Moist and Dense Carrot Cake

I had the urge to make carrot after a co-worker of Todd’s mentioned she was making one for her wedding.  Unfortunately, a prior carrot cake making endeavor was traumatic and I hadn’t made one since. What happened was after I baked the big beautiful cake, it developed little flecks of green. I did some research to try to find out what caused the green and didn’t get any clear cut answer. Nigella said it was the carrot skins that cause this, but I used skinned, pre-shredded carrots, so I think it was a chemical reaction to the baking soda. At any rate, it put me off carrot cake for a while and I’ve always been a huge fan. This cake needed to be redemptive, which meant using less baking soda.

After looking at many recipes on-line, I ended up making the cake as written below. Most versions at least 2 teaspoons of baking soda, but I used 1 tsp. soda and 1 tsp. powder. Other versions use 2 cups white sugar, but I used half white, half brown. Instead of a full cup of oil, I used half oil and half butter. I also used pineapple, which some people opt not to use but which I love. Following the lead of an allrecipes cake that had about 400 good reviews, I let the carrots sit in the sugar for 10 minutes and develop a juice. I don’t know what this does besides add moisture (the recipe didn’t say to pour it off), but it worked for me so I’d probably do it again to make a super-moist carrot cake.

Interestingly, after making this cake, I read that Chris Kimball of Cook’s Illustrated does the carrot macerating step too, only in his version he uses a bit more sugar and dumps off the excess juice. I’ll be trying his method next, as it seemed to promise another type of carrot cake I really love – -the dark, flaky and moist type. But back to the cake at hand, this one is a very moist, dense cake. My friend said it tasted like Fall.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Moist and Dense Carrot Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Dense and Moist Carrot Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup well-drained crushed pineapple (about 1 cup before draining)
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (optional)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans
Frosting: (Updated -- people said the other one was too stiff.  This one is great!)
  • 16 oz of softened cream cheese
  • 4 oz of unsalted or salted butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar (more if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • milk (if needed)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 (8 inch) round cake pans with flour-added cooking spray or spray a 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray. If using 8 inch pans, you might want to line bottom with parchment because this cake is sticky.
  2. In a large plastic bowl mixing bowl, stir together carrots and both sugars. Let sit for about 10 minutes; the sugar will form a juice. Stir in oil, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, pineapple and fresh ginger.
  3. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir flour mixture and toasted nuts into carrot mixture. Pour into prepared pans or pan.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes (13x9 inch pan might take longer) or until tester comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn from pans if using 8 inch. The cake is fairly delicate, so be careful. Cool completely and prepare frosting.
  5. Beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Stir in sugar, then beat until fluffy and light. Frost Cake.


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  1. Anonymous says

    Your cake looks great! What sort of tool did you use for the lovely little icing dollops?

  2. Anna says

    I cut the end off one of those disposable decorating bags, but rather than stick a tip in it, I just put the icing in the bag and squeezed it out through the cut end. I think a heavy duty zipper bag would have worked just as well.

  3. says

    Wow, your cake looks really good!!
    I am from Brazil, and there carrot cakes are done a bit different. I adore carrot cake, but am still to try one of these versions. I think I will give your version a try, as I really liked the picture and it seems like a very moist cake, which I also hapen to like!

  4. says

    Have you ever tried cooking and mashing the carrots? That’s been my trick forever though in the last 10 years of forever I don’t think I’ve made one so don’t have a recent (and far more food aware) memory … love the icing edging.

  5. sandra says

    I always use clear vanilla when I make cream cheese icing. The icing turns out so pretty and white. Wilton’s makes it. I found it in the cake decorating section at WalMart.

  6. says

    Now that’s a carrot cake! I love it, but am so sad when people make them and they’re dry. Yours clearly does not have that problem.

  7. says

    Yummy, the top layer of my wedding “cupcake tower” was a big carrot cake for the wedding party. Have you tried the Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake? I believe its from the junior league of portland. I won 2nd place in our towns fair ( would have won first, but they didnt like the orange peel I put in the frosting). Its very moist and includes pecans, and coconut and pineapple.

  8. Beth says

    Wow this was a fantastic recipe. I made this cake and frosting this weekend for my houseguests and they wanted to eat it for breakfast and lunch the next day. It is moist, great tasting, not the usual baking soda flavor that so often turns up in carrot cake. I will be using this as my carrot cake recipe from now on.

  9. Anna says

    Hi Beth,

    Thanks for trying out the carrot cake recipe. It’s always nice when people are daring enough to try recipes I’ve monkeyed around with. My friends liked this one as well.

    Thanks again for the review.

  10. Mercedes says

    The recipe lists vanilla 2x… I’m making it and assuming it calls for 1 teaspoon of vanilla in the cake recipe and another in the frosting. Not a big deal to me but someone else might not notice and put it in twice.

    Great site by the way. It reminds me of a book I just read called Cooking with Julia which is about a woman who cooks the entire book, The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child in a year. She would cook a recipe or two or three a night! She also blogged about it and had a group of devoted fans rooting her on.

  11. says

    Mercedes, thanks for the comment! I hope you like the cake. This is one I haven’t made in a while.

    Also, thanks for catching the double vanilla. There should be 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

  12. Kel says

    EXCELLENT CAKE!!! However the frosting is just a little too loose for my liking, needs to be a little stiffer for ease of icing.

  13. says

    My, my, my, I ususally bake it withouth the nuts and the pineapple and its usually good but not very moist. this recipe blew me away and i will definitely use this one all the time. I just can’t seem to get the forsting right though. it was too cheesy and the more icing snow I add the more watery it becomes:( soaking the carrots in the sugar definitely adds to the moistiness. thanx a mill for this.

  14. Donna says

    Oh my! How do I subscribe to all of these delicious recipes??? MMmmmmm. I can hardly wait to try some of them! Beautiful photos btw! and the recipes sound incredible! =)

  15. says

    Hi Anna!!! That carrot cake looks absolutely gorgeous!!! I was wondering…I’m thinking about doing a sort of carrot cake recipe round-up for Carrot Cake Day, Feb. 3rd. I was wondering if you minded if I grab your photo to include in the round-up. I would of course link to your post.

    Hope all is well with you. Thanks for sharing…Louise.

  16. Lauren says

    I just made these in cupcake form, and they are good, but to me they don’t taste quite carrot-cake-ey enough, any idea what good have gone wrong? Or what to add for extra oomph?

  17. says

    I just made this last night and it turned out amazing! Especially after a day in the fridge, the cake is super moist and dense exactly how I like it. One recommendation: bake at 375 instead of 350. We baked at 350 for 40 min and the cake was still mostly liquid and almost spilled out when we tried to flip it out of the pan. Luckily it didn’t and we put it in an extra 10 min at 375. The second cake we did at 375 and it cooked in exactly the prescribed 35 min.

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