Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from David Lebovitz

Carrot cake gives you a wonderful way to smuggle veggies into your diet. However it took me a while to find a perfect recipe for a real carrots-rich cake. I wanted to make an ultra delicious, yet healthy cake with loads of carrots in it. I also wanted my cake to be visually appealing – we do eat with our eyes after all! During my searches I’d bumped into some pathetic recipes calling for 3 medium carrots for the whole cake! That sounds like a carrot cake joke to me, doesn’t it? Other recipes were to rich with overwhelming amounts of butter and sugar. I didn’t want a cake which makes me think I sin when I eat it. Feeling guilt when eating is not what I particularly like. It takes away a joy of consumption. 

Finally, my carrot cake hunt is over. I have an honor to present a wonderfully delicious cake, so good you never would have guessed it’s also quite healthy and definitely not packed with empty calories!

Best quality ingredients are the key to this cake, especially fats like real butter and cold pressed oils. My favorite for this recipe is pumpkin seed oil, which gives an intense nutty taste and a wonderful color. It is however a very expensive ingredient so I usually use it half and half with some cheaper neutral oil like grape seed oil. Do not hesitate to go through extra effort of browning the butter. Browned butter gives deliciously sweet nutty scent, and it’s worth the effort of cleaning one greasy pan more.

Make sure you use a pure cane sugar; also in the form of powder sugar (if you have problems to buy it just grind normal cane sugar in a coffee grinder).

A few words about frosting – all the recipes I had found call for butter. With all my love to butter I honestly think that cream cheese (I’m talking normal one, not a low-fat version) is rich enough. Adding butter is some kind of perversion in this case, I think ;) Well, maybe if the cake is aspiring to be a birthday or a wedding cake, use of butter make sense, otherwise save yourself extra work of mixing butter and cheese together and spare some calories too. It is not worth the effort.

This cake is so healthy that I don’t have any problem to treat my 2 year old with it as an afternoon snack. OK, enough of this cake-talk. Here you go:

One 20-23 cm double layer cake

For the cake layers:

3 large eggs, at room temperature
140 ml vegetable oil
100 ml melted melted brown butter (or more oil)
½ vanilla bean
280 g all-purpose flour
280 g  light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ shredded nutmeg
2 powdered cloves
1 teaspoon salt
400 g grated carrots
50 g raisins (optional)

For the frosting:

500 g cream cheese, at room temperature
250-300 g  powdered sugar, sifted
½ vanilla bean
shredded lemon peel
juice squeezed from 1 lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter two 20-23cm cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

2. To make the cake layers, sift together the flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. With a handheld mixer, beat the eggs until they are pale and frothy (they need not increase dramatically in volume). With the mixer running, drizzle in the oil and melted butter, then the vanilla.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the eggs and mix carefully until just combined.

4. Fold in the carrots and raisins, then divide the batter between the two pans. Bake 30 minutes, until the surface springs back when gently touched. Cool the cakes completely before frosting.

5. To make the frosting, put the cream cheese in the bowl, add the powdered sugar, add the juice from freshly squeezed lemon and mix until light and silky. Add the vanilla.

Serving and Storage: This cake is best served at room temperature but will keep for a few days stored in the refrigerator.


  1. Kochana, mam zamiar upiec jutro. a czy mozna upiec calosc ciasta w jednej blaszce? Pytanie, czy nie bedzie ze ciezkie i nie siadzie? No i czy potem da rade je przekroic? Ale moge oblec frostingiem tylko z zewnatrz.

  2. Mysle ze lepiej jednak upiec dwa razy, to ciezkie ciasto, moze sie nie dopiec w srodku a spalic na zewnatrz... Tez mi szkoda energii na podwojne pieczenie, ale jednak nie ryzykowalabym, kilka razy pieklam podwojnie, az w koncu kupilam sobie druga forme, i teraz problem zostal rozwiazany.

  3. Zrobilam! ale mialam wieksza forme i wyszedl jednowarstwowy. otarta skorke z cytryny wymieszalam z kremem i swietnie to pasuje, bo krem zyskuje na smaku - ma ten aromat. dodalam tez mniej cukru do ciasta - tylko ok. 1/3 szklanki i wedlug mnie jest akurat. to dobra wiadomosc - bo ciasto jest jeszcze zdrowsze :) generalnie super przepis.

    1. Moj przepis opiewa i tak na duzo mniej cukru w stosunku do oryginalu (Lebovitz daje 400g a ja 280g), to twoje musi byc juz mega zdrowe! Ale mysle ze taka redukcja moze uderzac w strukture ciasta... Mam nadzieje ze nie wyszlo zbyt ciezkie!