once (I do it thrice - especially for cakes known to result in a dense texture).
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl until paler in colour and quite frothy.
  4. Next, pour in the oil and continue to beat for a few minutes.
  5. Mix in the grated carrots, then fold in the flour mixture followed by the walnuts.
  6. Pour the cake batter into the cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. For the frosting, it's best to have all the ingredients at room temperature first. Beat the butter until smooth ( beurre pommade - as the French say to associate it with the texture of an ointment). Next, add the cream cheese and continue to beat until smooth. Add the flavouring, if using. And then whisk in the icing sugar.
  8. When the cake has cooled completely, frost it with the cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with crushed pistachios if you like.


  • Reply srividya Padmanabhan November 18, 2013 at 12:54 PM


    Are there any alternatives for peanut oil or will that be the best one to use to enhance perfect flavours.

    • Reply Shaheen November 18, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      Sunflower or canola oil would work too. If you want to enhance flavour, maybe you could use all or part walnut oil too?

  • Reply Mimi November 18, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Beautiful! A nice alternative to a pumpkin treat!

  • Reply Shalini Chaturvedi November 18, 2013 at 7:14 PM

    I love this cake and yours looks absolutely scrumptious! I’ve been dying to try this out but I was wondering if you can use Britannia cream cheese for the frosting…Philadelphia’s a tad expensive and I’m not sure about the difference.

    • Reply Shaheen November 18, 2013 at 7:53 PM

      Don’t use Britannia – it’s too salty for this.

  • Reply 12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 1: Orange Almond Olive-Oil Cake | Sugar, Spice, Etc October 12, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    […] the cream cheese frosting recipe, I used purplefoodie’s. For cream cheese frosting proportions and how-to, look no further than Joy The Baker’s Cream […]

  • Reply Mini June 8, 2015 at 1:56 PM

    Made this yesterday, turned out swell. Used Britannia cream cheese which comes in 180gm packs so adjusted the rest of the frosting ingredients accordingly. It was absolutely delicious – loved the lemon zest. Just wanted to point out that this amount of frosting was quite a bit and have quite a lot left so wanted to use it for red velvet cake — what’s the difference in taste between this recipe and the one on the red velvet cupcake page, also the method is different?

    • Reply Shaheen June 8, 2015 at 2:53 PM

      Not much of a difference in the results, just two different recipes from different sources. You could use either.

  • Reply mooshka August 1, 2015 at 12:21 PM

    Hi Shaheen
    Thanks for the carrot cake recipe, I baked it and really enjoyed it . the only problem I had was with the oil. I used 1 1/4th cup sunflower oil – but it was about 200 gr not 300!!!- and while eating the cake, i could taste the oil which wasn’t pleasant. Can I use melted butter instead of oil so that the cake doesn’t taste like oil, and if yes, how much butter should i use?
    Also, i want to know if reducing the amount of oil or butter to 3/4th/1 cup will cause any problem?

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