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Easy Carrot Cake Traybake

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Our favorite carrot cake traybake with cream cheese frosting, spices, and walnuts, this simple cake is genuinely addictive – the perfect bake for Easter family gatherings.

overhead view of many squares of carrot cake frosted and decorated with marzipan carrots.

This carrot cake traybake is a great bake for Easter; it’s easy to make, quick, and incredibly delicious. And the best thing about it is that you can make it in advance; it tastes even better the next day.

And if you like baking with carrots, try the Best Carrot Coconut Cake, Nigella’s Muffins, the Eggless Carrot Cake, or the Almond Carrot Cake.

Why will you love this recipe?

  • The carrot cake recipe is not overly sweet, so there is a perfect balance between the cake and the very sweet topping.
  • Super easy to make; mix some ingredients and bake. There is no complicated decorating process either; slather the frosting on the cake and place some marzipan carrots on the cut squares (optional).
  • Moist without being muddy.
  • Perfect for making in advance.

Recipe ingredients

listed ingredients for making carrot cake tray bake.

Carrots:

  • Grated, fresh carrots. Don’t use pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store; they are always so dry, which will affect the texture of the cake.
  • You will need 10.5 oz/ 300 g carrots (peeled), about 5-6 medium carrots but I strongly recommend weighing that quantity on a kitchen scale; carrots come in such different sizes, and I always find it challenging to decide what medium means precisely.
  • Those should be about 3 cups when grated, but I don’t trust cup measuring much; I prefer to know exactly what I’m doing.

Spices:

  • I love to use a combination of spices like ground cinnamon, ginger, star anise, and cardamom. You can use only cinnamon if you like, or use all-spice or another warm spice combination, for instance, pumpkin pie spices.

Additions:

  • I like walnuts and raisins. However, you can use other nuts instead. Pecans, almonds, and hazelnuts are all great. If you don’t like raisins, leave them out.

Oil:

  • A neutral-tasting oil like canola or avocado oil (not olive oil). I love using oil instead of butter; it makes the cakes moister and helps them keep better without drying out.

Baking soda or bicarbonate of soda:

  • Not baking powder. Baking soda has more power than the powder and helps this denser batter rise better.

Other ingredients: plain flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, a pinch of salt, large eggs, and 16 marzipan carrots for decorating the cake pieces.

Frosting ingredients: cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, icing sugar.

Full-fat cream cheese:

  • It’s preferable to use a block of cream cheese; it’s better for making any frosting because it contains less water. If you live in the US, that should be no problem.
  • However, that kind of cheese doesn’t exist in Europe. Instead, use regular cream cheese, soft but not whipped, and adjust the recipe as instructed below.

Step-by-step instructions

Carrot cake

  • Preheat the oven and line a baking dish with baking paper. I use a square springform of 9 ½ inches/24 cm, but another baking dish similar in size and shape is fine.
  • Prepare ingredients: Peel and grate the carrots on the box grater’s fine side (smaller holes) (1). Chop the walnuts. Set both aside.
  • Mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, and salt) in a large bowl using a spoon (2).
collage of two pictures of grated carrots in a bowl and another bowl with flour and sugar.
  • Wet ingredients: Pour the oil into the flour sugar mixture and mix shortly (3). Add the eggs one after another (4).
  • Fold the grated carrots, chopped nuts, and raisins into the egg mixture with a spoon.
collage of two pictures of adding oil and then carrots to cake batter.
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin (5).
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean (6).
  • Let cool in the baking dish for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.
collage of two pictures of unbaked and then baked carrot cake traybake.

Cream cheese frosting

  • With brick/block cream cheese: Beat together 7 oz/ 200 g cheese (room temperature) and 3.5 oz/ 100 g unsalted butter (soft), and vanilla extract with an electric hand whisk in a large mixing bowl until smooth (7). Beat in about 7oz/ 200 g icing sugar (8).
  • With tube cream cheese: Beat together 3.5 oz/ 100 g soft cheese (room temperature) and 3.5 oz/ 100 g unsalted butter (soft), and vanilla extract until combined, don’t overmix. Beat in 10.5 oz/ 300 g icing sugar, more if necessary.
collage of two pictures of beating cream cheese and sugar and then adding icing sugar.

Decorate: Spread the cream cheese icing on top of the cake using a palette knife or a large metal spoon (9), cut it into squares using a long serrated knife, and top each piece with a marzipan carrot or another decoration piece.

close up of cream cheese frosted cake.

Handy tips

  • A digital kitchen scale will give you the most precise measure ensuring the best bake possible.
  • You can also bake the carrot cake in a 9 ½ – 10 ½ inches/ 24-26 cm round cake form (springform).
  • You can leave the nuts and the raisins if you are allergic to nuts or don’t like raisins; the carrot traybake will still be delicious.
  • When grating the carrots, avoid long strands. Hold the carrot perpendicular when grating so that the strands are short.

Recipe FAQ

Does carrot cake taste like carrots?

No. The vegetables make the baked goods tender and moist.

Why is the frosting too soft?

It’s all about the cream cheese and its water content. In the US, use brick cream cheese; that would be perfect.
Anywhere in the world where brick cream cheese doesn’t exist, use equal parts of cheese and butter and enough icing sugar to get the right consistency.

Can I make it ahead?

We actually like the carrot cake traybake even better after spending one night in the fridge, it becomes slightly denser and moister, and the flavors develop.

How to store?

Refrigerate for 4-5 days in an airtight container.
Freeze the carrot cake traybake without the frosting. Wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in an airtight container. Defrost in the fridge.
If freezing with the frosting on top, pre-freeze it for about 1-2 hours until the frosting hardens. Wrap the cooled cake (or cake pieces) in plastic wrap, place it in an airtight container, and freeze. Once ready to thaw, remove the plastic wrap as soon as you take the cake out of the freezer. If you leave it on, it will stick to the thawed frosting.

close up of a square of carrot cake showing the moist crumb, another frosted piece beside it.

More traybake cakes

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many squares of frosted cake decorated with marzipan carrots.

Easy Carrot Cake Traybake

Our favorite carrot cake traybake with cream cheese frosting, spices, and walnuts, this simple cake is genuinely addictive.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cakes
Cuisine: American, English
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 42 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 395kcal
Author: Adina

Equipment

  • Square springform or another baking dish of about 9 ½ inches/24 cm.
  • Electric mixer

Ingredients 

Carrot cake:

  • 300 g carrots peeled 10.5 oz, Notes 2,3
  • 250 g all-purpose flour 2 cups/ 8.8 oz
  • 250 g granulated sugar 1 ¼ cup/ 8.8 oz
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon Note 4
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon star anise
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt or Kosher
  • 150 ml canola oil 2/3 cup/ 5 fl.oz
  • 4 eggs large
  • 55 g walnuts 1/3 cup chopped/ 2 oz
  • 55 g raisins ¼ cup/ 2 oz

Cream cheese frosting (Note 5):

  • 200 g brick cream cheese 7 oz, room temperature
  • 100 g unsalted butter 3.5 oz, soft
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 200 g icing sugar 2 cups/ 7 oz

Decoration:

  • 16 marzipan carrots optional

Instructions

Carrot cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F and line a baking dish with parchment paper.
  • Peel and grate the carrots on the box grater’s fine side (smaller holes). Chop the walnuts. Set both aside.
  • Mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, and salt) in a large bowl using a spoon.
  • Add oil and mix shortly.
  • Add the eggs one after another.
  • Add the grated carrots, chopped walnuts, and raisins and fold them in with a spoon.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • Let cool in the baking dish for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Cream cheese frosting:

  • With brick/block cream cheese: Beat together brick cream cheese, soft butter, and vanilla extract until smooth. Beat in the icing sugar.
  • With tube cream cheese: Beat together 3.5 oz/ 100 g soft cream cheese (room temperature) and 3.5 oz/ 100 g unsalted butter (soft), and vanilla extract until combined, don’t overmix. Beat in 10.5 oz/ 300 g icing sugar, more if necessary.
  • Frost cake: Spread the mixture over the cake with a palette knife or a spoon.
  • Cut into 16 squares and decorate each square with one marzipan carrot.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

  1. Use a digital kitchen scale to measure the ingredients when baking; it guarantees for best results.
  2. Grated, fresh ones. Don’t use pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store; they are always so dry, which will affect the texture of the cake.
  3. You will need 10.5 oz/ 300 g carrots (peeled), about 5-6 medium carrots but I recommend weighing that quantity on a kitchen scale. Those should be about 3 cups when grated, but I don’t trust cup measuring much; I prefer to know exactly what I’m doing.
  4. You can use only cinnamon if you like; you can use all-spice or another warm spice combination, for instance, pumpkin pie spices.
  5. If making the frosting with cream cheese from a tube, use 100 g/ 3.5 oz cream cheese, 100 g/ 3.5 oz unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 10.5 oz/ 300 g icing sugar, more if necessary.

Nutrition

Serving: 1square | Calories: 395kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 283mg | Potassium: 157mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 3517IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg
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