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This one layer carrot cake is super moist, wonderfully spiced, and perfect for smaller gatherings and celebrations. Topped with sweet, tangy cream cheese frosting and toasted pecans, it’s love at first bite.
While I love yellow cake, strawberry cake, and chocolate cake, nothing compares to carrot. There’s something simply magical about it– the texture! the flavor! the cream cheese frosting! Each bite is pure bliss and it will forever be my favorite kind of cake.
On my blog we’ve made a few variations of carrot cake including pineapple carrot cake, coconut carrot cake cupcakes, cheesecake swirl carrot Bundt cake, classic layered carrot cake, and today’s single layer carrot cake. Let’s get started!
Why You’ll Love this One Layer Carrot Cake
- Ultra moist
- Perfectly spiced and so flavorful
- Easy to prepare, no mixer required
- Not too big– great for smaller gatherings
- No complicated assembly or decorating
- Topped with cream cheese frosting
Overview: How to Make One Layer Carrot Cake
Today’s recipe is pretty similar to my classic carrot cake— that one is a little larger (great for sharing) and I add ginger. You can certainly add ginger to this recipe, I recommend about 1/2 teaspoon. Both are incredibly moist and flavorful, everything a carrot cake should be!
- Mix the wet ingredients together. This includes brown sugar for sweetness, oil for moisture, a softer crumb, and flavor, yogurt for moisture, eggs to bind everything together, and vanilla extract for flavor. In my recipe testing, I found that brown sugar yields a much softer and more moist cake than when using granulated sugar. Plus, I love the taste that the molasses from the brown sugar adds.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together. All-purpose flour serves as the cake’s structure, baking soda helps the cake rise, cinnamon and nutmeg add warm, cozy flavor, and salt offsets the sweetness.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Mix until just combined and all flour pockets are gone– do not overmix.
- Fold in the carrots and pecans. Make sure the carrots are finely shredded– you don’t want huge chunks of carrot in the batter. Carrots are a sweeter vegetable and act more as a sweetener than a flavoring agent. This cake does not taste like carrots! (Just like how my chocolate zucchini cake doesn’t taste like vegetables.) Pecan pieces are optional, but I can’t imagine carrot cake without them. They don’t stay crunchy inside the baked cake– instead, they soften up but still provide a nice texture against the cake’s crumb.
- Bake. Pour the cake batter into a 9 or 10 inch round springform pan. We need a large pan for all of this batter. A regular 9 or 10 inch cake pan is not big enough and the cake will overflow. This cake takes about 32-38 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Make the cream cheese frosting. I usually do this while the cake cools.
- Frost completely cooled cake.Slice and enjoy!
My #1 Baking Tip for Carrot Cake
My #1 tip for carrot cakes is toshred whole carrots at home. Do not use packaged pre-shredded carrots because they are hard and dry. You need about 3-4 large carrots for this recipe. And when you grate them, you’ll notice how wet they are. That is PRIME moisture for your baked cake and you don’t want to skip it!
Cream Cheese Frosting
It wouldn’t be carrot cake without a swirl of cream cheese frosting on top! We use the same cream cheese frosting on red velvet cake, pumpkin cake, and banana cake. It’s so smooth, tangy, and glides on the cake seamlessly. I call it spreadable cheesecakeand it tastes unbelievable with this cake’s deep spice flavor.
Ingredients:You need block-style cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, a splash of heavy cream (or milk), vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. The salt helps offset the sweetness.
Frosting this cake requires minimal time and effort. Just spoon it onto the center of the cake and swirl it around– you could frost the sides but I chose not to. There is a lot of frosting, so layer it on nice and thick. Use toasted pecans, coconut, raisins, or even more shredded carrots to decorate!
Make scrumptious carrot cake at home with this easy recipe. Super moist and super flavorful!
- 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) vegetable oil*
- 1/4 cup (60g) Greek yogurt*
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour ()
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (260g) very finely grated carrots
- 3/4 cup pecan pieces
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces (224g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2–2.5 cups (240-300g) confectioners’ sugar
- 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) heavy cream*
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray 9 or 10inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. I do not recommend a regular circle or square pan, as the cake may rise above. Set aside.
- Set out the cream cheese for the frosting so it may soften as you make the cake batter.
- Make the carrot cake: In a large bowl with a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed, combine the brown sugar and oil. Beat in the yogurt until fully combined – about 60 seconds. Mixture will be gritty and thick. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. With a spatula, manually stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and all flour pockets are gone – do not overmix. Fold in the finely shredded carrots and pecan pieces. Pour or spoon batter into prepared springform pan.
- Bake cake for 32-38 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake, which will dry out cake. Check the cake at 30 minutes, then again at 32. My cake took exactly 34 minutes. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting: beat the softened cream cheese and butter together on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until soft, creamy, and combined thoroughly. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat until thick and combined. Add 2 Tablespoons heavy cream and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes. Add more powdered sugar until desired thickness is reached. Add salt to taste. I used 1/8 teaspoon to cut the sweetness.
- Store cake in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead Instructions: Carrot cake tastes best the next day after the flavors have settled and have gotten friendly with one another. It is also more moist on the 2nd day as well.
- Oil: You can also use melted coconut oil or canola oil.
- Yogurt: You can also use regular yogurt– plain or vanilla.
- Heavy Cream: I strongly suggest using heavy cream in the cream cheese frosting recipe. Using milk or half-and-half will produce a less creamy and thinner frosting.
- Raisins: If you’d like to add raisins to the batter, I suggest using 2/3 cup of raisins and 2/3 cup of chopped pecans. If you’d like to only use raisins, I suggest 3/4 cup of raisins.
- Cupcakes: This recipe also can be made into 12 cupcakes. Bake time is 17-18 minutes.
- Layer Cake: Try my favorite layered carrot cake recipe.
Keywords: carrot cake, one layer carrot cake
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I’ve made this one before, and we loved it! This time, the husband wants me to add chocolate chips. Can I sub them for the walnuts without caution?
Hi Allie, that will work just fine!
Can this be made in a 9×13 pan?
Hi Connie, we recommend using this carrot cake recipe instead. See recipe notes there for 9×13 instructions!
Hi Sally. I want to try this recipe but I have 8inch pans. Can I use them for this recipe?(Video) Carrot Cake Cupcakes | Sally's Baking Recipes
Hi Norma! You can make a layered carrot cake with this recipe with your 8 inch pans. Your layers will be a bit thicker (the recipe is written for 9 inch pans) so they might take an extra minute or two in the oven. Enjoy!
hi! i’m making this for my brothers bday and he (sadly) doesn’t like pecans, any way i can omit them without changing the batter too much?
Hi Fran, you can omit the pecans without any other changes to the recipe. Hope your brother enjoys the cake!
Hi! i dont have any joghurt or sour cream at home, could i use soy joghurt? thanks!
We haven’t tested that substitution but let us know if you do! A thicker yogurt would work best.
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Carrot cake is oil-based, rather than butter-based. This keeps it moist and helps it last for days. Unfortunately, it also means you lose the leavening power that creaming butter and sugar would bring. (Creaming, or beating together the two ingredients on high speed, aerates the butter.)
The ratio of wet to dry ingredients determines a cake's moisture level. If there's simply too much flour and not enough butter, a cake will taste dry. On the other hand, if there's too much milk and not enough flour, a cake will taste too wet.
Powder. Half a teaspoon of baking soda. As well half a teaspoon of salt i'll put in a full teaspoon
Storing frosted cut cake: store in the fridge covered with plastic wrap or in a cake caddy for roughly 2-3 days. You can also cover exposed cake with frosting to seal in moisture. The freeze: Wrap unfrosted individual cake layers in plastic wrap then aluminum foil.
For example, replace water for whole milk, milk for heavy or whipped cream, granulated sugar for brown sugar, or use real butter instead of margarine to achieve the perfect texture of the cake. Sweeteners like honey, corn syrup, and molasses help retain moisture inside the cakes, so they stay fresh longer.
1/2 cup of liquid cooking oil equals approximately 2/3 cup of butter.