A classic carrot cake is a delicious cake to make anytime of year. My favourite ever recipe has had a facelift and features warming spices, orange zest, and crunchy chopped walnuts and pecans. This beautiful cake has been sandwiched together with a signature cream cheese frosting that everyone loves!

Want to see me make this cake? See how to decorate it here.

Carrot Cake

Ingredients and alternatives:

  • Nuts: personally, I like a mix of walnuts and pecans for flavour and crunch. If you prefer one over the other you can either use 100g of walnuts or 100g pecans in this recipe. Got a nut allergy? Leave them out completely.
  • Eggs: you can use two medium eggs instead of large eggs in this recipe.
  • Carrots: you’ll need 100g whole carrots, which is roughly 1 medium-sized carrot.
  • Banana: the banana gives this cake a beautiful moisture, and a slight sweetness. If you prefer, you can simply use 250g carrot in this recipe instead of the bananas.
  • Flour: I don’t like to substitute self-raising flour for plain, but if you have to simply add 2 teaspoons of baking powder for every 150g of plain flour. In this case, you’ll need an additional 3 level teaspoons of baking powder.
  • Sunflower oil: canola or rapeseed oil are good alternatives for sunflower oil in this recipe. You could also use coconut oil too.
  • Spices: other warming spices like nutmeg, allspice or cloves can be switched in. If you’re using cloves or nutmeg, bring the quantities down to 1/4 of a teaspoon so they’re not overpowering.
  • Sugar: light brown sugar works well, however if you’re after a stronger flavour with more pronounced caramel undertones, you could also switch in dark brown or dark muscovado sugar instead.
Carrot Cake

Top 5 tips for making the perfect cream cheese frosting:

Have you ever had issues making cream cheese frosting at home? Does it turn runny, or lumpy? Here are my five top tips to make the perfect thick and smooth cream cheese frosting:

  1. The best ingredient to use? Full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese.
  2. Beat the butter on its own for 3-5 minutes first to ensure it’s pliable, smooth and creamy.
  3. Sift the icing sugar to ensure you don’t get lumps in your mixture.
  4. Your cream cheese should be cold! Make sure it’s added straight from the fridge.
  5. Gently fold in the cream cheese using a rubber spatula. Beating it will cause it to loosen ending with a runny icing!

Help! I over-whipped my frosting!

Ok, don’t panic. There are ways to fix frosting that’s too runny, but adding more icing sugar is a big no-no! Adding more icing sugar will make your frosting far too sweet. Instead, place it in the fridge for at least an hour and it should stiffen up.

Carrot Cake

Want to adapt this carrot cake recipe?

I can confirm that this is by far my favourite carrot cake recipe to date. The bananas make it beautifully moist, while the crunchy walnuts and buttery pecans make it deliciously moreish. Saying that, if you want to mix things up, here are a few ways I recommend altering the recipe:

1. If you’re not a fan of icing, halve the ingredients and simply fill and top your cake, leaving the sides naked.
2. Love sultanas? Add 50g at step 3 of this recipe 😊
3. Crown your cake with orange zest, or a dusting of ground cinnamon.
4. Make candied walnuts or pecans to sprinkle on top. Simply toss 50g of nuts in 25ml maple syrup and tip them onto the lined baking sheet. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until golden. Leave to cool completely before adding to your cake.
5. Swap the bananas for 150g fresh or canned pineapple (drained). It’ll give your cake moisture with a twist on flavour.

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

A deliciously moist layer cake that's crammed with spices, zesty orange, pecans, walnuts and juicy sultanas. Perfect for afternoon tea, or an Easter dessert.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 8 slices


For the cake

  • 225 g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 150 g light muscovado sugar
  • 50 g walnuts roughly chopped
  • 50 g pecans roughly chopped
  • 50 g sultanas
  • 100 g grated carrot
  • 2 medium bananas mashed (around 150g)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150 ml sunflower oil
  • Zert one orange
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing

  • 175 g full-fat cream cheese
  • 100 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 200 g icing sugar sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


To make the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 20cm deep round cake tin with baking parchment.
  • In a stand mixer, or using an electric whisk, beat the sugars and the eggs until pale and creamy, then add the sunflower oil and vanilla extract and beat again until incorporated.
  • Fold in the orange zest, mashed banana, grated carrots, nuts and sultanas using a rubber spatula.
  • Measure the flour, baking power, pinch of salt and spices into a separate bowl and combine before tipping the dry ingredients into wet ingredients, mixing until entirely combined – either using your stand mixer, or your spatula.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl, mix again and then measure into the two prepared cake tins.
  • Level the surface and bake for 50-60mins, until well risen. Insert a wooden skewer into the centre to test if it's ready. If it comes out clean you know it's good to go. If it's still wet inside, leave it longer in the oven. You can place silver foil on top of the cake to prevent the top from burning at all. 
  • Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

To make the icing

  • To make the icing, whip the butter until soft, creamy and pliable.
  • Sift in the icing sugar, mixing on a low speed until entirely combined, then add the vanilla extract and beat again.
  • Add your cream cheese straight from the fridge, folding in with a spatula (rather than using your stand mixer or electric whisk).
  • Place the icing in the fridge to firm up for at least 30 minutes. Slice the tops of your cakes so they're levelled out.
  • Top one layer with 1/3 of the icing and place the other half on top. Spread the rest of the icing over the tops and sides, then decorate with pecan halves, slice and serve.
Keyword cake, carrot, cinnamon, cream cheese, layer cake, nuts, orange, pecans, walnuts

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