This easy, delicious, moist carrot cake traybake is gently spiced and flavored with walnuts and grated carrots, and topped with delicious cream cheese icing!
Everyone loves carrot cake, and it's perhaps one of my favourite cakes. A carrot cake traybake or carrot sheet cake is hands down the easiest way to bake, and perhaps serve to a large crowd.
This carrot cake traybake recipe is based on my best-ever layered carrot cake. But it wasn't a direct conversion from a layer cake to a sheet cake or traybake. It required a few tweaks and adjustments to get the perfect bake and the perfect cake.
This carrot cake traybake or carrot sheet cake is perfect for any special occasion, such as a birthday, family gathering, or a bake sale, and makes a great Easter bake.
Here are some notes on the ingredients used in this recipe. Please see the recipe card for quantities.
Whole eggs - I use a New Zealand size 6 egg, which is an Aussie or South African Large Eggs, and a US/European Medium egg.
Spices - I used ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and mixed spice which can be substituted with a pumpkin spice mix.
Sugar - I like a mixture of brown sugar (light brown sugar or dark brown sugar) and white granulated sugar for this recipe.
Oil (neutral vegetable oil such as canola or bran oil)to add moisture to the carrot sheet cake.
Butter is also used in the cake (for moisture, and additional flavor) as well as in the cream cheese frosting. I used New Zealand butter which is similar to European-style butter.
Plain flour - which is all-purpose flour or standard-grade flour.
A mix of baking powder and soda (bicarbonate of soda or bread soda) for lift. If you are uncertain of how fresh yours are, simply add a quarter teaspoon into a cup and top with boiling water. If it fizzes, then it is still active. Test each one separately.
Grated carrot - fresh carrots, grated, is what gives this carrot cake tray bake its main flavor.
Vanilla extract and salt enhance the other flavors in the cake.
Chopped walnuts add a touch of crunch and added flavor to the actual cake. These can be substituted with chopped pecans. They are also used to decorate the top of the cream cheese icing.
Icing sugar (confectioner's sugar or powdered sugar) for the cream cheese frosting or icing.
Cream cheese - I use the full-fat cream cheese in block form, usually Philadelphia.
Lemon juice - either fresh lemon juice or reconstituted lemon juice adds a bit more tang to the cream cheese icing.
Step 1 - Preheat the oven to 170°C/340F. Peel and grate the carrots, and set aside. Finely chop the walnuts and set them aside. Grease and line a 13"x9" (33cm x 23cm) baking tray or baking pan or traybake pan with baking paper or parchment paper.
Step 2 - In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Toss in the walnuts and mix through.
Step 3 - In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer using a whisk attachment, or using an electric hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture has lightened and doubled in size. This takes about 3 to 5 minutes.
Step 4 - With the mixer running, slowly pour in the oil and melted butter into the egg mixture, allowing it to emulsify. Then add in the vanilla extract and mix through for about 20 seconds.
Step 5 - Fold the grated carrots through the wet ingredients. If using a stand mixer, swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
Step 6 - Add in the dry ingredients and mix gently until combined.
Step 7 - Pour the cake mix into the prepared tray and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. The cake is done when a cake tester comes out clean from the center of the cake.
Step 8 - Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then carefully turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Step 9 - Cream together the cream cheese frosting and butter together at a medium to high speed until both are well combined, soft and fluffy.
NOTE - Room temperature cream cheese and butter are essential for a smooth and creamy cream cheese frosting! During the cooler months, I also like to allow my bowls and mixer to warm up in sunny places.
Step 10 - Add the icing sugar to the cream cheese mixture and mix at a low speed. Then add in the lemon juice and mix through.
Step 11 - Load the top of the cake with the cream cheese frosting and spread it out evenly using a palette knife or offset spatula. Top off with chopped walnuts for decoration. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
NOTE - A cooled cake is a must before frosting. If the cake is not 100% cool, the icing or frosting will melt into the cake.
Expert Tips for this Recipe
- Use room temperature ingredients for the best outcome of the cake and cream cheese frosting.
- The cream cheese and butter must be at the same temperature to make sure they combine properly. I like to cut my butter into blocks before allowing it to come to room temperature.
- During the cooler months, I like to make sure my bowls and mixing equipment are also warmed up. I do this by placing them in the sun while everything else comes to room temperature. Or I run the outside of the bowls under warm water.
- Weighing out ingredients is best when it comes to baking. If you don't have a kitchen scale, fluff up the flour before scooping it into the measuring cup with a spoon and then level.
- Light-colored baking pans and trays are best when it comes to baking cakes. If your pan is dark (like mine is), I like to wrap the pan in foil to slow down baking on the edges and bottom of the pan.
- Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven dial is accurate.
- A preheated oven is an absolute must for the perfect outcome. The temperature is important for the activation of the leavening agents.
- If using a fan-forced, fan-assisted or convection oven reduce the temperature by 20°C/25°F
Baking Flat Cakes
To ensure you get layers or a sheet cake as flat as possible, check the following:
- The oven temperature. An oven that is too hot will result in domed cakes. Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is at the right temperature.
- Grease the sides of the cake tin. This allows the batter to rise the sides without gripping the sides.
- Use baking strips! Use damp cake pan baking strips to keep the sides of the cake tin cooler during the baking. This allows the side to rise at a similar rate to the center of the cake. Alternatively (the method I use) is to fold a piece of foil 4-to 5 times to create a strip (shiny side out) and wrap it around the outside of the tin. This is especially important for darker cake tins.
- Trimming the cakes is the last step in making flat layers. This can be done with a large serrated knife or wired cake leveler.
NOTE - the cake tins I used to bake this cake are rather dark, so I did wrap the tin in foil so that I would have a fairly even cake. I similarly wrap my rectangular cake tin for tray bakes to ensure a nice even bake.
Storage and Freezing
Carrot cakes are typically stored in the fridge for up to a week in an airtight container. This is because of the cream cheese frosting.
Slices of carrot cake can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
Carrot Cake Traybake FAQ
Carrot cakes are typically stored in the fridge for up to a week. In an airtight container.
Carrot cakes are rich moist spiced cakes usually topped with tangy cream cheese frosting or icing.
Yes. If freezing an entire frosted or iced carrot cake, allow it to freeze solid before wrapping it in plastic wrap and tin foil. Individual portions can also be frozen in this manner, just slice the cake before freezing!
Usually, pecans or walnuts are found in a carrot cake. Pecan nuts usually have a slightly sweeter taste than walnuts. Both are delicious in the cake.
The origin of the carrot cake is often disputed and may come from England, France, or Switzerland.
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Carrot Cake Tray Bake
- Stand Mixer OR
- Electric hand mixer
- Rectangular Cake Pan (13x9 Inch/33cmx23cm)
- 375 grams carrots (grated)
- 75 grams walnuts pecans
- 330 grams plain flour (plain, all-purpose, standard grade)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon mixed spice (or pumpkin spice mix)
- ¾ teaspoons table salt
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarb/bread soda)
- 4 eggs (medium/large/size 6)
- 110 grams light brown sugar (or dark brown sugar)
- 100 grams white granulated sugar (caster/granulated)
- 115 grams vegetable oil
- 115 grams butter (melted - 115g = 8 tbsp/1 stick)
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cream cheese frosting
- 170 grams cream cheese
- 113 grams butter
- 375 grams icing sugar (powdered/confectioner's)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 40 grams chopped walnuts (or pecans)
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/340F. Peel and grate the carrots, and set aside. Finely chop the walnuts and set them aside. Grease and line a 9"x13" baking tin.375 grams carrots, 75 grams walnuts
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Toss in the walnuts and mix through.330 grams plain flour, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, ¾ teaspoon ground ginger, ¾ teaspoon mixed spice, ¾ teaspoons table salt, 2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Either using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until the mixture has lightened and has doubled in size. This takes about 3 to 5 minutes.4 eggs, 110 grams light brown sugar, 100 grams white granulated sugar
- With the mixer running, slowly pour in the oil and melted butter, allowing it to emulsify. Then add in the vanilla and mix through for about 20 seconds.115 grams vegetable oil, 115 grams butter, 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Fold the grated carrots through the wet ingredients. If using a stand mixer, swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
- Add in the dry ingredients and mix gently until combined.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. The cake is done when a cake tester comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, before turning it out onto a wired cooling rack.
- Cream together the cream cheese frosting and butter together at a medium to high speed until both are well combined, soft and fluffy.170 grams cream cheese, 113 grams butter
- Add the icing sugar to the cream cheese mixture and mix together at a low speed. Then add in the lemon juice and mix through.375 grams icing sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Load the cake with the cream cheese frosting and spread it out evenly. Top off with chopped walnuts for decoration. Slice, serve and enjoy!40 grams chopped walnuts
Storage and FreezingCarrot cakes are typically stored in the fridge for up to a week in an airtight container. This is because of the cream cheese frosting. Slices of carrot cake can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
Nutrition information is an estimate. If scaling the recipe remember to scale your cook and bakeware accordingly. All temperatures stated are conventional, unless otherwise stated. Recipes tested in grams and at sea level.