Cakes / Recipe

Carrot Cake Recipe

This carrot cake recipe is filled with ruby red cranberries, orange zest, and coconut. It’s flavorful, textured, and delicious!

Carrot Cake Recipe |

On Wednesday morning, white, billowy snow blanketed our neighborhood like a mother settling her child into bed. The snow was untouched; unbothered. It softly summoned children of all ages to play outside, but the cold wind was enough for people to go back into the warmth of their home. A brief glance at the snow was enough for me to brew up some tea and bake a couple loaves of carrot cake (onto the carrot cake recipe in a minute) to keep warm. My family slept in; I answered a few emails while sipping tea and reading the New York Times. It was the start to a perfect morning.

After settling into the morning, I quietly made my way into the kitchen and flipped through the pages of my journal. My journal is full of recipes, recipe ideas, and post ideas (Yes, my life screams “food blogger” except the bags of Swedish Fish that hide in the baking cupboard. You didn’t hear that from me.) It’s where I go when I am in need of inspiration in the kitchen. Wednesday morning was in need of a little inspiration, and after flipping a few pages into the journal, orange flecks of dry carrot stuck on one of the pages immediately caught my attention. On the page: a recipe for carrot cake. Immediately, my memory took me back to 2009 when the recipe was written down. I grabbed the carrots out of the refrigerator, the box grater from the cupboard, and immediately began to grate the carrots for this carrot cake recipe. Sure, the grating can be done in a food processor, but why wash more dishes than needed? Plus, the simple motion of grating carrots is quite therapeutic, if you ask me.

Carrot Cake Recipe |

The first time I bit into this carrot cake (over two years ago), the crumb, and the moistness immediately made my mouth bellow out for several more bites. The cake is bejeweled with ruby red dried cranberries, orange zest, toasted walnuts and pecans, coconut (for some flavor, texture, and for a bit of natural sweetness), and of course, a warm heaping teaspoon of cinnamon (for the warmth that any snowy winter day beckons for).

The cake is quite basic, and requires no machinery whatsoever, which is perfect for mornings that require you to make very little noise in the kitchen, while your family sleeps. Don’t you love the sound of silence?

The list of ingredients for this recipe is rather large, I will admit. Five of them, including: the orange zest, coconut, walnuts, pecans, and dried cranberries, can be easily left out and will make a lovely cake. In fact, sometimes, I prefer the cake unadorned with a generous amount of sweet, zingy cream cheese frosting (which I think it’s one of best features of this particular type of cake).

Carrot Cake Recipe |

After baking the cake, you should let the cake cool. I have very little patience for the cooling process, so I just pop the cakes (in their tins) in the freezer for approximately 15-30 minutes until they are cooled. See? It’s like magic!

Once the cakes are cooled and frosted, I like to cover them with plastic wrap (in their tins) and keep them in the refrigerator for 24 hours, so that the flavors amalgamate with one another. Try not to be impatient (I know I am) and slice into the loaves ahead of time. Everything tastes great the same day, but trust me on this- this cake tastes best the second day.

Carrot Cake Recipe |

Once the second day comes around, you will thank me. Now that you have a recipe, my friends, have fun baking and remember that patience is a virtue, but if you don’t have any patience (like me), don’t worry, the cake still tastes great!

Carrot Cake Recipe
Inspired by Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours
Makes two 8×4-inch loaf cakes or a two-layer 8-inch cake

This carrot cake tastes best after it is frosted, covered, and chilled in the refrigerator overnight or for 24 hours. It even tastes great cold. Oh yes, cold carrot cake is a religious experience- the juxtaposition in the temperature and flavor of the cake is simply extraordinary.

Once again, I am utilizing Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and Natural Cane Sugar in the recipe, it gives the cake a quality and taste that I love, but I have easily used All-Purpose Flour and granulated sugar (or a combination of granulated sugar and light brown sugar) to make this recipe- and both versions taste great.

The recipe calls for sunflower oil, but you can easily use any neutral tasting oil (i.e. Safflower, Corn. Canola, Vegetable. . .)

The frosting is enough for the tops of two 8×4-inch loaf cakes. It may not be enough for an two-layer 8-inch cake, so doubling the icing recipe maybe necessary. Additionally, the frosting recipe is very flexible. If you want more of a citrusy frosting going on, simply leave out the butter, add in two teaspoons of orange juice and some orange zest (I wouldn’t use too much, but if you want something with a lot of punch, use as much as you’d like).

1 cup (128 grams) Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (or All-Purpose Flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon (preferably freshly ground)
Zest of one orange (optional)
Scant (a little less than) ½ teaspoon (2 grams) fine grain sea salt
1 ½ cups (135 grams) coarsely grated carrots [I use the coarser side of the box grater or the food processor fitted with the shredding blade]

½ cup + 2 tablespoons (54 grams) shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened) (optional)
¼ cup coarsely chopped pecans (toasted or un-toasted) (optional)
¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (toasted or un-toasted) (optional)
2 tablespoons (16 grams) dried sweetened cranberries, finely chopped (optional)

¼ cup sunflower oil (refer to headnotes for alternatives)
1 cup (220 grams) natural cane sugar (or granulated sugar; or a combination of granulated and light brown)
¼ cup organic plain whole milk yogurt

2 large eggs

Cream Cheese Frosting (for an alternative; read headnotes):
1 cup powdered sugar
2 ½ tablespoons butter
8 ounces cream cheese


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour (or use parchment paper) two 8×4-inch loaf pans (or two 8-inch round cake pans).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, orange zest and salt. In another bowl, mix together: the carrots, coconut, pecans, walnuts, and dried cranberries.

In a large bowl, with a spatula or whisk, combine the oil and sugar together (until all of the sugar has been coated with oil). Once the sugar and oil have been combined, whisk in the yogurt until the mixture is smooth [Kamran note: if you rub a small amount of the mixture between your fingers, everything might still be gritty, but once the eggs are added, it should smooth out]. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until the batter is smooth.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir evenly. Gently fold in the carrot mixture, and divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until well-risen and firm to the touch (the cakes will have began to slightly separate from the sides of the pans), or until a cake tester or a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean.

Cool the cakes (in their pans) on cooling racks (or place in the freezer for 15 – 30 minutes) [Kamran Note: The cakes (alone) can be wrapped well in plastic wrap and kept in the freezer for about a month or two]

Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese, butter, and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl, and beat until smooth.

Frost the tops of the cakes, cover with plastic wrap, place in the refrigerator for 24 hours . [Kamran Note: If you are making a two-layer 8-inch round cake, be sure to double the frosting recipe. To frost the layer cake, use an off-set spatula, spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides of the layer cake. Let the frosting set in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes; then, spread a thick coat over the base coat.]

After 24 hours, serve the cake and enjoy!


  • Jessica @ How Sweet
    January 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    This carrot cake recipe has always looked fabulous to me. I have been dying to make it too, just never tried yet. The frosting is making my mouth water!

    • kamran
      January 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm

      I literally threw the frosting together in a bowl and made sure I measured. It’s VERY different from the one that Dorie has in her book, but I love the whiteness of it and the zingyness (I totally make up words!) of it. Soo delish, especially when you add the citrus!

  • Kristen
    January 14, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I’m in a “screw this diet” kind of mood. Love it!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    January 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    all i want is to eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. is that so bad?

    • kamran
      January 14, 2011 at 9:00 pm

      I don’t blame you. I ate an entire loaf pan by myself.

  • art and lemons
    January 14, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    love the simplicity of this recipe and the connection it offers in stirring the entire cake by hand. what diet? bring it on!

  • joy the baker
    January 14, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    oh ma goodness. i love these shots!!

  • Kulsum at Journey Kitchen
    January 14, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    This looks Kamran!I’m loving the coconut, pecan and walnuts in there even though I would leave out the cranberries!

  • Sheena
    January 14, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    I agree, carrot cake is best eaten cold. I love the sound of this recipe and the photos are simply gorgeous!

  • Rachael @ Tokyo Terrace
    January 14, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    This looks heavenly, Kamran! Beautiful photos and a rustically gorgeous recipe. A great read for my Saturday morning, too :)

  • Merry Jennifer
    January 14, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Oh, Kamran. Your photos of this cake are stunning. I love carrot cake, but my favorite part of carrot cake is rich cream cheese frosting. I’m pretty sure I’d never make it to day 2 with this recipe. :)

  • Angela@spinachtiger
    January 14, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    I can almost smell all those ingredients coming together. How wonderful your kitchen must have been on that morning.

  • christelle is flabbergasting
    January 14, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Carrot cake: one of my mother’s favourite! It brings back a lot of memories…Cinnamon with carrot: what a brillant mix! I never eat one with coconut or dried cranberries but I’ll definitely try it next time… and with frosting of course! Thanks for sharing!

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food
    January 15, 2011 at 7:09 am

    One of my childhood memories was going into my grandfather’s office (he had his own practice as a pediatrician) and all of the nurses would feed me carrot cake. It was like anything I had ever had before and I loved it. This just put a huge smile on my face.

    Lovely post, Kamran!

  • Helene
    January 15, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I bet you must have lot’s of recipes in your journal. Carrot cake has been one of my favorite cakes of all time. I tried several recipes over the years. Love to eat it with lot’s of cream cheese frosting. Thanks for the recipe :)

  • Sally
    January 15, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I’m with you on the theraputic nature of repetitive tasks in the kitchen. Music on – box grater out – burns up some calories for later cake-eating justification too.

  • dorie
    January 15, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Lovely pictures and I really like that you made the cake in a loaf — so nice.

    • kamran
      January 18, 2011 at 12:30 am

      thanks so much dorie!

  • heather
    January 15, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    If you can believe it, I’ve eaten several varieties of carrot cake, but never one with the coconut, dried fruit or nuts in it. Crazy! Though I think it would be great with those additions, and I love the orange zest in the cake batter. I should dive in…



  • Chelsey (Cookteen)
    January 16, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I love carrot cake, this one looks amazing!

  • Alyce Morgan
    January 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    This does look yummy, but I also like simple carrot loaf cake without frosting-just lots of spice. I thought I’d mention, as a long-time carrot cake baker, that if you grate the carrots in the food processor, it creates too much liquid. That results in a cake that falls in the middle. The box grater doesn’t do that; the grated carrots just stay drier. Lovely pics….Keep baking– You’ll always have lots of friends! Sing a new song, Alyce

    • kamran
      January 18, 2011 at 12:39 am

      I have never had that problem when using the grating attachment on my food processor, but I would definitely assume that if people used any other attachment on their food processor (i.e. the chopping attachment) that would create a great deal of liquid and carrot “mush.”

  • vanessa
    January 17, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Carrot cake is the only cake I enjoy! I love your wood table!

  • Jess
    January 17, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    I’m diggin the multi-pictures! It’s like we’re actually in your kitchen, learning.
    Jess : )

  • Jennifer @ Savory Simple
    January 18, 2011 at 12:47 am

    Lovely photos as usual! I love carrot cake, just made some today!

  • cecedon
    January 18, 2011 at 12:59 am

    This looks heavenly. I have a special place in my heart for cream cheese frosting and I may have to make a batch of this for my kids, they will love it! Gorgeous pictures.

  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction
    January 18, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Oooh.. Yum! My hubby loves carrot cake. I’ll have to make this for him, because it looks divine!

  • Prerna@IndianSimmer
    January 20, 2011 at 1:07 am

    I love the shabby n chic look on your photos Kamran!
    That carrot cake btw is Mmm mmm :-)

  • Joy
    January 21, 2011 at 2:13 am

    Yum, yum, yum! I totally get you on the therapeutic benefits of grating carrots and having a no-machine-needed recipe for quiet baking. I love the manual aspect of both. :)

  • Angela
    January 21, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Your writing style is beautiful! It really develops a clear image in my mind – the snow day may have been more vivid because we just had a snowfall here, but your style made it so real.

    Thank you!

  • Soma
    January 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Your space rocks!! so glad i found it. As for this carrot cake, i don’t think i have heard of a better version. I do add cranberries (as I like them better than raisins), but the coconut sounds AMAZING!

  • Belinda @zomppa
    January 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Great to be connected! Ah, I just left that lovely blanket of snow. And nothing wrong with Swedish Fish. I keep a jar of gummies.

  • Patricia Scarpin
    January 22, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I bought carrots to make Nigella’s Venetian carrot cake and now you have made me so undecided. ;)

    This is luscious! Looks delicious.

  • Anna Johnston
    January 25, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    What a awesome carrot cake, love it. The snow sounds wonderful to this sweltering in the summer temperatures in Australia (36C today) – I imagine quietly baking this cake with the silence of snow outside…, lovely visual. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nisrine
    January 26, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Wonderful recipe. Carrot cake is my favorite. I had it for my wedding and every birthday for the last couple of years.

  • Farmgirl Susan
    January 29, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Yum! I love the idea of using whole wheat flour and all the extras added in. I’m intrigued, too, that just 1 cup of flour makes two cakes. And of course cream cheese frosting is one of the world’s greatest inventions. Bookmarking now! :)

  • Beth
    February 3, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    My husband turns 30 in a few weeks and carrot cake is his favorite. But we are on diets so don’t want to make a whole huge cake. Any ideas how many cupcakes this would make? Thinking of halving the recipe.

  • Shaffin Haji
    February 4, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Well Carrot cakes are bliss and eating them is well what can I say? Mental food Orgasm? well At first when I mixed the ingredients [thats from another recipe taken in online] I realized that it was too runny and I nearly added a an extra cup of flour.. but didn’t, and anyway to make it a lil bit different, I also added 1/2 a teaspoon of Garam masala [home made of course] and man .. boy o boy… what can I say? The moistest cake I have ever eaten and from Kamran’s recipe with some nuts and cocnut and yogurt, it will eb an experience to heaven like feeling in terms of food vocabulary.
    My Hugs to all of you who have participated in writing the new blog ‘The kitchen generation’ I live in Tanzania and I run my own food cafe and experiment with a lot of different cakes and I bake a lot.

  • Anon.
    February 5, 2011 at 4:47 am

    I came across your website through 17 and Baking and her post on your new blog ‘The Kitchen Generation’….all I really wanted to say was that I find the feel of grating an endless pile of carrots incredibly therapeutic too!….especially when they’re intended for a cake :D

  • Zane
    March 30, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    at first I was a bit sceptical if it won’t be too dry or sweet, but only until I tasted it. this cake was the best I’ve made in long time. quite easy to make and experiment with ingredients. thank you for the recipe!

  • Ruth
    April 11, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    lovely site! the cake had an incredible moistness-level and the flavors were well-balanced.
    just a note to any readers: i substituted the yogurt (ran out!) for applesauce with great success :)

  • Yasmin
    April 19, 2011 at 3:20 am

    I’ve been looking for a decent carrot cake recipe. Have made a few over the years but this looks wonderful (especially the snow white cream cheese!) Must give it a shot. *bookmarks*

  • steph
    July 12, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Loved this cake! easy to do and works perfectly as cupcakes too! thanks and greeting from Costa Rica!

  • Sarah
    February 6, 2012 at 12:00 am

    mmmmmmmmm i made this cake for my partner’s birthday and it turned out wonderful with just toasted pecans. (i am not a skilled baker) I did half the icing with orange zest and juice and half with sugar and vanilla extract and layered the cakes one on top if the other… all while drinking a giant mojito late into the night. thank you for you blog, Kamran.

  • Liz
    December 16, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    What a fantastic cake! I won the baking competition at work with this recipe so thanks! :)

  • MhaiS21
    January 3, 2013 at 2:45 am

    Is it possible to be inlove with your writing? Your description of the billowy snow outside and the silence of your kitchen is enough to make me wander and walk around barefooted on your cold kitchen floors. It is amazing to read something that transports you to another place. Your words are comfort and I love it. :-)

  • Maria
    June 25, 2014 at 3:03 am

    Do you think it would work o make this 48 hours in advance and keep in the fridge, or should I just freeze it?


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