This is my mom’s super moist carrot cake, passed down to her from her mom, and it’s my most treasured family heirloom recipe. It’s incredibly flavorful, dense but airy, with rich, robust flavor. It’s the first, last, and best carrot cake recipe you’ll ever need.
Before becoming a food blogger, I had no clue there was an intense debate raging on the interwebs regarding the seasonality of carrot cake. It is an Easter dessert? A Thanksgiving offering? Both? Neither?
Here’s my two cents. It’s cake. Cake is good. All happy occasions deserve good treats. Ergo, carrot cake is appropriate…anytime. Yes? Oh yes.
This is my mother’s carrot cake recipe. There is nary an occasion to pass in her home that doesn’t include this cake – Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, Easter, baby showers, rainy days, snowy days, a Tuesday…any day is a good day for carrot cake.
Her version, passed down to her from her mother (a classic southern home cook), is the bomb. I’m not being the least bit histrionic when I tell you it’s the most dense, moist, flavorful carrot cake recipe you’ll ever need. It’s cake crack.
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Mom’s Super Moist Carrot Cake Recipe Notes
Despite it’s name, there isn’t a single thing healthy when it comes to this carrot cake, unless we’re discussing mental health and in that case, this cake will certainly do you good. That being said, I did manage to sneak in a wee bit of nutrition by using insanely fresh carrots and pastured eggs, both courtesy of my winter CSA pick-up this past weekend. I just can’t help myself.
I also prepare mom’s super moist carrot cake with avocado oil, which is loaded with lots of healthy fats. You can absolutely use canola oil or another inexpensive, neutral oil. But it’s still not healthy. And that’s totally fine.
Now, let’s get baking! Whip out your box grater and grate up some carrots using the larger holes. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but you don’t want super fine carrot pieces for this carrot cake. There’s a ton of moisture in this recipe, and super fine carrots will only make the cake soggy and wet. Bigger is better.
Grab your stand mixer, hand mixer and a bowl, or a whisk and wooden spoon. I’ve used all three methods, and they all turn out beautifully. Sift together the flour, baking soda and power, salt and cinnamon, and then whisk in the sugar. I don’t bake enough to necessitate the care and storage of a sifter, so I just use a fine mesh strainer. It gets the job done.
Add the oil and beat on low until just barely incorporated. This is a recurring note throughout the recipe – only mix as much as you have to, using as little speed as possible to get the job done. You don’t want to overmix the recipe because this will give the finished cake a flat, chewy texture. Next add the eggs, one at a time, beating for just a few seconds before adding the next egg. (Sidebar – let’s stop for a moment to admire how much color those farm fresh orange yolks add to the batter!)
To finish up, you’ll add a scant cup of crushed canned pineapple, coconut flakes, and the grated carrots. Give it a little mix, and then pour into a buttered and floured square or rectangular cake pan.
A couple notes on cake pans:
- First, silicone pans are rad, but they still need to be buttered and floured (sorry y’all, it’s true).
- Second, this batter is super heavy. In retrospect I should have use a metal pan for that reason, but I don’t have one, so silicone it is. If you’re using a silicone pan, place it on a baking sheet so that it doesn’t flop and slosh around while you’re transferring to and fro the oven.
- Lastly, if you’re an OCD perfectionist like me and you prefer your cakes to bake flat, try these Evenbake Cake Strips. You soak them in water, then wrap them around the cake. In some crazy twist of science, they help the cake baking more evenly.
This cake bakes for at least 40 minutes in a 350* oven, but it could take over an hour if you’re using a square pan (because it will be thicker). Start testing it around that mark by pressing two fingers in the center of the cake. If it springs back, it’s ready. My mom bakes her cake in a 9 x 13″ pan and it generally takes 40-45 minutes. I bake mine in a 9 x 9″ pan, and don’t check on it until the 55 minute mark. This round it baked for 66 minutes.
While the cake is baking, make your frosting. This is a very dense, rich cream cheese frosting that comes out soft and gooey, and therefore melts over the side of each slice. I like it this way because I’m an icing-with-a-side-of-cake kind of lady. If you prefer an icing with more structure, use 1.5 bricks of cream cheese instead of 2 and chill the icing in the fridge for about an hour, giving it a quick mix once you’re ready to ice.
Mom’s super moist carrot cake y’all. Perfect for Thanksgiving Day, or any other day.
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Mom's Super Moist Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
My mom's recipe for classic carrot cake is rich and incredibly moist, topped with gooey cream cheese frosting. It's the best recipe for carrot cake you'll ever make!
- 2 c all purpose flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1.5 tsp baking soda
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 2 c sugar
- 1.5 c neutral oil such as canola or avocado oil
- 4 eggs
- 2 c grated carrots
- 7 oz canned crushed pineapple (a scant 1 cup)
- 3.5 oz flaked coconut (a heaping 1 cup)
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese at room temperature
- 1.5 sticks butter at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1.5 - 2 lb confectioners sugar
Preheat the oven to 350* and place a rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flour a 9 x 13” baking dish or a 9 x 9” square cake pan and set aside. Alternatively, line the cake pans with parchment paper.
Trim and peel the carrots, then finely grate using a box grater and set aside. Note: you can use a food processor to grate the carrots, but know that the finished cake will have a softer consistency with more moisture.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar and whisk until incorporated. Switch to to the paddle attachment. Add the oil and mix on low speed until incorporated. With the motor running continuously on low, add the eggs, one at a time, pausing for a few seconds in between each egg. Turn off the motor and add the carrots, pineapple, and coconut to the bowl. Mix on low until just barely incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish or cake pans. If using a 9 x 13” pan, bake for 40 minutes, then check for doneness. If using a 9 x 9” pan, bake for 60 minutes, then check for doneness. To check for doneness, press the center of the cake with two fingers - it’s ready when it gently springs back. (Note: the pineapple will make the cake very moist, so depending on the humidity of your kitchen, cooking time may exceed one hour.) Remove from the oven, place on the counter and allow to cool in the pan for 25-30 minutes or until cool to the touch. It can then be further cooled at room temperature or transferred to the fridge.
While the cake is baking and/or cooling, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the cream cheese and butter and beat at medium speed until smooth and incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Switch to low speed and add the confectioners sugar, half a cup at a time, until you reach your preferred consistency. The frosting may be used as-is and will be soft and gooey. If you prefer a firm consistency, chill the frosting at least 1 hour. When you are ready to frost, whip the frosting with a rubber spatula to warm it up a bit, then frost the cake.
This cake serves 16 and can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 48 hours, or chilled in the fridge for up to a week.
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