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Old Fashioned Carrot Cake Recipe

Follow our complete, step-by-step, photo illustrated directions to learn how to make, bake, and assemble this old fashioned recipe. A real Southern favorite. Printable recipe included.

This old fashioned version is a basic cake. It’s delicious, without the pineapple, coconut, raisins and some other things you might not like, or find in some of the more modern versions. Yes, we share our recipe for cream cheese frosting with pecans as well. You really need to try this one.

Sometimes I wonder why it takes me so long to post some of the most popular of Southern type recipes here on Taste of Southern. You would think I would have done this one a long time ago.

I love cake. And, as a friend of mine often says, “I’ve never met a cake I didn’t like.” Smile.

Carrot Cakes are certainly a favorite of cakes here in the South. You’ll not likely attend a church dinner, some type of social event, or family reunion, without finding a nice Carrot Cake sitting somewhere on the dessert table. It has a habit of showing up everywhere.

Most Carrot Cakes these days are made with pineapple, coconut, pecans, and some times raisins. They almost always have a Cream Cheese frosting. I refer to that one as the Ultimate Carrot Cake, and I hope to post that recipe before too long.

This one is more basic, without the pineapple, coconut or raisins. I refer to this one as an Old Fashioned Carrot Cake. It’s still delicious and many folks prefer it especially if they don’t like crushed pineapple. I do hope you’ll try it.

I often have wondered who was the first person to place carrots in a cake – and why. Not sure we’ll ever know the real answer, but they sure did create a great cake recipe from it.

This one is perfect for Easter, which is right around the corner at the time I’m sharing this one.

Ready to give our recipe a try? Alright then, let’s head on out to the kitchen, and… Let’s Get Cooking!

Carrot Cake, ingredients.

Old Fashioned Carrot Cake Recipe – You’ll need these ingredients for the cake. You’ll also need a cup of Canola oil which somehow refused to stand still for a photo. Please forgive me.

I’ve got the ingredients for the cream cheese frosting with walnuts further down.

Carrot Cake, grate the carrots.

We’ll start out by grating 2 cups of fresh carrots and then just setting them aside for the moment. Please grate the carrots yourself for the best flavor. The pre-grated or shredded carrots just can’t compare.

Carrot Cake, add eggs to bowl.

Crack 4 large eggs into a medium sized mixing bowl next.

Carrot Cake, add the sugar.

Add 2 cups of granulated sugar to the bowl.

Carrot Cake, add the oil.

Add 1 cup Canola Oil.

Mix everything together with a mixer on Low to Medium  speed. Mix just until combined.

Carrot Cake, sift flour.

Sift a bit more than the 2 cups of all-purpose flour called for in the recipe.

Carrot Cake, level cups.

Use a spoon to scoop the sifted flour into your measuring cup. Fill the cup overflowing at first, then use the back of a butter knife to remove any excess until you have one level cup of sifted flour.

Place 2 level cups of sifted flour into another mixing bowl.

Carrot Cake, add cinnamon.

Add 2 teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon to the flour.

Carrot Cake, add baking soda.

Add 3/4ths of a teaspoon of Baking Soda.

Carrot Cake, add baking powder.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of Baking Powder.

Carrot Cake, add salt.

Add 1/4th teaspoon of Salt.

Carrot Cake, add nutmeg.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of Ground Nutmeg.

Carrot Cake, mix well.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together well. I like to use my whisk for this.

Carrot Cake, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients gradually.

Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing just until incorporated with an electric mixer. Do not overmix the batter.

Carrot Cake, scrape down sides of bowl.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Carrot Cake, add the carrots.

Add the 2 cups of grated carrots to the bowl.

Carrot Cake, fold in carrots.

Use a spatula or large spoon and fold the carrots into the batter.

Prepare your baking pans. I’m using 2 of the 8 inch round pans for my cake. I sprayed the inside of each pan with a cooking spray that already has flour in it first. Then, I placed a parchment circle in the bottom of the pan and sprayed that as well.

You could also just use oil to grease your pans lightly. Then sprinkle the inside with some flour and swirl it around until the bottom and insides of the pan are lightly coated with flour. Tap out any excess flour and you’re good to go. Smile.

Divide the batter as evenly as possible between the two pans. Lift each filled pan up about an inch and drop it on your countertop a couple of times to help remove any bubbles in the batter.

Carrot Cake, baking time and temp.

Pre-heat your oven to 350F degrees.

Place both layers on the middle or just below middle rack in your oven. Let them bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 350F degrees until the layers are done.

You can test them by inserting a wooden toothpick in the center of the layer. If it pulls out clean, your layers are done. If it pulls out with a few crumbs attached, your layers need to bake for a minute or two longer.

Also, the layers will start pulling away from inside the pan when they are done.

When the layers are done, remove them from the oven and place them on a wire rack or folded towel to cool for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to be sure the cake layer isn’t sticking to the inside of the pan. Then, flip the layers out of the pan and place them back on the wire racks to cool completely. The layers need to be completely cooled before you frost them.

Cream Cheese Frosting with Walnuts – You’ll need these ingredients

Place 1/2 cup of Butter and 1 3oz package of Cream Cheese in a large mixing bowl. Both the butter and the cream cheese should be at room temperature.

Start on Low speed with your mixer, then work up to Medium speed and cream the butter and the cream cheese together. This will take 4-5 minutes or longer to make sure they are both combined together and creamy and fluffy in texture. Don’t skimp on the time in doing this. Smile.

Add 1 teaspoon of Vanilla flavoring to the mixture.

Gradually sift in the sugar and continue to mix it all together.

Confectioners Sugar will about always have some lumps in it. You don’t want those in your frosting if you try to do any piping, flowers, or writing in your cake decorations.

Carrot Cake, scrape down sides of bowl.

As you mix, scrape down the sides of the bowl and up from the bottom of the bowl to be sure you get all the sugar mixed in.

Add the 1 cup of chopped Walnuts if you want to use them. You could make it without the nuts if you prefer. Your choice.

Use a spatula or large spoon to fold the nuts into the frosting.

Carrot Cake, assemble your cake.

Assemble your cake. 

It’s hard to see in the photo, but I have a small turntable that I like to use to help frost my cakes. I have a piece of drawer liner on top of the turntable to keep my cardboard cake circle from slipping.

Place the cardboard cake circle, or plate if you’re using one, in the center of the turntable. Then, place just a dab of the frosting in the center of the board. This will help hold the cake layer in place while you work on the cake.

I cut small strips of parchment paper and place it around the outside edges of the cake board. This will keep the board or plate clean while you work on frosting the cake.

Carrot Cake, first layer.

Place the first layer, top side down, on the cake board making sure you have it centered up on the board.

I like to fill a cake decorating bag with frosting and a large open round tip. Use this to pipe a circle of frosting around the outer edge of the cake layer.

You don’t have to do this of course, but I like that it gives me a fairly even height around the outside edge of the cake to help me put an even layer of frosting on top.

Carrot Cake, add more frosting.

Now, pipe some more frosting inside the outer ring of frosting. It doesn’t matter what this looks like, but it would be a good time to practice if I would take advantage of the opportunity. Smile.

Carrot Cake, spread the frosting.

Use a spatula to spread the frosting evenly over the top of the first layer.

Carrot Cake, add the second layer.

Center the second layer on top of the first layer.

Carrot Cake, add frosting.

Frost the top and the sides of your cake.

Your cake is now complete, or you can decorate it if you like.

I gently removed the pieces of parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. As you can see, the cake board is pretty clean. Just saying.

Let’s cut into it. Shall we?

Carrot Cake, enjoy.


Don’t judge my attempt to put carrot decorations on my cake. I’ve never had any talent for cake decorating, even though it’s something I’ve always wanted to learn. My hands just aren’t steady enough for it these days, but I still try a little something some times.

You will want to cover any leftovers and store the cake in your refrigerator. It should last several days and stay fairly fresh and moist as well. I hope you’ll try it and enjoy it.

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