Carrot Cake with Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting

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A deliciously moist Carrot Cake with a light and fresh Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting. This carrot cake recipe is sure to become a favourite with your family and friends!

carrot cake on metal tray with blue tea towel

Carrot Cake Recipe

One of my favourite past-times is chatting online with my foodie friends. We talk about a whole manner of things, mostly food-related, frequently veering off-topic but somehow always circling back to the matter at heart.

Some time ago, a discussion was held on favourite carrot cake recipes, and one recipe which got a frequent mention was Rachel Allen’s version from her cookbook, Bake.

carrot cake on baking tray with vintage knife and vintage graters in background

Rachel Allen is an Irish culinary figure whose cookbooks exude charm, simplicity and warmth. Some love her, some hate her. Others have never heard of her. I find her books to be a welcome addition to my kitchen; her homely and family-friendly recipes resonate with me, something which I think is important when choosing a cookbook. In my case, I have chosen all of her cookbooks, each one as delightful as the next.

Whether you are a working professional or a stay-at-home parent, her pared-down recipes help you to get a tasty dinner on the table without too much fuss. Her baking recipes, in particular, are among my favourites and this Carrot Cake with Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting is no exception.

slab of carrot cake with one slice cut out

How to Make Carrot Cake

I have used this carrot cake recipe so many times over the years which, I suppose, is a testament to its foolproof recipe and the fact that it is, quite simply, delicious.

I usually bake this Carrot Cake with Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting in a loaf tin, but I recently found that baking it in a rectangular tin meant I could stretch it a bit further, making it a bit easier for serving when we have friends and family visiting.

Also, it meant I could squeeze more marzipan carrots onto the cake which, after all, is what attracts my children most to this cake!

step by step photos for making carrot cake

In Switzerland, carrot cake is very popular, and you can find a more traditional Swiss recipe for carrot cake here on my blog. The Swiss version is less sweet and served unfrosted, but it is always decorated with marzipan carrots.

Hence, all Swiss children grow up loving carrot cake and associating it with these cute marzipan carrots. It is also not uncommon to find carrot cake served at birthday parties, an idea which I plan to execute soon.

carrots at farmers markets
{Fresh carrots at the farmers’ markets in Zurich}

Tips for Making Carrot Cake

Despite what you see in the list of ingredients for this carrot cake recipe, this carrot cake is surprisingly light and moist, redolent with a lovely mix of ground spices which makes it a perfect pairing with a cup of tea.

Omitting the nuts will produce a lighter cake, but it will also be a bit crumbly as the nuts seem to help give the cake a bit shape.

A food processor with a grater attachment will help you to grate the carrots quickly. But as you only need about 2 large carrots, this hardly takes anytime with a normal handheld grater.

slab of carrot cake on baking tray with blue tea towel

Other Carrot Cake Recipes You Might Enjoy

If carrot cake is your thing, you might also enjoy this lovely Moist Carrot Cake with Lemon Frosting.

For a more traditional Swiss-style carrot cake, I recommend this classic recipe for Swiss Carrot Cake from Betty Bossi.

For something the kids will love, you can’t beat these Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting from Nigella Lawson.

carrot cake on baking tray with vintage graters in background

Carrot Cake with Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting

5 from 2 reviews

A deliciously moist Carrot Cake with a light and fresh Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting. This carrot cake recipe is sure to become a favourite with your family and friends!

  • Author: eatlittlebird.com
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8 to 10
  • Category: Cakes
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

For the cake

For the orange cream-cheese frosting

  • 250 g (9 oz) cream cheese (cold, from the fridge)
  • 50 g (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 275 g (2 cups) icing sugar (powdered sugar), or to taste
  • zest of 1 orange

To decorate

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F).
  2. Grease and line a 13 cm x 23 cm loaf tin (5 x 9 inches).
  3. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a KitchenAid, beat together the eggs, oil and sugar until it is pale and thick.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, ground cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice.
  5. Mix until well combined.
  6. Stir through the carrots, raisins and nuts (if using).
  7. The batter will be quite liquid but don’t worry about this.
  8. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for about 1 to 1.25 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  9. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes before removing it to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. To make the cream-cheese frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together in a medium bowl. Add the vanilla extract, icing sugar and orange zest and mix to combine. The icing should be quite thick.
  11. If necessary, you can place the icing in the fridge for about 10 minutes to firm up.
  12. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake and serve as is, or decorate with some marzipan carrots. You could also sprinkle over some chopped walnuts.

Kitchen Notes

To bake this cake in a 17cm x 25 cm (7 x 10 inches) rectangular baking tin (as shown in the photos), bake for about 55 mins, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

STORAGE TIPS
This cake is best eaten on the same day it is made. Otherwise, due to the cream cheese frosting, keep any leftovers in the fridge or in a cool place.

OVEN TEMPERATURES
All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 587
  • Sugar: 67.2g
  • Sodium: 215.9mg
  • Fat: 23.9g
  • Carbohydrates: 91.6g
  • Fiber: 3.1g
  • Protein: 5.5g
  • Cholesterol: 37.5mg

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment below and share your photos by tagging @eatlittlebird on Instagram and using #eatlittlebird

Update

This recipe was first published on 28 February 2012. It has been updated with new photos and more comprehensive recipe notes.

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46 comments on “Carrot Cake with Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting

  1. Jo 28 February 2012

    Thanh – what a happy post, a veritable Rhapsody in Orange! I’m a big carrot cake fan but haven’t made one in a long time. Again, ugly are demonstrating psychic ability as I’ve been toying with the ever more difficult question – which carrot cake to bake now?! I’ve made the first two recipes, obviously not your third one but it does appeal to me, loving all tags almond. I think a better recipe for a carrot cupcake comes from Eat Me by Xanthe Milton and its called “Bollywood Cupcakes” and is heady with plenty of spice, nuts, sultanas and a moist, damp crumb. Lush stuff. I’ve said this next thing over and over but I’ve made RA’s carrot cake from bake but her carrot and pecan tray bake recipe (also in Bake) to me, is better yet and now the only one of the two I make. I am a pecan fiend but it’s not just the pecans – the texture is fabulous too. As for new recipes to try, I’ve been eyeing up Dan Leppard’s that Sam raves over, a new Mary Berry one in the last Delicious magazine and also one in RVCH. One day, when I need a giant cake, I’ll make the American Master Chef guy’s one from season two (sorry I can’t recall his name but I’ve saved the recipe!) as it looked spectacular on the show.

    Goodness, anymore would think I had a serious carrot cake problem after that comment lol! 😉
    Fantastic post Thanh – love the playful photos, esp the middle cake and I did LOL at you saying it was too in your face as I loved it the most! 😀

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 29 February 2012

      Oh I like the sound of the Bollywood Cupcakes! And I do recall you championing Rachel Allen’s carrot tray bake. That sounds like a delicious recipe too. Looks like you’ve also got quite a few carrot cake recipes lined up, LOL!

      P.S. If the photos of the middle cake are your favourite, I won’t re-take them 🙂 Which gives me a chance to perhaps try a different recipe!

      Reply
  2. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious 28 February 2012

    I wasn’t much of a carrot cake fan either growing up. It is weird, putting veggies into baked goods, like zucchini muffins or something but they’re actually all delightful treats.

    All 3 recipes look fabulous. I will have to try all of them, but I think I’m particularly excited about the carrot cupcakes. I need smaller food items to help me portion control, or I would actually eat an entire cake!

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 29 February 2012

      Hi Chung-Ah,

      Oh, the thought of using zucchini in cakes is how I initially felt about carrot cakes. And then there’s beetroot … I guess I have to try out some recipes to find out what it’s all about!

      The cupcakes are definitely great for portion control. And if you are using marzipan carrots, it also means you are guaranteed one with each cupcake 🙂

      Reply
  3. Caroline 29 February 2012

    It used to strike me as odd as well, growing up. A cake made of carrots? Didn’t help that I didn’t like carrots either! I tasted my first one in Scotland. A good one, and it changed my mind for good! My favourite is Rachel Allan’s cake as well and in fact, I am baking that for husband’s work as its been requested, yup, that popular.

    I loved reading this post Thanh, and of course, one that digs deep into several recipes for the same type of cake is always good, as someone else has done the work!!

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 29 February 2012

      I bet your husband’s work mates all wish their wives could bake like you! How lucky they must be that you bake for them so often 🙂 I think you were amongst those who recommended this cake to me, so I have you to thank for introducing me to yet another fabulous recipe!

      Reply
  4. Heather 29 February 2012

    While reading through your post, I had one question in mind, which was quickly answered in ‘the verdict’. I was curious how you ate all 3 cakes before being completely sick of carrots, but a backlog of recipes makes sense. Last week I made 2 banana bread loaves, and for some reason the sour cream did not evenly spread, therefore I had huge white lumps throughout my cake. A bit disappointing. I love love love carrot cake. I will have to give those 3 recipes a go. I love adding a little pineapple to my cake 🙂

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 29 February 2012

      LOL! I should confess that I am capable of baking the same cake back-to-back, just to test in close succession which is the best recipe. But thankfully I wasn’t too obsessed with carrot cake to do that.

      Shame to hear that your banana bread didn’t work out but I hope it still tasted okay. One thing I can’t bear is wasting good ingredients.

      So you add pineapple to your carrot cakes?? That sounds really interesting as I love pineapple cake! I will have to keep an eye out for some carrot cake recipes with pineapple …

      Reply
  5. Anita Menon 29 February 2012

    Wonderful round up of carrots in baking. Loved the beautiful cup cakes. i have seen that one in the Domestic Goddess but always flipped past it. Next time I am going to see if I can make them since my family loves carrot cake

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 29 February 2012

      I think it’s easy to overlook this recipe in HTBADG because there is no accompanying photo, but it is definitely one worth making 🙂

      Reply
  6. Jennifer (Delicieux) 29 February 2012

    I loved reading about your carrot cake adventures – two recipes by two of my favourite cookbook authors and one new to me. I love Rachel Allen and am surprised that anyone could dislike her. I have her Entertaining At Home book and it’s one of my favourites. I am yet to add Bake to my collection, but it’s certainly on my wishlist.

    I love your gorgeous carrot decorations too! I especially love how you buried them in the last carrot cake.

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 29 February 2012

      I’m also surprised that some people don’t like Rachel Allen, but I guess we all have our personal preferences. I have Entertaining at Home and have ear-marked so many recipes but am still yet to cook from this book … hopefully soon! I highly recommend Bake and I hope you will add it to your collection soon 🙂

      Reply
  7. Reem | Simply Reem 29 February 2012

    Thanh, I have to say i don,t think I have seen better looking carrot cake or cupcake…
    This post was itself such a nice read, I must say I learned a little bit more about carrot cake today…
    Delicious!!!

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 29 February 2012

      Thanks, Reem! After having tried three carrot cake recipes, I hope I was able to share something useful 🙂

      Reply
  8. Sam-I-am 29 February 2012

    Hi Crème!
    I LOVED this Chronicle (what an original post!) and read it with great interest and pleasure! I loved how you approached each recipe and gave, what sounds like, very good tips for each! Of the three, I have tried Rachel Allen’s only, and shock, horror, I did not like it! 🙁 I must give it a another go, but it just did not appeal to me. I think it’s is because I am so in love with Dan Leppard’s version from ‘Baker and Spice’ that I cannot see beyond it! (Spoken like a woman really in love!). I ask you to please give it a go, as I respect your opinion greatly!
    Here is the recipe:
    http://throughtheovendoor.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1728&p=21856&hilit=my+favourite+carrot+cake#p21856
    And here is a photo of it I took a while back (it must be said that this recipe yields a handsome tall cake!):
    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001610500936&ref=tn_tnmn#!/photo.php?fbid=166637920066557&set=a.111650005565349.12973.100001610500936&type=3&theater
    Still, your post is so beautiful to look at and easy to read, that I look forward to every installment!

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 29 February 2012

      Hi Sam! I’m so glad you enjoyed this post 🙂 I thought of you when I was writing this post as I have Dan Lepard’s carrot cake on my list of things to bake. And since everything you have recommended has always turned out brilliantly, I’m sure I won’t be disappointed by this recommendation. It’s next on my list!

      Incidentally, I saw that Baker & Spice is available again on Amazon and I’ve been thinking of ordering it … 🙂

      Reply
  9. Sam-I-am 29 February 2012

    It would be a good buy Creme, especially for someone as talented as you! The Date Shortbread Bars are from there after all! Still, of all the cakes, the carrot one was the most successful in my experience, the other three were ok. But a beautiful book all the same. I love your photography Creme and your posts are always educational. Great idea in comparing 3 different recipes for the same type of cake!

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 1 March 2012

      Thank you, Sam! Your words of encouragement are always comforting to me 🙂

      So … the book has been ordered!!! I think it would be worth it just for the Date Shortbread Bars but even NYinRome recommended this book for the carrot cake, so I think it is a must-have for me 🙂 Will let you know when it arrives!

      Reply
  10. Liz Headon 1 March 2012

    Carrot cake was unknown to me too as a child, but I’ve loved it ever since I discovered it. Like you I find I often have problems with the icing – all too often I’ve made quite an expensive cream cheese mixture only to find it is more like a sauce than the topping in the illustration, even if the cake is kept in the fridge.

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 1 March 2012

      Oh I’m glad to hear that someone else has my frustrations! But if you try my method next time, Liz, hopefully that will work for you. I basically beat the cream cheese (cold in the fridge) in a bowl until it is smooth, and then I slowly beat in a few tablespoons of icing sugar until I get the desired sweetness and texture. I find the icing sugar makes the cream cheese turn liquidy, which is why I go slowly with it. The advantage of doing without the cream-cheese icing is that the cake keeps for longer … out of the fridge 🙂

      Reply
  11. The Food Sage 2 March 2012

    I’ve always been partial to the cream cheese frosting on carrot cake. And i love the amount you have pooled on top of the cup cakes. Count me in! Carrot cup cakes, here i come!

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 4 March 2012

      Oh yes, once you’ve tried carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, going without makes it taste like a totally different cake!

      Reply
  12. I, too, have the same notion towards carrot cakes. Or any cakes that contain roots/vegetables. Such as Zucchini bread. But sometimes, when i happen to find really good looking ones, (tender moist and not pale) I tend to think “people don’t make these enough”. They are classic and yours are beautiful!

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 20 March 2012

      Hi Jesica,

      Looks like I will have to brave up and try other vegetables in baking, like the zucchini bread you mentioned. I’ll keep you posted!

      Reply
  13. At Anna's Kitchen Table 17 March 2012

    Ah, a carrot-cake-fest!! Interesting…I must admit to needing cream cheese frosting with mine Thanh :)).
    Have you ever heard of mother Berta’s carrot cake? Now, that recipe is ‘to die for’! I’m sure you’d find it if you googled. It contains pineapple and coconut too. Very yummy.

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 20 March 2012

      Thanks for the tip, Anna! I will look up Berta’s carrot cake … the addition of pineapple and coconut sounds really delicious!

      I must also admit to being a fan of the cream-cheese frosting, but if I am eating cake for breakfast (which I often do!), I don’t feel so guilty if the cake is sans frosting, if you know what I mean 😉

      Reply
  14. unsorsoallavolta 25 March 2012

    waiting for my rhubarb to be ready for your freshly posted tea cake (which looks super-delicious!!!), I’ll give a try to one of these… I think I’m going with either Nigella’s or Rachel Allen’s one… I’ll let you know about the results 😉

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 25 March 2012

      Oh wonderful!! I’m glad to hear that you might try one or two recipes from my blog 🙂 I will anxiously await to hear which carrot cake recipe you will make!

      Reply
      • unsorsoallavolta 30 March 2012

        coming back just to say that I tried Nigella’s muffins with Allen’s icing and they were wonderful! the cakes are already perfect if you want to have a simple snack. the icing adds that little something that makes you say “yum! delicious!” unfortunately I had friends for supper and I had no time to take a photo of the cakes before they were all eaten up! 🙂

        Reply
        • eat, little bird 30 March 2012

          Oh how wonderful to hear that you tried Nigella’s recipe! And that you made Rachel Allen’s icing! Best of both worlds, I think 😉 I agree that these cupcakes are great as a snack – the icing makes them just that little bit more special 🙂 Thanks for popping back to let me know that you tried these cupcakes! I’m always happy to hear that I may have inspired someone in the kitchen 🙂

          Reply
  15. unsorsoallavolta 30 March 2012

    just to point out …”unfortunately” above only refers to the fact I had no time for the photo, not to the friends, obviously…! I realized the sentence could have been a little odd, sorry

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 30 March 2012

      LOL! Not a problem at all 🙂 I know how it feels when you have guests over and you’re attention is focused on making sure everyone is fed, rather than taking photos. How lucky that your friends were welcomed with your homemade treats! There’s always another time for photos 😉

      Reply
  16. Quynh Anh 11 April 2012

    The cake and also the muffin look cute! 🙂

    Reply
  17. Jean 15 March 2013

    I had to come up with a swift, low-key but attractive and of course delicious bit of bakery last week as a matter of semi-emergency. I flicked through HTBADG, and then was so delighted to discover on FB that you had made and reviewed these. I rose happily at 5 am and launched into carrot-grating, secure in the knowledge that the cupcakes would be a success, and so they were! Thanks, babe!

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 19 March 2013

      I’m happy to hear that these cupcakes worked out for you! It’s a great, yet simple, carrot cake recipe. And because the recipe comes from Nigella, you can trust that it will turn out nicely 🙂

      Reply
  18. Robyn 6 March 2014

    Love your blog! We share a love of baking and also many of the same cook books.
    After reading your Carrot Cake Chronicles, it reminded me of this web article: http://www.goodfood.com.au/good-food/top-10-cook/found-australias-best-carrot-cake-20131116-2xn4m.html
    A most touching story where a 90-year-old widower wrote to The Age Newspaper’s Epicure section. ”I am 90-year-old bloke with a passion for carrot cake. My late wife used to make them for me as long as I grated all the carrots. Any suggestions where to buy a really good one? B. Balding.” This led to a hunt for ‘Australia’s Best Carrot Cake”.
    The winning entry comes from a gorgeous cook book – The Monday Morning Cooking Club, which is in my collection. I have since made the cake and, yes, it is certainly yummy!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 6 March 2014

      Thank you for sharing this link! How sweet that The Age instigated a search for the best carrot cake in response to this widower’s letter. I haven’t heard of the Monday Morning Cooking Club but I am now very intrigued to try their recipe. Since this post, I have actually tried quite a few more carrot cake recipes with a “Part II” of the Carrot Cake Chronicles in mind … hopefully I will get that post together soon 🙂

      Reply
  19. Tara 16 October 2014

    I’ve just discovered your site and have already book marked lots of lovely recipes- thank you! I’ve yet to try Rachel Allen’s carrot cake but her Zucchini bread in Bake is a great recipe. My favourite carrot cake recipe has to be Delia Smith’s ultimate carrot cake with mascarpone icing – so good! : http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cuisine/european/english/the-ultimate-carrot-cake.html

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 17 October 2014

      I’ve never tried zucchini bread before but I’m curious to, especially if it will be a way to get my little one to eat vegetables! And thanks for the link to Delia’s recipe. I’ve been trying out lots of new carrot cake recipes since this post that I ought to do a series on carrot cakes!

      Reply
  20. Rose 21 April 2018

    I love Rachel Allen’s recipes! I made this cake once and I remember that it was really delicious. I added the nuts so maybe that was why my cake was not crumbly? But nothing wrong with a crumble cake, especially if it is delicious!

    Reply
  21. […] For a classic American-style carrot cake, you can’t beat this Carrot Cake with Orange-Cream Cheese Frosting. […]

    Reply
  22. kerrin 14 May 2018

    three cheers for carrot cake ! that was always my choice of cake for my own birthday, growing up. and now that chloé asks for it for hers every year warms my heart. of course, it may have something to do with those marzipan carrots too ! haha. while of course there was frosting involved during my childhood in new york, now i bake an unfrosted cake with olive oil and quark. and just top with those fun little marzipan guys. ?

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 16 May 2018

      Hello lovely! So wonderful to hear from you! We quite love the Swiss version of carrot cake – the cream cheese frosting is mostly for special occasions, and especially since we can’t keep it outside like most other cakes. I love the sound of a quark topping though! Must email you for your recipe 🙂 Our children love carrot cake, although they haven’t asked for it yet for their birthdays, but that might be because we don’t eat chocolate cake that often and they take advantage of any opportunity for chocolate cake 😉 xx

      Reply
  23. kerrin 23 May 2018

    the quark is IN the cake ! no topping. nary a dusting of powdered sugar. just those marzipan carrots, ready to be swiped by little fingers, haha ! happy to email you the recipe… i’m not a fan of chocolate cake, to be honest. so the girls never eat it. happy they share my love for carrot cake and chocolate chip cookies though ! 🙂

    Reply
  24. Veena Azmanov 9 June 2018

    Carrot cake is one of my favorites! I would love to try a Swiss carrot cake!

    Reply
  25. […] Carrot Cake with Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting […]

    Reply

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