This moist, single-layer carrot snack cake recipe makes the best small carrot cake from scratch! The recipe includes two frosting options: classic cream cheese frosting or a unique and zesty orange citrus glaze.
for the carrot cake:
- 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. (4 grams) baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. (3 grams) baking soda
- 1 tsp. (2 grams) ground cinnamon
- 5/8 cup (124 grams) vegetable oil
- 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs (100 grams)
- 1 1/2 cups (144 grams) freshly grated raw carrots (about 2 large carrots)
- 1/2 cup (64 grams) finely chopped pecans (can substitute walnuts)
for the orange citrus glaze (choose one glaze/frosting):
- 1/2 cup (99 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 T (14 grams) cornstarch
- 1/2 cup (122 grams) orange juice
- 1/2 tsp. (3 grams) lemon juice
- 1 T (14 grams) unsalted butter
- 1 T (7 grams) grated orange rind
- 1/4 tsp. (2 grams) salt
for the cream cheese frosting (choose one glaze/frosting):
- 4 oz. (112 grams) full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. (2.5 grams) vanilla extract
- tiny pinch of salt
- 1 2/3 cups (189 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Prepare your cake pan (either a 9 inch round pan or an 8 inch square pan) by lining the pan with parchment paper. (Check out my post all about how to line baking pans with parchment paper for tips. If using a round cake pan, be sure to also butter and flour the pan by first coating 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.) Set the prepared pan aside.
- 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 for 10-15 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- 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 to room temperature 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 paddle 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.
Storage: Store leftover cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. For best taste, let cake sit at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes before serving.
Layer Cake: This recipe can be easily adapted to make a carrot layer cake. Follow the same recipe instructions for making the cake and the glaze/frosting. If making a layer cake, I love to use the orange citrus glaze between the cake layers and cream cheese frosting on the outside of the cake.
- For a 2 layer 9 inch cake, double the cake recipe and bake it in two 9 inch round cake pans. Use one recipe of orange glaze between the cake layers and a double recipe of cream cheese frosting for the top and side of the cake.
- For a 3 layer 6 inch cake, multiply the cake batter by 1.5 and divide the batter evenly among three 6 inch round cake pans. The cake layers will have the same thickness as a 9 inch cake, and so the bake time is the same as noted in the recipe. Use one recipe of orange glaze between the cake layers and 1.5x recipe of cream cheese frosting for the top and side of the cake.
Carrot cake and orange citrus glaze recipes adapted from a 1978 cookbook by Fire & Ice Restaurant in Middlebury, Vermont.
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Western European
Keywords: carrot cake, snack cake, cream cheese frosting, orange citrus glaze