This carrot snack cake is homemade from scratch, and it's the absolute BEST! It's moist, perfectly spiced, and simply to die for. Plus this recipe includes not one but two toppings to choose from: classic cream cheese frosting or a unique and luscious orange citrus glaze.
for the carrot cake:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 5/8 cup vegetable oil (can substitute unsweetened applesauce, though cake will be slightly less moist)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated raw carrots (about 2 large carrots)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (can substitute walnuts)
for the orange citrus glaze (choose one glaze/frosting):
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 T cornstarch
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 T unsalted butter
- 1 T grated orange rind
- 1/4 tsp. salt
for the cream cheese frosting (choose one glaze/frosting):
- 4 oz. full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
- 4 T (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- tiny pinch of salt
- 1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare your cake pan and set aside. (If using a 9 in. round cake pan, butter and flour the pan by first coat the interior of the pan with a thin layer of butter, making sure to coat the entire bottom, into the edge, and up the sides. Sprinkle some flour into the pan and shake it over the sink so that all of the butter is covered by a dusting of flour. Dump out any excess flour. If using an 8 in. square pan, line the pan with parchment paper (check out this post for a tutorial).)
- Make the carrot cake. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine vegetable oil and sugar and whisk to combine.
- Add half of the flour mixture to the oil mixture and stir to combine. Then add one egg, whisking to combine. Add the remaining flour mixture and stir before adding the final egg and whisking just until blended.
- Add grated carrots and pecans and stir until blended.
- Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs (but no raw batter). Allow the cake to cool in the pan before removing.
- Make the orange citrus glaze (skip ahead to step #9 if using cream cheese frosting). Add sugar and cornstarch to a small saucepan and whisk to combine. Combine orange juice and lemon juice and slowly add the juices to the sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.
- Add butter, grated orange rind, and salt to the saucepan. Cook the mixture over low heat until thick and glossy, about 5 to 10 minutes. Allow the glaze to cool before spreading over the cake.
- Make the cream cheese frosting (skip this step if using orange glaze). In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer), beat cream cheese and butter on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and salt and beat to combine. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add confectioners’ sugar until all the sugar is added. Then beat on high speed until the mixture is well combined and creamy.
- Glaze or frost the cake. Once the cake has cooled completely, transfer the cake to a cake stand or serving platter. Use a small, offset spatula or a rubber spatula to spread the (cooled) orange citrus glaze or cream cheese frosting over the cake. Slice the cake into 9 pieces and serve.
Store leftover cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Carrot cake and orange citrus glaze recipes adapted from a 1978 cookbook by Fire & Ice Restaurant in Middlebury, Vermont.
Keywords: carrot cake, snack cake, Easter dessert, carrot snack cake, cream cheese frosting, orange citrus glaze