Today I'm sharing Amycakes Bakery's much-loved carrot cake recipe! It is so soft and moist and perfectly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. Fill the quick and easy carrot cake batter with raisins and pecans if you'd like, or leave them out--it's delicious either way!
🥕 About this carrot cake
This cake is going to fill your house with the scent of delicious spices! I like to pair it with my fluffy cinnamon buttercream for a light buttercream with a hint of cream cheese, but it also would go perfectly with a classic cream cheese buttercream or my creamy vanilla bakery buttercream.
At Amycakes Bakery we offered a "deluxe" carrot cake which was filled with juicy raisins and pecans (my favorite), and a "regular" carrot cake that was nut and raisin free. You'll love the super-soft and moist texture of this cake either way.
For a mini version, you've got to try my adorable mini carrot cakes!
🥣 Ingredients (and substitutions)
- Most of my bakery recipes start with the classic baking ingredients of All-purpose flour (I use Gold Medal), Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt, Eggs, Water, and Vanilla Extract.
- We'll be using Brown Sugar which enhances the flavor and texture of the carrot cake.
- You'll also be adding Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix or Instant Clearjel—this is a secret ingredient to a moister cake--the modified cornstarch in these ingredients gives your cake more stability and a softer texture. That's because it allows the cake to retain more moisture while keeping a light texture, keeping your carrot cake moister for longer. Just make sure whichever you use is labeled as INSTANT--you can read more about Instant Clearjel here).
- You may already know how much I love Buttermilk for making moist cakes. While I don’t recommend substituting it, I have heard that thinned sour cream (thinned to the thickness of buttermilk, a thick milk) works similarly.
- I use Salted Butter in all my baked goods for added flavor, but if you need to use unsalted, add ¼ teaspoon salt per stick of butter.
- I recommend using Mini Carrots that are already washed and peeled and ready to use, but you can use any type of peeled carrots in equal parts.
- Crushed Pineapple is another secret ingredient--since we will be pureeing the pineapple with the carrots, most people won't even know that this carrot cake contains pineapple! But it adds so much moisture and flavor to this cake.
📋 Instructions and tips
This easy carrot cake recipe is made without a mixer, which means all you need are two bowls and a whisk to whip it up (it's one of my simple two-bowl method cake recipes).
- Using a food processor, process your carrots and crushed pineapple until the carrots are very small--this will give your cake a lovely soft cake texture.
- Whisk your dry ingredients, then your wet ingredients including the carrot and pineapple purree. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Add the melted butter to the batter and whisk until smooth. Add strained and soaked raisins and pecans to the cake batter, if using.
- Spread the carrot cake batter into a ¼ sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake as instructed.
This cake recipe is versatile--you can grate the carrots and leave the crushed pineapple as-is for a heartier texture. Feel free to add more or additional carrot cake fillings to the batter when adding the raisins and pecans (try adding ¼ cup coconut flakes!).
⭐ Storing and serving the cake
This carrot cake has the best soft texture at room temperature. If you serve it straight from the fridge, the butter within the cake and buttercream frosting will be firm. Here's what I recommend:
- Store the finished frosted carrot cake in the fridge, but remove it 2-3 hours before serving so that it can come back to room temperature (avoid warm temperatures as the buttercream can melt).
- You can freeze the completed carrot cake up to 2 weeks (probably longer), as it freezes very well.
- Cake leftovers can be left out of the fridge for up to 24 hours, stored in an air-tight container.
👩🏻🍳 Tools and equipment
I recommend freezing and layering the cooled cake using the Cut and Stack Method--that means baking the cake in a sheet pan and cutting the cake out with cake rings. Cakes baked in sheet pans have a flatter bake with no doming and no dark edges. You can also choose your cake size after you bake it (learn all the steps here).
💭 Recipe FAQ
Definitely, you can adjust the recipe size within the recipe card--select 2x to double the recipe before printing. Learn about the best cake sizes and cake pan options for each recipe size in How to Bake and Layer Cakes Like a Pro.
Yes, you can! Use a 2-ounce scoop (¼ cup) for standard-sized cupcakes. They typically bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, then turn the oven down to 300 degrees for the remaining 6-10 minutes.
Other Moist Layer Cakes You'll Love
I'd love to hear what you think of this classic moist carrot cake! Comment below or tag me on social media @amycakesbakes! 🙂
Thanks for Reading. ❤️
Deliciously Moist Carrot Cake
- 240 grams (1 ¾ cups + 1 Tablespoon) All-Purpose Flour (I use Gold Medal)
- 43 grams (¼ cup) vanilla instant pudding mix (See Note #1)
- 1 ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- ¾ teaspoon Salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon Nutmeg
- 226 grams (1 cup packed) Brown Sugar
- 142 grams (1 heaping cup) Mini Peeled Carrots
- 67 grams (¼ cup) lightly drained Crushed Pineapple
- ¾ cup Buttermilk
- ¼ cup Water
- 1 ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 2 large Eggs
Other Cake Ingredients
- ¾ stick (3 ounces) salted butter, melted
- ⅓ cup raisins (optional)
- ¼ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Bake the Carrot Cake
- Preheat Oven to 325 degrees. Line a ¼ sheet pan with parchment paper and spray the bottom and sides of the pan with nonstick cooking spary (on top of the parchment paper).
- Place the raisins (if using) in a bowl and cover them in hot or boiling water. Allow to soak for 5 minutes, then strain well.
- Puree the carrots and crushed pineapple together in a food processor until the carrots are very small.
- Sift the Dry Ingredients in a bowl and then whisk until well blended.
- Whisk the Wet Ingredients and the prepared carrot and pineapple puree in a separate bowl until well blended.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk until well blended. Pour the melted salted butter over the batter and whisk until it is fully incorporated and the batter is smooth and shiny. Add the strained raisins and chopped pecans, if using.
- Pour the carrot cake batter into your prepared ¼ sheet pan. Spread the batter out until it is even throughout the pan all the way to the edges--an offset icing spatula works well for this.
- Bake on the middle or top rack (avoid bottom rack) of the preheated 325-degree oven for 18 minutes, then turn the oven down to 300 degrees. Set the timer for an additional 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick or paring knife comes out mostly clean (watch closely towards the end of baking). A couple of moist crumbs on your knife are fine, but they shouldn't look wet.
- The delicate cake will be easiest to layer from cold or frozen--allow the cake to cool, then wrap and freeze the cake in the pan for at least 2 hours or up to 2 weeks ahead of time (brush the cake with simple syrup if freezing for more than a couple of days--see Note # 2).
Layer, Decorate and Serve
- The easiest way to layer the cake is to layer the cake from frozen the day before you plan to serve it. If serving the cake the same day you are layering it, use refrigerated cake layers instead of frozen. Cut the cake layers with cake rings as described in How to Bake and Layer Cakes Like a Pro. Fill each cake layer your choice of buttercream. An offset icing spatula (I use the small and medium-size on all my cakes) helps with this. I recommend frosting a thin crumb coat of buttercream on the outside of the cake which will catch all the crumby edges, then allow it to set up in the freezer for about 10 minutes until the buttercream is firm. The remaining cake scraps can be used for cake truffles if desired. Drizzle with Super Easy Caramel Drizzle, if desired.
- Allow the completed cake to set up in the fridge, but remove it from the fridge 2-3 hours before serving so it can come back to room temperature. This cake has the best texture at room temperature. Enjoy!
Instant Pudding mix contains modified cornstarch (a.k.a. Instant Clearjel), which helps cakes retain more moisture for longer while keeping a soft texture. I use Instant pudding mix in cakes and save my instant clearjel for recipes that don't have an ideal substitute (as described in my Instant Clearjel Shortage Section). However, if you'd prefer to use instant clearjel, it is likely that 1 to 2 Tablespoons will work well (in a 1x batch) in place of the Instant Pudding Mix--I just haven't tested it yet in this recipe
- Simple Syrup is optional, but I use it to seal in the moisture for cakes that will be refrigerated or frozen for more than a couple of days. While the cake cools, make a simple syrup by combining 2 teaspoons water and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until the sugar is dissolved after whisking, about 20-30 seconds. Lightly brush the simple syrup on top of the cake with a silicone pastry brush (you won’t need to use all of it in a 1x batch baked in a ¼ sheet pan). You can also make a larger batch of this (1 part sugar to 1 part water) and keep it in the fridge if you’re doing a lot of cake baking.