It has been 1 year, 6 months and 6 days since I last shared a recipe for a stacked, filled, and unconscionably indulgent layer cake on this site, an unforgivable oversight on my part. I certainly haven’t gone that long without sharing any cake recipes — I’m not a monster — but sometimes you need more than an Everyday Cake. Sometimes you need a great big celebratory ta-da in the center of your table. Sometime like now.
Because the pastel-ed idea, if not the outdoor temperatures, of spring seems to have infected my existence and I’m not even fighting it — my nails are a shade of pink that can only describe as “bunny nose,” I, someone who mostly lives in variations of black and gray, just bought a patterned and brightly colored dress, we’ve had asparagus twice this month, unable to wait any longer for it to emerge from local soil, and my hands are stained orange from all of the carrots I’ve grated into cake week. Around here, these are the harbingers of spring.
This idea of this cake, like a lot of ideas rattling around in my “attic,” stems from a bunch of places that all collided this week on a discount cake stand. The first is the S’More Cake from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. As my son approached his 2nd birthday, I became obsessed with making a graham cracker cake for him because he, like most 2 year-olds with tastebuds, had grown fond of them. But why just make a graham cake when you can make the cake embodiment of the greastest things you can pile on graham crackers: a puddle of melted chocolate and tufts of toasted marshmallow? It took me forever to get cake layers that tasted like graham crackers; I tried everything and the only thing that really nailed it was replacing half the flour with graham cracker crumbs itself, which, like most circular definitions, may not have adequately illuminated the concept of graham crackers, but everyone was too busy enjoying cake to take scientific issue with the concept.
I hadn’t thought about graham cake layers again until a year ago, when my family and I went to Blue Hill at Stone Barns for a very long and very fancy lunch to celebrate my mom’s very big birthday. For dessert, they brought her a parsnip, carrot and graham cake with thin layers and open sides and it was all very April-ish yet somehow — maybe the parsnip flavor was too strong for my tastes? — got translated on my cooking wishlist to a carrot-graham layer cake.
Finally, I think this site — and by this site, I mean my belly — has been long overdue for a really great carrot layer cake. Sure, there are carrot cake cupcakes, though I’ve always wished they were more carroty and less cake-y. There’s also this carrot-cider-olive oil hearty breakfast loaf from last fall. But there wasn’t this: an intensely orange, sticky, moist, finely layered quintessential carrot cake with trace flavors of graham crackers stacked with all the cream cheese frosting your heart desires. Needless to say, mine desires a lot.
One year ago: Whole Grain Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Two years ago: Chocolate Hazelnut Macaroon Torte
Three years ago: Raspberry Coconut Macaroons
Four years ago: Spaetzle
Five years ago: Romesco Potatoes
Six years ago: Beef Empanadas
Seven years ago: Chicken with Almonds and Green Olives
Eight years ago: Arugula Ravioli
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Latke Waffles
1.5 Years Ago: Frico Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
2.5 Years Ago: Crackly Banana Bread
3.5 Years Ago: Apple and Honey Challah
Carrot Graham Layer Cake
Adapted from Taste of Home and TSKC’s S’More Cake
My favorite part about this cake is that after you’re done with the pesky grating of carrots (I used a food processor, which makes quick work of it), you mix everything by hand so it really comes together in no time and the layers, each a mere 1/2-inch thick, bake in all of 15 minutes and come out flat, requiring no leveling or fancy decorating to make a pretty stacked cake. My next favorite part is the sheer, colossal amount of carrots in it. I thought it would be impossible to bake a full cup of grated carrots into a thin cake layer, but it turned out wonderfully, soft, tender and likely more vegetables than my 5 year-old had ingested in that day, to be honest. My go-to oils for neutral cooking oils these days are sunflower or safflower oil; grape seed would work too (or, of course, any oil you like to cook with).
The frosting amount is generous. You’ll have just shy of a cup more than you’ll need to frost it as I’ve shown it (which can be saved for tinting and decorating, if you wish). That said, I had intended to put a little more between each layer (closer to what you see on the top) but just didn’t plan well. Had I, I think I’d have used it up. Or, if you’d like to cover the sides of the cake, you should have enough.
Finally, do you live somewhere where you can’t get graham crackers? Try digestive biscuits or speculoos, just grind them as finely as you can.
Yield: 1 9-inch 3-layer cake
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (95 grams) finely ground graham cracker crumbs, plus extra for decoration if you wish
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or a bunch of gratings of fresh
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (145 grams) dark brown sugar
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (210 grams) neutral oil or melted butter (i.e. 1 tablespoon short of 1 cup)
3 large eggs
3 cups (about 12 3/4 ounces or 360 grams) peeled and grated carrots
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (455 grams total)
1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces or 230 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Make the cake: Heat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line three 9-inch cake pans with a fitted round of parchment paper and coat with a nonstick cooking spray. Don’t have three matching cake pans? Me neither. As soon as you finish baking and unmolding the first cake layer, wipe out the baking pan, put down a new round of parchment and coat the pan with spray before using it again.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, graham crumbs, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk (yes, you can use the same one) together the sugars, oil and eggs until smooth. Stir in grated carrots. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until flour just disappears.
Pour batter evenly between three prepared baking pans. Bake each layer for 15 to 18 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cake will seem soft and likely still sticky on top. Let rest in cake pans for 5 minutes on a cooling rack, then run a knife around the edges of the first cake layer to ensure no parts are sticking to the sides, flip cake out onto cooling rack, remove parchment paper and flip back right-side-up on another cooling rack. Repeat with remaining layers and let the cake layers cool completely before filling. To hurry the cooling process along, and to make this very soft cake easier to handle, you can place cake layers in your freezer until cool and slightly firm.
Fill the cake With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth and fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar, a little at a time. Beat in vanilla until combined.
Arrange first cake layer on a cake plate or stand. Spread top with frosting; repeat twice with remaining layers. If desired, sprinkle top decoratively with extra graham crumbs — I used a cookie cutter to make a loose outline of a flower shape on mine. Let cake chill until serving.
Do ahead: Cake is wonderful on the first day, and even more moist on the second and third and I’ve never met a person who had one last four days. Keep in fridge. To prepare further in advance, you can make the cake layers, wrap them well and freeze them until you’re ready to fill the cake.
370 comments on carrot graham layer cake
It’s my dads birthday and I was just about to search cake recipes- you saved my life!
Will this recipe work to make cupcakes?
What cake pan did you use to get the thin .5 inch layers?
This cake is absolutely delicious, but my layers come out much shorter than yours look in the photos. Any tips for a taller cake? Could the recipe be doubled for more height?
Same here. This is my second time making this (I shouldn’t have wasted my time; I will probably have to try again with a Seriouseats recipe tomorrow). I think she used smaller pans than the 9” the recipe calls for?
I love your graham cake recipe. I’ve made the s’mores cake, but I’ve also used the graham batter to make cupcakes filled with lime curd and topped with whipped cream – a key lime pie cupcake!
This carrot graham cake sounds delicious, I think I may have to make it for Easter!
I just have two (deeper) 9 in. cake pans — do you think the amount would divide evenly into those?
You’re better off doing that. If you use the amount her recipe calls for in 3 pans, you will get 3 1/4” layers.
Carrot cake is my love! Thank you for the recipe, I must really try it out although I’m not so skilled in baking :)
Grating question – my Cuisinart’s grating blade makes tough little carrot rods, half-round in cross-section, rather than soft flakes like a hand grater. Will they be too big and tough for the cake? They are not right for carottes rapees salad, and I have discovered that simply chopping the carrots with the steel blade and stopping before they turn to puree – at a sort of tabbouli-like texture – works nicely for that. Might it work for the cake?
I’m too lazy to hand grate, I’m afraid, even for that lovely-looking cake.
I understand carrots don’t really have a lot of flavor on their own – aside from the pretty color they add their flavor is pretty bland and neutral. So I always wonder why people are so against adding the delicious pockets of sweetness that are raisins/currants, the moist and chewy texture of crushed pineapple and a few pecans for good measure?
I love the “yes you can use the same one” about the whisk. Its something I always do (I’m also tremendously lazy), but I’m sure you’ve been asked more than once if the same whisk can be used.
Ariel — You wouldn’t even need deeper ones to make this into a two-layer cake. I just wanted the layers thin here. So, yes, you can use deeper pans or standard ones to make this into a 2-layer cake. The layers won’t be terribly tall. The Taste of Home recipe I riffed on uses 133% of this batter to make a 2 taller/more standard layer cake.
Madeleine — Wait, are you sure you’re not using the slicing blade? That’s what my slicing blade does. (I have a Cuisinart too.)
Holy cow, I am going to make this! Thanks for the amazing recipe! I suppose I could bake all of the batter in a sheet pan and use my cake ring to cut the layers out a la Christina Tosi style. What size sheet do you think I would need?
I love this! I’m allergic to walnuts and it seems all carrot cakes come with heaps of the things everywhere. I love carrot cake (sans walnuts) but haven’t been bothered to make it myself as it is a bit of work. This looks like just the right amount of work for the right cake.
I absolutely love this flavour combination! Graham crackers have such a neat flavour on their own, so adding some cake (and carrot cake at that!) to the mix sounds great!
I have been CRAVING carrot cake for a while and this sounds delish! The only problem is that I don’t need a full cake in the house and my monsters will not eat this, no matter the amount of cream cheese frosting. For ease of transportation, do you think this would work in a 9×13, which I could cut horizontally, fill with the frosting and put back in the pan, in order to share with my office mates?
Carrot cake makes me so happy. My wedding cake — which I shamelessly stole from my cousin’s bar mitzvah cake — was a carrot cake with raspberry layers and marzipan fondant. It was glorious.
You know, we have Elephant and Piggie books, but Lilli doesn’t seem very interested in them right now. Maybe a little too mature? Someone gave her Knuffle Bunny for her 2nd birthday two months ago and they are now in the bedtime rotation.
Bless you for not ruining this recipe with raisins or nuts. :) Can’t wait to try it!
I found my birthday cake! For the last few years I’ve been using my birthday (coming up in a few weeks) to indulge my desire to make whatever kind of cake *I* want as opposed to what my family or coworkers like. I was casting about for something to make for this year and now you posted this! I love the idea of graham crackers with carrot cake.
I have this seemingly never-ending box of graham cracker crumbs that I am very slowly whittling down by using them in streusels and fruit crisp recipes to replace the oats that are usually called for. And a 5lb bag of carrots that I don’t know what I was thinking about when I bought that many. (they are all fat carrots, which enticed me..I like the fatties!) So, graham carrot cake is the answer!
Did you use some sort of collar around the layers to spread the frosting against so it is so flat and neat? I just make a mess on the sides of cake layers that I hope to expose then end up frosting the whole thing because of it. Ugh!
LOVE IT!!!! What would you think about using the maple syrup-cream cheese frosting from your cupcake recipe? I’m a little obsessed with it.
Yum! Carrot cake is one of my all time favorites! This looks fabulous, can’t wait to try this recipe!
Sally — It would be delicious. The biggest complaint about that in the comments is the softness — all cream cheese frostings are fairly soft, and that one, with the liquid sweetener is more so — but it shouldn’t matter here at all.
Susan — No, no collar, just careful frosting and a little swiping with a straight edge when I was done. Always push frosting to where you want it, is my tip. It gives the most control and little mess.
Molly — I think Jacob’s obsession with them took over after 3. And then, forget it. We have every. single. book. They really are funny, which makes them more fun to read, a good, not over- or underwhelming length. And, given that so many artistically created kids books are so expensive, refreshingly budget-priced. Which is why we have so many. Our favorites are I Broke My Trunk! Let’s Go For a Drive, Listen to My Trumpet and Should I Share My Ice Cream? I could recite any of them right now. :)
Madeleine– I chop carrots for carrot cake in my cuisinart by making exactly the tabbouli texture you described. Works wonderfully– they impart carrot flavor but the crumb is nice and tender and there are no long throat-dangly pieces to choke overeager little eaters. (One difference is that I use over a pound of carrots in a 4 layer cake baked as 2 rounds, with a longer baking time.)
Looks and sounds delicious. Must have this soon!
If you’re looking for a carrot-y cake, I have loved this reiteration of Brazilian carrot cake. It tastes like caramelized, sugary carrot and is great even without a smidgen of chocolate. (Maybe I eat for breakfast…) I still something put a ganache on top anyway because YUM.
Gabrielle, Madeline, I concur about the food processor grating blade – I have a Black & Decker brand and I think I threw out the grating blade because it just made “rods” not thin shavings. I usually hand grate for salads or cakes but I might use the chopping blade for cakes now! Thanks for the tip!
This looks delicious! Though I just made your carrot cake cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting a couple weekends ago for my son’s first birthday and it was a huge hit. I made it as a layer cake and it turned out really well. I’m not sure how you could improve on it, but this graham cracker flavored variation looks delicious!
Uh, delicious – I haven’t had a carrot cake in eons. Same impatience here: I’ve cooked Meyer lemon risotto with asparagus, fresh peas, broad bean bruschetta, artichokes again, I have enough of cold, dark & dank days. Love this cake and the brightly coloured orange fingers… N.
I tried a graham cracker cake at Thanksgiving this past year for the first time, and it was fantastic. This combination of carrot cake and graham crackers looks phenomenal – indeed, sometimes life just calls for an indulgent layer cake!
No nuts? I love carrot cake with walnuts. (Not raisins though) I’d like to add nuts- maybe 1 cup?
I think the Easter bunny’s love for carrot cake will be the perfect reason to make this next week. Love that it has no nuts or raisins. I might try using coconut oil to see how it goes.
This looks so good! I’ve never used fresh nutmeg but I bet it would be awesome. Is nutmeg easy to shave/grate? Or is it tough like cinnamon bark?
awesome! I wanna try this already this weekend and I have one silly question (but important in terms of not ruining the cake): if I want to speed up the cooling process and put the first layer in the freezer, can I do it straight away from the oven or do I have to wait until it cools down a bit? I am always confused in this step!
thank you! can’t wait to try!
Bonita — Yes, but you’re going to unmold it onto a cooling rack first, so it wouldn’t be straight from the oven. Plus, on a rack, it’s better at cooling because cool air will be underneath it too.
Kate — It’s very hard, maybe harder than cinnamon. You can grate it on the zesting blade of a Microplane, the one you’d use for citrus.
Mary — You could probably add about 3/4 cup chopped nuts.
Kate — The biggest difference between the two is that this uses a lot more carrot in proportion to the other ingredients.
Cuisinart grating blade — I wish I was following. I have had a Cuisinart FP forever; I always use the grating blade. It’s definitely more of a coarse grate but not discs. (Only the slicing blade does that.) Anyway, I used it here, for the gratings you see above, and it works just fine for the purposes of this recipe.
Hi, I’m always up for trying out a new cake recipe, but is there a suitable UK substitute for graham crackers? I have no idea even what kind of biscuit they are.
Lizzie — Yes, I’d use digestives and grind them as finely as you can.
As someone who LOVES carrot cake and is dying to make this but lives in a country where graham crackers aren’t a thing (New Zealand), what would you recommend as a replacement? TBH I’m not even entirely sure what a graham cracker is, I usually use digestive biscuits as a replacement in cheesecake bases etc… but would they work flavourwise for this?
I “share” my birthday with my favorite local comic shop, so I typically bake a cake to celebrate both birthdays and this looks perfect!
Deb! This is everyyyything I want in a carrot cake: no raisins or pineapples to distract from the carrots, a cream cheese frosting and graham crackers? Brilliant. I’m getting on this!
I adore carrot cake, and bless you for leaving out the raisins/nuts/pineapple. This is the carrot cake of my dreams!
In the recipe I found many years ago, I changed out the oil for Apple sauce. it made a wonderful, moist cake.
This looks so delicious! And off the topic of food, but on the topic of your fingernail polish and dress choices…someone told me that when you are pregnant, you dress to the sex of your child. Not intentionally, and often before you know it, but there are definite leanings–more dark colors for boys, more girly colors for girls! It’ll be interesting to see how that works for you. Totally not scientific, but fun to think about!
So gorgeous! I’ve had carrot cake on my to make list for a while, so I need to make the leap!
The recipe says you can use oil or butter. Do you have a preference? How will the cake be different depending on what you use?
Danica — Uh-oh! And I am pretty sure I wore nothing but black, brown, gray and maaaybe one dusty blue dress the whole time with Jacob (when I didn’t know either).
rfnc — I used oil. In general, with butter, you get flavor, and with oil, you get moisture, as cakes with oil tend to seem more moist from the get go. However, this cake is so insanely moist, there’s no reason to use oil in it just for that reason; you should hopefully not find it remotely dry either way.
I think MadeleineC means that her grating blade makes cylinders of carrot, but cut in half [like a tin can cut from top to bottom]. I had a box grater that did the same thing.
I’d love to make this in a 9×13 pan — any idea on baking time?
Solely based on titles, I kind of want to read all of those books now. I assume the answer to the last one is a resounding “No!”? :-) (and Listen to My Trumpet is an outstanding band name)
Mmm looks so yummmmy <3
Wow. this looks really delicious. I love carrot cake.
Mmm, carrots & graham… do you think this would work as a single-layer 13×9 cake? I love the visuals of layer cake but never want to fuss in my own daily life.
I never liked carrot cake as a kid, but I have come to love it now!
I love how many carrots are crammed into this cake! A slice of that would, without a doubt, be more vegetables then my preschooler normally has in a day! That offsets the frosting right?!
I just have to say that I absolutely love your writing. I’m also obsessed with the sound and look of this extra carrot-y cake too, of course, but your words are so lovely, understated and elegant and just wonderful. Thank you so much for all that you do!
This looks so wonderful. Perfect for Easter celebrations.
Why not just one cup of oil or butter in the batter, Deb? Does one tablespoon really make a difference? Sounds like a luscious cake…thanks for the yummy recipe! Always a treat to come home from work and enjoy your writing!
JP — I know! I’m being spectacularly annoying here. I couldn’t bring myself to round it up — carrot cake usually uses more oil than other cakes to begin with, but it works — or down — i.e. it works. I don’t think anyone will be able to tell if you just use a cup. I’m probably just too tightly wound to do it. :)
cynthia — Hey, thank you, and right back at you!
9×13-inch — Yes, this would totally work in a bigger pan. I think you could use 3/4 cup the frosting. I’d expect the layer to be maaaybe 1.5 inches thick, so not terribly tall.
Christina — It also has such awesome sound effects as BLUUUUUUUURRRK! and VR-IP! Total giggle bait.
Are blog readers allowed to gain sympathy pregnancy weight?!?!?!
Can I use cake flour instead of all purpose?
In your next to last photo, the middle stem of the cake stand seems straight but why does it appear that the plate part of the stand and the cake seem to be slanting downhill to the right?
The first photo looks fine, even.
Gorgeous cake, that I’m sure I’ll bake soon. Tiny grammar note: if you have three pans you divide the batter among them; you can divide it between only if there are only two. I know, I inherited this annoying grammar OCD from my mom, but it really makes my teeth itch.
BTW, this morning I baked your black-bottom oatmeal pie for my bridge group tomorrow. It looks absolutely perfect and it is killing me not to try a piece in advance. The recipe for the chocolate and oatmeal layers would have made two pies; I do wish I had known that in advance. I even had two crusts, but didn’t figure this out until I already had gone too far to divide them.
Just made the cakes! Waiting for them to cool so I can frost. CAN NOT WAIT!
Hold the phone for a moment – what exactly IS graham? I’m yet to encounter someone from outside the US who has heard of ‘graham’, and to describe the taste is quite difficult. Try to find graham crackers outside the US? Impossible, or impossible expensive. What is graham? Is there a way to replicate it?
This sounds mouthwateringly delicious! So clever to add graham crackers… Also, I adore your cookbook, your Banana Tarte Tatin is a frequent visitor to my kitchen. Thank you for such outstanding recipes!
I cannot believe it. The carrot cake of my dreams and just one day too late. Last night I literally baked your carrot cupcake recipe into two 8-inch layers for a friend’s birthday cake for Saturday (they are currently in the freezer awaiting a trim and final frost.) All day I’ve been hemming and hawing over the fact that I wanted to make a taller cake and should begrudgingly bake two more layers. As I entered my kitchen tonight, the new recipe pops up. I will bake these and I will alternate layers and they will be none the wiser. Who can say no to a 5-layer carrot cake? Certainly not me.
Thank you so much for such tried and true recipes. You are always my go-to. Looking forward to the second book :)
Should I try to make it, …. here in Norway?
This is amazing! I love the addition of graham crackers! I’m so sad Australia doesn’t have graham crackers, I’d be on this cake straight away! Carrot cake is my absolute favourite cake. I’ve been loving all the different variations bloggers have been creating these past few weeks. Yours is certainly one of the more creative versions I’ve read! Love that you’ve kept the cream cheese frosting though. Can’t have a carrot cake without the cream cheese frosting – it just isn’t proper! Beauty recipe as usual!
Oh my does this cake sounds fantastic! I’m getting a big box of graham crackers. As a kid, we ate them spread with leftover icing. I still love them. As an adult, I discovered graham cracker ice cream! And now in carrot cake! Life becomes a little more complete as each day passes!
Carrot cake is one of my favorite. I can’t wait to make this for my sister IL birthday. I live in Chile, so we don’t have graham crakers either, do you think making your graham crakers recepie from scratch only to grate them would be too much work? I have TSKC and I’ve always wanted to make the smoor cake from Jacob’s birthday but beeing stopped for the same reason. I love love the way you cook, and all the effort you put on making the best flavors possible. I love to eat, and the peanut chocolate cake it’s one of my familys favorite. By the way, are you sure that the grams of butter in the frosting are 125? For 8oz or two sticks I think it’s 250. Good food!
Cupcakes? Recipe looks amazing and want to make it for a large Easter gathering that’s buffet with mostly pick up food. Thanks!
For those in Europe, you might try Speculoos cookies to replace the graham crackers. You’d have to adjust the spice levels a bit since Speculoos already have a lot of spice themselves, but I think those have the right flavor and texture for this cake.
For someone who loves carrot cake, I am so excited to try this! Any chance you could experiment with a strawberry cake that has real strawberries in it? :-)?
Surprised and curious that graham crackers are a US invention, I checked a few spots for shipping them. Walmart and Amazon sell them online and Vitacost.com is around $5/standard box with a $15 shipping fee to Chile. But you need to check any restrictions at your end, as there is no refund if stopped at the border. The good news is that Sylvester Graham invented them as part of his diet to stop carnal urges. Now that sounds like our Puritan genes at work!
Lovely recipe. You are definitely the best in this game. Thanks for all your talent and your desire to share it!
A semi-self sufficient and mostly responsible adult, I still harbor a deep love of graham crackers and have a box on hand at all times for impromptu sprinkling and snacking. I love the idea of combining them with carrot cake. What a happy idea for spring!
Thanks, Gabrielle, for the confirmation of my grating experience with my particular Cuisinart FP. I will try the cake with finely chopped carrot. Deb, I think your confusion about my question may come from Cuisinart’s penchant for constantly tweaking models and parts, as evidenced by anyone trying to replace a part for their particular model. I think some of us have grating blades with bigger holes. The stiff little carrot rods I get are not much bigger than what you show in your photo, but they are thicker, longer and too stiff to curve softly the way yours do.
Just to be clear – what should be the actual weight of the prepared, grated carrots? (I always have a hard time measuring them – lightly or firmly pressed into the cup?)
i live abroad and have no access to graham crackers…can you recommend a suitable substitute? i want to make this cake for my son’s 1st birthday.
Regarding your recent “stacked, filled, and unconscionably indulgent layer cakes”, I just thought I’d remind you of Valerie’s cake filled with the chocolate whipped cream. It is one of my absolute favorites from this site.
I love this idea of carrot AND graham crackers! What could be better? few years ago I played with wheat germ & whole wheat flour for a s’mores cake. Why I didn’t just use graham crackers is beyond me!!
Em, thank you so much for cheking that out. Deb, you have the nicest fans, if I do say so myself! Sadly I’ve never seen that food is possible to be shipped here, not from amazon at least. I wish I could explain to chilean customs how puritan they are so they could let them through. And maybe some sinful valrhona chocolate too.
If you can’t get graham crackers — Try digestive biscuits or, as suggested here (thank you) speculoos. Note now added in headnotes.
Nancy — The weight of the carrots listed is the weight of the peeled grated cups. To buy carrots, round up, i.e. buy a pound to be safe to accommodate for trimming, peeling and variances in the weight of the cups.
Madeleine — Ah, now I see. Well, mine is definitely 10 to 11 years old so things might have been different. Too bad they changed something that worked well; that said, I’m glad I know now as I often suggest people use the grating blade in recipes, and have always assumed they’re getting the same results as me. Plus, hand-grating is the worst. (I did about half a carrot before I decided that a carrot cake that needed finely grated carrots would never be worth my time. And voila, it works fine with coarsely grated.) One more tip: A commenter on FB mentioned that she bought this additional fine grating disc from Cuisinart, which who knows, might earn its keep quickly with a recipe like this. :)
Lydia — Well, there is this one but I’m dying to make an even more lush one, with chunks. I also dream of a roasted peaches and cream layer cake. I keep trying to convince my son to let me do one of these for his birthday, but all he wants is chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and I’ve apparently reached that age where I no longer have the energy to make clever cakes for my own birthday, as I once did. Maybe our next kid will only like cakes with fruit! :)
Priscilla — Thank you, and yes, totally correct on the butter. Sticks here are 4 ounces, 8 tablespoons, 1/4 pound or 113 grams.
MaryM — Thanks, now fixed. Re, the oatmeal pie, someone else commented the same and I was surprised because I used a pretty standard and not large generic pie tin and it was the right amount for it. May I ask what pie pan you used? Clearly standard means different things to different manufacturers.
kathy — Probably because I’m not a professional photographer and never use rigs to hold my camera straight. :)
Notes on Tea — Yes, as long as it is not self-rising, but it is not necessary here at all to make a tender cake. It’s quite soft and tender without it.
I always use butter and cream it with the sugars–but I also use pumpkin in my carrot cakes (or butternut squash, or acorn squash; whatever’s in the freezer) to replace some of the butter. The other thing I do is roast the carrots after grating. Basically, spread them out on sheet pans and stick in the oven for an hour or so, moving the carrot around two or three times. You can go even longer, but the hour is enough to remove a lot of the moisture, thereby concentrating the flavor and removing some of the sogginess that can result when you use a LOT of carrots, the way I like to do. I can send you my last iteration of the recipe if you really need to try yet another carrot cake. :-)
Wow… what an awesome cake!!! Got any ideas how to make a kosher for passover version?
Holy HECK this looks good! Carrot cake is my favourite thing. Question for you – if I wanted to make a smaller version of this is it as simple as reducing the recipe by 25%, 50%, whatever I choose, and getting a smaller cake pan to accommodate, or will I have issues? What would you recommend? Thanks!
So, I am wanting to make carrot cake cupcakes for Easter, will this translate into cupcakes?
Heather — I think they’d make good cupcakes. Might not have much of a dome, but that shouldn’t be an issue once iced.
Jocelyn — Depends on what size you want it to end up. If you’d like a 3-layer cake, just smaller, you can halve this recipe in 6-inch round pans for a very cute cake. If you’d like to just make it 2 layers at the same size instead of 3, you can reduce everything by 1/3 (and the frosting moreso as there’s already extra).
Carol — I’m not sure how it would work with matzo cake meal without trying it but a what looks favorable for translation is that the amount of flour is pretty small here; most of the structure comes from the carrots and eggs. I’d estimate a 1/2 cup matzo cake meal replacement on each layer — that is, for the 1/4 cup graham AND the 1/3 cup flour for each layer.
Deb, the pie pan I used was actually a 9-inch regular frozen crust from Pet-Ritz. Probably holds less than a homemade of the same size. I know, I know, homemade and all that. I made a pie crust once, it was pretty good, but not enough better than the frozen kind to justify the mess. I figure now that I have proved I can do it, I don’t have to. I have a friend who makes truly glorious pie crusts, so no point in trying to outdo her anyway!
MaryM — No need to apologize for store-bought crusts! If there was ever a pie where the lack of homemade crust would be the least noticeable in the final pie, it would be this one (i.e. there’s no lid or lattice and so much otherwise going on flavor-wise). It’s helpful to know; I’ll try to see if anyone else using a storebought crust had extra. Thanks.
Thank you BIG time for the perfect Easter dessert.
I just found a bag of graham flour for $2! I’m really thinking of trying this with graham flour…I’ll report back!
My family has a recipe for carrot cake that uses carrot baby food in place of grated carrots. It is ridiculously moist and delicious and is the only carrot cake I’ll eat. I may have to make an exception for this one. I’m totally intrigued by the graham cracker addition!
Had anyone noticed that the recipe for graham cracker crumbs has changed, and now taste sweeter and more artificial? I now buy the “original” Graham Cracker cookies, in the red box, and put them in a food processor to make crumbs that taste normal.
Carrot cake + graham crackers = a marriage made in heaven. I cannot wait to give this cake a try. Carrot cake is the hubby’s favorite cake…so there will be lots of excuses to make and dazzle him.
Wonderful! And I’m so glad you decided against the parsnips :-) Going to make this for my lovely mother-in-law, she loves carrot cake.
#68 – Lydia, Deb’s got one already! http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/10/pink-lady-cake/
RE: the Cuisinart FP carrot grating dilemma: I have the same problem with too-thick grated carrots, and sometimes I cannot be bothered to hand-grate carrots for an entire carrot cake. My solution is to grate them in my food processor, then steam them briefly on the stove (5 minutes, maybe?), until they are just starting to get tender. Obviously, you don’t want them to get mushy, so you have to pay attention, but after they are slightly tender, you can toss them into your cake batter and they will bake up just fine. They haven’t ever seemed too bulky in the cake, as long as they are pre-cooked. I know this solution isn’t optimal, but it could net you a cake this weekend! :)
This carrot cake sounds AMAZING and I love the cake to frosting ratio – it’s aaaall about the frosting!
Wow! You make it look so simple. I may have to try it!
What an amazing pairing of flour+cookie!!! It sort of reminds me of my FAVORITE PUMPKIN PIE, from a cafe called Urth Caffe in LA and the crust is a super thick graham cookie pretty much! I bet this is just as good….
This cake looks so delicious, and I think this would make a perfect dessert for Easter. I love the look of the natural sides without frosting.
#68-Lydia, also Check out this delicious Deb foray into strawberries:
carrot cake is one of my all time favorites – and this cake looks amazing!!!
Deb, this cake looks so delicious. Love the cream cheese frosting. I don’t make layered cakes that much, but would love to try this one.
I need this to be in my face. Alas, Husband hates carrot cake (I know, I married a monster!) and I have no excuses to bake a cake anytime soon. I haz a sad.
I have chocolate graham crumbs, would that work with mini chicolate chips go decorate the icing top?
I made this cake tonight and it was incredible! Everyone proclaimed it to be “the best carrot cake” they’d ever tasted and I have to agree. I baked it in 2 layers and used the extra frosting for the sides (I made the maple cream cheese frosting discussed in the comments). I grated the carrots with my grating blade on my Cuisinart food processor and it worked perfectly.
I have been contemplating on Passover Seder dessert, whether to go with german chocolate cake or a strawberry vanilla cream cake and then saw your carrot cake that pushed the two cakes off the table! We are gluten free and dairy free and don’t see substituting flour, butter, etc a problem; my question is: can I triple the recipe without affecting the results? We are having a large seder and this looks like it could be a hit and easier than most cakes.
Deb, this looks great! How many cups of batter does this cake end up making? I am trying to convert this recipe for larger pans and would like to know how much I need to scale it by.
Congratulations on expecting another baby! My #3 is due at the end of August. :) I love carrot cake and wish I could come help you eat this one. It looks fantastic!
Hi Deb. I was wondering if this cake could be made without the eggs. My daughter is about to turn one and we just found out that she has an egg allergy. I wanted to make her a cake for her birthday that she can eat without eggs. Do you think this recipe can be adapted? Thank you
Can’t wait to try this out, I adore the simplicity of the frosting. I’m not particularly fond of cakes with over the top frosting with roses and swirls and what have you. Thank you for sharing recipe! (and all your other ones too)
Hi Deb: Graham Crackers — my favourite for dipping in tea ever since I was old enough to hold a cup — has changed their recipe! I don’t think it affects the packages of crumbs, but the new crackers are sweeter and contain some weird unpronounceable ingredient meant to “counteract carcinogens in commercially baked goods.” Yikes. They taste entirely different, sweeter, and, well, they fall off in your tea right away, and usually all over your clothes and the comfy chair you are sitting in in order to savour dipping the crackers in your tea. I complained on their Facebook page along with many others — why change something that works, an institution!? But the company took our comments down. Very bad form. (I still buy the odd package hoping they may have crumbled, themselves, under the pressure from Original Graham Cracker fans.
To Jessica @104- I just finished listening to a podcast from Christopher Kimball of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and he claims that it is a bad idea to try to triple cake batter, but that if you are brave enough to try, to at least cut down on the amount of leavener ( baking powder and/or baking soda) because tripling it will make the cake be over leavened and it will end up falling and become squat and dense. Nonetheless, good luck on your Seder cake and happy Passover!
I’ve never met a carrot cake that I didn’t like and this one looks delicious. Love the three layers…the size and scale. It’s the perfect celebration cake!! xx
No Chocolate?? How can I make a cake without chocolate? I’ll try to find the chocolate graham crackers that I used for your pumpkin cheesecake. I can’t decide what else to use — chocolate sauce on the side? Chocolate gratings on top?
the cake looks great! what would u recommend to do with the amounts for a non layered cake? do u think itll b still good? and what would b a good substitute instead of graham crackers? i live in israel so we dont have them here :/ maybe lotus cookies?
This sounds amazing! I’ve been jumping from recipe to recipe trying to decide on a cake for my daughter’s first birthday next week (yeah I’m a little behind) and this one just sounds perfect. I love carrot cake, and she adores carrots so I feel good about this. My only worry is decorating the cake. I love cream cheese icing but I have little(no) experience decorating cakes and I was wondering if this will hold up well if I use it for writing/flower designs. Should I layer and cover with cream cheese icing and then use a small batch of buttercream to decorate? Thank you so much for your enthusiasm in these cake posts, it has been so inspiring and fun trying to decide on a birthday cake, even if all your recipes are just making it a harder decision ;)
Also, if I wanted to make this a sheet layer cake (like your airplane cake, the recipe you provided not the giant one) so it is big enough for a modest party, would you recommend simply doubling the recipe?
Just referring back to Priscilla’s comment and your reply on the butter in the frosting. Not sure who was absolutely correct in the end, but I always use 1cup = 8 oz = 225g butter. In the various countries I have lived in, there are no sticks or tablespoon markings on butter. So I quickly learned that 225g was my 1 cup of butter.
Just in time!! Making this tomorrow for my friend’s birthday! Can’t wait!
Thanks for sharing this fabulous recipe. I was dubious as to the amount of sugar in this recipe, with the biscuits too, but it really works. Delicious. I used Bastogne biscuits in the absence of Graham’s as I live in Amsterdam. I also added pecans for some crunch and did a frosting with 250gr of full fat Philadelphia, 50gr butter and 30gr of icing sugar which worked perfectly and not at all runny. Wondering how much will be left to take to work tomorrow….
Wow! Looks beautiful, Deb! I just made carrot cake too, but I love your idea of adding the graham cracker crumbs – so delish! Thanks for sharing :)
That looks sooo amazing! I have to try this cake out :-) I have never tried carrot cake before, itit’s time! Greetings from Ridnaun :-)
Unique twist on the graham layer. Love it. Beautiful presentation. I love Carrot Cake.
I haven’t read other comments, so this may be a repeat. Just wanted to say I had to make this in a 9×13 pan because, well, reasons. It turned out beautifully and I got lots of raves. I cut the frosting recipe in half, and the amount was perfect. Thanks!!!
Oh, I meant to add that when I make any carrot cake, I grate the carrots by hand using a fine grater. That way, the carrots are almost invisible. Believe me, I like shortcuts, but in this case, I think it’s worth it.
My wife makes a killer Carrot Cake, I may make this when she is gone to sample it first. Left overs work well too though, I can explain missing my favorite cake.
Sylvia, I also live in Israel and it is possible to find graham crackers here. In Jerusalem I buy them in CheaperKol, SuperDeal, and the Arztot HaBira supermarkets. They are also available in the Moshava German Colony market. Any store that caters to Americans is likely to carry Amercian bakery graham crackers.
But hurry to buy them if you want to make this cake before Pesach! It is almost Pesach (Passover) when almost all stores will stop selling nonKosherfor Pesach baked goods like Graham crackers
Kara — Depends on what size sheet… are you thinking 9×13, or quarter-sheet? (That’s what I usually use.) If so, if you doubled everything, you could make a 3-layer cake like this, but at the larger size. Re, decorating: I haven’t used cream cheese frosting to make flowers (whoops, yes I have, along with other bloops and bops) but I always always decorate with what I have, in this case, you should definitely have enough extra to decorate with. I think you’ll be just fine. It’s not a pure white, especially with vanilla extract, but nobody will care.
Lisa — I haven’t tried this, but I know a lot of people use a flax/water substitution for eggs in baking. It’s worth seeing if it would work here. You could also bake a test layer, with 1/3 of the ingredients in a single 9-inch pan, to see if it would work. If it does, you’ll just have two more layers to go.
Kris — I’m sorry, I didn’t check. But the layers are THIN. It’s not a lot of batter in each pan… maybe 1.5 to 2 cups, tops per layer.
Jessica, JP — I of course haven’t tried tripling this, but I have tripled other cakes without a lot of trouble. It becomes more of a roulette if you’re tripling, making a large amount of substitutions and, perhaps, changing the cake pan size, so given all of these adjustments, it might not hurt to test it out on a smaller scale (a few muffins or a single cake layer) just to make sure it’s likely to work before possibly risking a lot of lost ingredients.
Made it! Tested it for Easter. Awesome. I couldn’t get the perfect between the layers and sides you got…mine looks a little less perfect But I’m ok with it.
I made this cake tonight and it was a huge hit. No substitutions. I ended up frosting the entire cake since there was so much frosting. The weighted measurements really helped. Another awesome recipe! Thank you!!
Okay, before I read the rest of this recipe, I had to check out the dress, which I assumed would be maternity, since I will also be moving in that direction over the summer. Wow, LOVE the dress! I may have to get it :) Nice find.
Carrot is my Dad’s favorite cake. Will be making this for Father’s Day. Did I miss the size of the cake pan you used? I don’t have three of any one size but will indulge in another to make up a set of three of whichever size you recommend for this recipe. TY, DB
I made this fabulous cake this weekend, and because my daughter can’t have gluten I had to make it GF. Baking is the most challenging part of GF cooking, but this recipe worked very well! Substituted America’s Test Kitchen GF flour recipe for the flour and used Schar Honeygraham crackers. Thankfully butter and cream cheese are totally gluten free (or honestly, would life be worth living?!?). Really fabulous recipe, not too sweet and you were right – even better the next day!
I love carrot cake–it is my request at birthday time. When I read that you would have more frosting than cake, it made me think of another of my mother’s mothers’ “inventions”–graham cracker squares topped with buttercream. They are so yummy and all the children–60 some things on down to babies–adore them.
I’m excited to try this. I made your S’mores cake from the cookbook as a cake and as cupcakes. Big hits both times!
Why does everybody hate my precious raisins and pineapple??? Deb, any chance you have a modification for this recipe involving either one of those ingredients? I’m hesitant to add pineapple due to adding liquid to a baking recipe. I can’t see adding raisins harming much, though.
Made this over the weekend. Was amazing!
Hi! I made this cake this weekend and it was fantastic. It gots lots of praise and was impossibly moist. My only recommendation would be to really cool down- like, stick in the freezer- before fully removing from the springform. The layers are very delicate while warm. For people with only one 9 inch pan, it extends the baking time a lot, but after I jumped the gun on the 1st layer, I learned my lesson.
This cake totally makes up for the one-year-six-months-and-six-days-layer-cake-drought that we suffered through! ;)
Deb, you are a genius! I love your blog and look forward to many more posts.
Is there a way a reader/follower can create an account to ‘SAVE’ some of the recipes as I don’t always remember the tags and sometimes I don’t have the time to scroll through the indexes?
My layers came out much thinner than the layers in your photo. What could I have done wrong?
Yay! I’m so glad I found this recipe! I’ve been looking for a unique carrot cake recipe to make this weekend, and now I’ve got it. Thanks for sharing!
I made this yummy cake this past weekend. My teenagers both commented to me that it’s the best carrot cake they’ve ever eaten. Thank you for another fantastic recipe!
It looks delicious, can’t wait to try it!
Thanks for sharing!
This made the perfect birthday cake, even if I did have to make it for myself ;)
We aren’t super into frosting around here, so I halved the recipe and it was perfect! Thanks :)
DB — I use 9-inch round cake pans here. I also have directions for if you don’t have three (I certainly don’t). That said, I have two and it helps. I consider 9-inch round a layer cake standard size. I certainly don’t have 2 10-inches or 8-inches.
Suze — How thick were they? Mine are only 1/2-inch thick. Did you use the same size pan (9-inch)?
Shirley — I’d love to get it; I agree it would be great.
This looks DIVINE. This will be the perfect addition to my Easter table this weekend. I have a random zucchini I need to use, too… I may make this using half carrots and half zucchini :D Here goes nothin!
cake looks great but i really love the little knife with the light wood handle!
It’s from Quitokeeto, the shop from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks. However! It needs to be hand-washed and dried right after or it will rust. I left mine in the sink overnight after making this cake, and learned the hard way. :(
I’m hoping to make this for Easter dessert on Sunday but would like to bake the cakes the day before. I know you said to make ahead to wrap well and freeze, but is it worth it to freeze it for just 24 hours? Thanks!
Julie — No, not needed for 24 hours. However, I might do it anyway because these layers will be so thin and soft, they’re just much easier to handle/lift/stack if frozen or half-frozen. No need to obsessively wrap it for just 24 hours, though, just a single even loose layer of foil or plastic would be fine.
So good! I whipped up the frosting in a food processor, which took about a minute at high speed. I did soften the butter but kept the cheese cold for structure, and substituted goat cheese for half the cream cheese. Got a fluffy, tangy, creamy cloud of birthday awesomeness. Thanks!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you Deb! This cake is SO tasty! And making it successfully was, for me, a big step forward in my quest to make friends with the oven in our new house, so thank you for that too. xxxx
Layer cake looks perfect. Carrot also is a good choice for this cake. Thanks.
We have people coming over tonight and I’m definitely making this! I made the carrot cupcake recipe as a sheet cake recently and it was awesome, so I was planning to do that one, but then I came here and…this one has graham crackers. Nom nom nom. I’m kind of ridiculously excited.
One tip for people who like the maple-cream cheese frosting but find it too soft — you can reduce maple syrup so it’s thicker and has more structure. Actually, if you cook it to soft-ball stage and then whip it, you can make maple cream (some people call it maple butter) which works really, really well in frosting recipes but is usually more work than I care to do. Anyway, just use medium-low heat and simmer the syrup in a small pan until it starts to thicken and is reduced by 1/3 to 1/2, stirring often, then cool and go ahead with the recipe. If you’re like me and can’t get enough maple flavor (my family makes maple syrup so I grew up on the stuff and am a total maple junkie) you can even throw in some extra syrup for good measure, as long as the total volume of concentrated syrup doesn’t exceed the amount called for in the recipe. Double-strength maple, woohoo!
I also will be bringing this for Easter dinner on Sunday. Can’t wait to share with family and while cakes are cooling on rack, James asks is any of this for us… So… good sign already by the looks and sweet aroma filling kitchen. Deb, have you ever experienced your carrot cake/ cupcakes, baked things using carrots turning green a day or two later? This has happened to me in the past and wondering what caused this. It has been such a long winter, I can appreciate the pink. Came home with a pair of flats from Target; color, blush. Thank you for sharing your writing and cooking gifts with all of us lucky readers. Happy Easter!
So excited to serve this at easter brunch tomorrow! I actually made two layers and then cut them in half for a total of four layers. Because, obviously, that’s the best way to have as much cream cheese filling as possible!
I’m making an exclusively smitten kitchen meal tomorrow :) With your wonderful spinach strata and some side salads.
Just whipping up the frosting, and noticed that you said 125grams – but the other references for quantity were for 1 cup/8oz, which would be 250grams, would it not? Thanks for clarifying!
Is there any reason you can’t bake all three layers at once? I’m doing them one at a time like you said but the conservationist in me is dying. Also, a “search comments” field would be awesome because you get so darn many, I can’t read them all to find out if my question has already been asked. Thanks for the delicious great recipe. Looking forward to Easter dinner/dessert!
PS Indirect Libre, it’s a Smitten Easter here, too!
Made this into two bite cupcakes with a bourbon vanilla orange cream cheese frosting for our Easter celebration. Unreal. Thanks for the recipe!
I baked this cake Thursday night and as advertised, on Saturday it is better than yesterday. I had a lot more frosting/filling than your pictures would indicate. I frosted the sides and still had more than a cup leftover. I’m not complaining because we love fully frosted cakes, but wondered if my using 1/3 less fat cream cheese caused this or if the filling recipe may have been for more than pictured.
Just made this cake at altitude and it is fabulous. I cut the amount of sugar in the frosting in half–still tastes sweet; I actually think 2 cups of sugar would have been overwhelming. Thank you for the great recipe!
hi deb! i dont like the taste of cream cheese that much, is there anything else i can use instead? and what can i use instead of graham crackers? what about lotus crackers? thanks :)
Deb-made the cake yesterday. Came out perfectly –you have again brought such joy to me w/ another delicious and well written recipe. Thank you–happy Easter, Passover, Spring! Enjoy eating for two today remember growing babies ‘need’ the special vitamins only contained in your favorite Easter candy…
I made this yesterday and was going to frost it today. However – 2 cups of icing sugar ended up making a glaze, not a frosting! For something spreadable, I needed about 4x the amount of powdered sugar. Thankfully a friend was home and had some extra I could use. Everything here is closed today for Easter.
I’ve just found some graham flour in our cabin cupboard which needs using up. I made some bread today and I think I’ll have to try your beautiful carrot cake. xx
Thanks for the yummy recipe. I made it today for Easter/ my mom’s birthday. It was great. I did have a few issues with making it in one pan, but it a was a user error not your recipe. It still turned out really great.
So glad I found you!! I have made so many of your recipes but this one takes the cake! (Sorry it was too perfect!) I love to cook but I am not a baker but felt I just had to make a carrot cake as it was Easter after all. It was a real hit the kids who cringed at the thought of a cake of carrots devoured it. Super easy, hardest part was washing the cake pan to make the third layer. Everything was fantastic. Moist cake and perfect cream cheese frosting. Thanks for doing it yet again!
I do not like carrot cake as a rule…BUT I made this for Easter dinner and it was amazing! Nice and moist but not dense, very tasty. I will make this one again.
Made this for Easter dinner and it was terrific! I divided the batter in half instead of thirds because I’m lazy and added some walnuts. I did my best to get allllllll the frosting on it because really I eat carrot cake for the icing not the carrots. Yum!
This was my Saturday evening project and wow…what a success! Thank you! I subbed coconut oil for half of the butter but otherwise followed the recipe to the letter. Delicious! (I had a piece with tea for breakfast this morning. Yum.)
I made this for Easter and it was phenomenal. I used all coconut oil in the cake, and baked it as a 9×13 rather than layers. It took about 30 minutes or so–and I was never that it wasn’t cooked all the way through–but it came out perfectly moist. Fabulous all around.
I made this for Easter and put a few jelly beans on the icing to decorate. It was great! I was a little nervous about the amount of batter in each pan, but it turned out perfectly and it was so nice to not have to bake it forever. I used 9 inch cheesecake pans since that is the only 9 inch pan I have. I love your recipes and check your site daily.
Another chiming in after making it for Easter. A huge hit with everyone, even my sister that prefers chocolate to everything else.
sylvia — A popular alternative to cream cheese frosting is a flour-butter cooked one like this. Yes, other cookies would work, but I don’t think you’ll find the graham taste strong here.
Laura — You mean and divide the layers with a knife? No and yes. These layers are very thin (1/2-inch) and the cake is very soft; personally I would do anything to avoid it because it will be hard to pull off neatly. (vs. a taller firmer cake that’s 2 inches tall and needs to be divided into two layers — this kind of cake I’d do in a heartbeat). Re, a search comments field: I have been dreaming of one for years. Thus far, nobody I’ve worked with has been able to find a way to do this, but I’ve got a new developer helping me with some stuff, I will ask. It’s got to be possible somehow!
ali — Whoops, can’t believe I missed that. 1 cup of butter is 230 grams. Now fixed and thanks.
Reiterating Kora & Brian above – I made this for Easter and it was a HUGE hit. This was, believe it or not, my very first attempt at a layered cake. Thanks to your helpful instructions, I was encouraged to give it a shot. And good thing I did because it made for some very happy family members :)
Here is a picture of the cake I instagrammed!
We made this cake this weekend and it turned out amazing! Thanks for the recipe. Worked fine with olive oil (it was all we had) in case anyone else is considering it.
Hi Deb, I have been reading for years and this is my first comment! I made this cake for Easter and my family absolutely raved about it! I snuck a piece after dinner tonight and honestly it tastes even better than it did 2 days ago.
I love reading your blog and am inspired by your bravery in the kitchen! Can’t you come cook with me in Upstate New York? My students hear about you all the time and would be tickled pink! : ) thanks again…
thank u! about the graham crackers, i don’t mind the taste just they don’t exist in the city that i live in Israel :/
It has been a while since I had carrot cake and I happened to come across your recipe for one with graham crackers! Thank you for sharing, I can’t wait to try this!
I loved the cake the instant I saw it but I have had a love-hate carrot cake baking relationship in the past so I was a bit skittish despite it looking incredibly luscious. Having overcome the skittishness, I made the cake for Easter and I can say that it beats out 2 other versions by well known chefs hands down! (I did make a change on the frosting with an equal mix of cream cheese and mascarpone instead of all cream cheese.) Thanks!
I made this cake for Easter and it’s awesome! I had three people tell me it’s the best carrot cake they’ve ever had and I agree. I was a little concerned with dividing the batter into three pans because the layers were really thin, like 1/2 inch each, and they looked a lot thicker in the photos but once I added the frosting between each layer the height increased a bit. I frosted the entire cake and had about a cup of frosting leftover. Next time I’m using all of the frosting because really, you can never have too much cream cheese frosting! Thanks for the great recipe, Deb!
WOW! This was incredible. You get some credit here for sure, but I kinda knocked my own socks off with this cake! And the frosting!!! My friends said “Well, Maria, you really made a mess of this one!” Thank you for this. It’s a keeper!!:))
I made this for a family gathering. We tasted it beforehand (just to verify quality) and my husband asked me to keep some for us. Everyone loved it. We enjoyed our secret stash of carrot cake. Thank you!
I made this for Easter dinner and it was DIVINE. A huge hit – even among the picky eaters!
Making this frosting tonight (made cake last night).
Question: how do you avoid lumps in cream cheese frosting? Thanks!
Sally — If the cream cheese has been fully softened, it should whip smoothly, with of course regularly scraping down the bowl. I find cream cheese can take some time to warm up, longer than the butter you’ll also use here (it’s bigger and wrapped in foil, is why I assume this happens).
Deb, thanks – I ended up microwaving the cream cheese for 20 seconds for insurance, even though I left it out for 20 hours :)
The cake was AMAZING. My husband, who loves carrot cakes, said that this was the carrot cake to top all carrot cakes, and that anyone who says that they don’t love carrot cake should try it. The graham was subtle but perfect.
(recipe notes for next time – my veggie oil weighed 200 grams, my layers baked perfectly in 15 minutes, and I’d do 8″ layers because I like a little more thickness in cake layers)
I love the idea of adding graham to the cake. Great way to use them. Thanks for this recipe. I’m going to try it!
Wow. My dad and I are avid cake addicts and hold the carrot cake as the pinnacle of this addition. Made this for Easter and my mom and my sister each got one slice and my father and I polished off the rest in 2 days.No regrets. Yum!
Thank you! Thank you! I made this for my bf’s birthday and it was SO delicious. This is replacing my old “go to” carrot cake recipe & he agreed this was the best one he’s had… ever. I even did what you suggested… baking 2 in the 2 pans I have & then finishing the 3rd after cleaning out one of the pans. The batter sat just fine & all layers turned out great. My kids loved it too-i don’t remember hearing the word “favorite” but they devoured it.
Deb. This cake is amazing! I made for my husbands birthday and we polished it off within a few days. I keep thinking about it. Now it is my babes first birthday and I am trying to riff on this cake by using meyer lemons. I had a ton lying around so I made a pint of meyer lemon curd. I have your cookbook with the smore’s cake and am wondering if the cake is similar to this one? Do you think I could mash thin lemon strips in sugar (like you do for marmalade) and let it sit overnight and then incorporate into the cake?
So delicious. Made it for office birthday, and it was gone in 15 minutes. Like another commenter, this is replacing my go-to recipe for carrot cake.
Just made this puppy for my boss’s baby shower, and it was delicious. I’ve made several of your carrot cake recipes, and I honestly cannot tell which one is the best. My cakes came out a little thinner than expected, even though I used brand new baking powder and baking soda. But I also used coconut oil, which may have weighed the cake down, so it turned out fairly dense. Still, did not regret that decision, because it was a fantastic addition.
I have to try this! Looks amazing and would be perfect for some of our parties. Thanks for sharing.
Love this recipe and love your perfectly constructed layers!
An amazing recipe – my daughter loves carrot cakes. Do you think, though, it can be done without an electric mixer? We move every other year and try to keep our appliances list light.
looks so good!! beautifully made cake.
I just made this for an office baby shower and it was a HUGE hit. A few changes because I live in Ireland: I ground up M&S oat biscuits in place of graham crackers and I had to up the flour as I was using “plain” white flour, which I find to be less substantial than all-purpose. I did find that the recipe made a smaller amount of batter than I expected, so my layers came out pretty thin. But it was ultimately a great cake-to-frosting ratio. I think that the batter could even have been bulked up a bit more with additional flour or ground biscuits to create slightly thicker layers. I frosted the sides because there was no way I would be able to replicate this level of precision in my icing, but I did toast some walnuts and grind them up to sprinkle across the whole top of the cake. It looked lovely and added an extra, subtle nutty flavour. To split the cooking time across two days, I baked the layers (one at a time–I’ve just one pan!) one day and kept them wrapped in the fridge overnight, then made the frosting and built the cake the next day, wrapped it again, and served it on day three. It stayed amazingly, deliciously moist! My colleagues devoured it and I’ve gotten a ton of emails asking for the recipe. A great springtime office treat! Thanks, Deb!
Mitya — The cake layers, absolutely. The frosting is definitely easier with an electric mixer to whip that butter and cream cheese together. It can be done by hand, but it’s more of a beast to get it fluffy. For space-saving, I definitely vote for a hand-mixer investment; they’re usually inexpensive and small, and do 90% of what a stand mixer will.
I made this cake yesterday. It is FANTASTIC! Surely as close to Plato’s ideal form of carrot cake as you can get. A few notes: I used some very healthy, almost tasteless graham crackers from a brand called Mi-Del (it was all my co-op had) and I didn’t notice any lack in quality when I tasted the cake. So I think you could probably add any neutral but dense/crispy biscuit or cracker and still get good results. I divided the batter in two, baking two thicker layers in about 25 minutes, refrigerated them overnight, and cut them in half with my sharpest knife the next day, resulting in an elegant cake with layers that looked quite delicate. (The layers are best cut cold so your knife doesn’t bite into the soft cake when it is fresh and might tear.) This is an amazing recipe–close to perfect. Everyone who had a piece raved about it!!
I made one crucial mistake when making this one: I used a muffin pan and filled the batter to the brim, and as a result got overflowing & flat tops. Still the (cup)cakes were delicious- the BF, his family and myself all LOVED them! The cake is moist with subtle notes of graham cracker and ginger, and the frosting is not too sweet and barely tart. The time spent grating carrots using a microplane was really worth it :)
I will definitely make these again, but will do a better job filling the muffin molds by only 2/3 each! Thank you for another stellar, stellar recipe.
I have food allergies and made this without tasting it for a birthday gathering for my husband who requested carrot cake. Well, it was a hit. I appreciated the suggestion of making it the day before for better taste. I used half the sugar for the cream cheese frosting because I think a more tangy than sweet cream cheese is a better match for the cake. In doing so, I came up a slightly short on frosting and will start off with more cream cheese next time. And I’m sure there will be a next time!
Thank you so much for the recipe and I trust your opinion on carrot plus graham crackers…BUT, if I wanted to make just carrot cake and still use this recipe, how much flour is needed in place of the graham cracker? Thanks!
Meaghan — You can replace the graham crumbs 1:1 with flour.
Great cake! I made it for Mother’s Day and my Mom (and everyone else) loved it!! It was super easy to make and so delicious. And the triple layer presentation made everyone think I had worked very hard on this cake. Thank you for the recipe!
I made this over the weekend/earlier this week for the office and everyone LOVED it. It was the first cake they actually completely finished so that there was nothing left over, haha! I did have to increase the recipe by half to get three good layers, though — I’m not sure why, but without doing so, the three layers were too thin and difficult to handle. After I increased it, though, it was perfect!
And in case this will help anyone, I used half vegetable oil and half grapeseed oil for my neutral oil (just because I ran out of grapeseed oil). I also used half graham crackers and half ginger thin cookies. It all worked wonderfully!
I just made this for my husbands birthday and he LOVED it. If I make it again I might add walnuts to the cake. We have a 10 week old baby so I was looking for a recipe that wasn’t too fussy or complicated. This recipe was perfect except that the food processor scared the crap out of my baby when I grated the carrots.
I’ve made this twice already, using GF graham crackers and GF flour and it’s been delicious! I love it that there are so many carrots. And Deb is correct… it won’t last longer than 3 days!
Hello Deb, I am a long time smitten kitchen follower and I adore your writing and recipe collection. I made this recipe tonight and ended up with three uber moist layers of cake, too soft to even move from the wire rack once cooled. One layer is in about 5 delicious chunks. I measured all my ingredients with the scale when indicated and double checked as I always do. I used a fine grate on the carrots. I choose to use butter. Maybe the amount of butter should be reduced? I am not a novice in the kitchen…this is the first recipe of yours that has not come together perfectly. Can you help?
This is so good! I made it for the second time yesterday, and instead of using the same round pan three times, I threw all the batter into a half-sheet cookie pan, then cut it into thirds when it came out. Not as gorgeous as the cake pictured here, but it still tasted damn good …
Hi Candace — Yes, this is a very very soft and tender cake. I suggested in the recipe “to make this very soft cake easier to handle, you can place cake layers in your freezer until cool and slightly firm.” I absolutely did that here (and frankly, for all layer cakes, always, because my favorite kinds are very tender, thus tricky when freshly baked). So, if they’re sticking to the cooling rack, just put it in the freezer for a few minutes. It should come off more easily once it has firmed up solid. Hope that helps for next time.
So good and the easiest carrot cake I’ve ever made! I started & finished in less than 2 hours, chilling the cakes in the freezer. I’m in love with graham crackers (my golden retriever’s name is Graham!), so I need to get the SK cookbook to make that s’mores cake.
I made this with some help from my 6 and 4 yos for my husband’s birthday. It was insanely good! And the kids and the hubby were all amazed that I’d made a layer cake! So thanks for helping me be a superhero for a day. :)
I have been experimenting with the recipe lately because I am using it to make a wedding cake! I doubled the amount of batter you specified for a 9 inch and made a 10 inch. It was thicker and near perfectly flat! My only issue now is that after the cake has cooled and been refrigerated, the top is still pretty sticky and the center of the cake fell slightly, I feel it might’ve been underdone. Do you suggest lowering the temp and baking a skosh longer? Maybe use baking strips?
Kris — Yes, that’s a good place to start, before you get into baking strips.
Hi there. If I halve the recipe, will I end up with 2 (slightly thicker) 6″ layers? Can’t quite justify making the whole thing for just me and the hubby. Thanks!
Abby — If you halve the recipe you can make 4 thin (as pictured) 6-inch layers or 2 thicker ones.
I absolutely love this recipe and will be making it again for my mother in law’s birthday tomorrow! Quick question: it’s a holiday over here in Germany, so all the stores are closed and I don’t have any brown sugar or molasses! Is there any way to substitute it? I have loads of spices and granulated sugar!
This turned out just great. Made it with 3 thin layers (and only two pans–did as you recommended and turned cooled first two rounds out, then re-used 1 pan to bake the 3rd layer). It was really a textbook recipe. I frosted and let it set in fridge to firm up and it’s perfect. My daughter loves it. It almost seems like a “healthy” dessert compared to last night’s Halloween haul! :-) Thanks for the great recipe.
I made this for my honeybun’s birthday last weekend. A delicious and indulgent birthday cake, it received raves. Briefly freezing the layers was an excellent tip, because the layers are soft and super fragile. Thank you for a lovely finish to his birthday dinner!
I made this for my friend’s birthday yesterday and it was a big hit. I baked the cakes Thursday night and then made the frosting and assembled it on Friday before her birthday dinner. I only have 2 pans, so I made the third layer like you said and it worked really well. But I ended up frosting the cake on the sides because I couldn’t get it to look neat without it, like your does. Any tips on how to frost evenly between the layers and keep it looking neat without frosting on the side?
I made this cake over the holidays and everyone LOVED it! A family friend said it was the best carrot cake he’d ever eaten. I’m planning on making it again for my daughter’s birthday party, and I was hoping to double the recipe and use the second half for cupcakes in addition to the cake. Does anyone have an idea of how many cupcakes the recipe would yield?
Hi Emily — I haven’t made these as cupcakes so I don’t have a count, but I want to estimate perhaps in the 12 to 24, tops range, i.e. less than the usual 3-layer cake would yield because it’s fairly thin. Hope that helps get you started.
I never like cream cheese frosting. There has to be a breakthrough recipe that gives a bit of that bright flavor without leaving it cloyingly sweet. I tried the cooked frosting, with 1/2 the recommended sugar, and blendered in a tbs or two of cream cheese. Sort of good.
do you think using olive oil would alter the flavor too much? it’s the only oil I have and I don’t use vegetable oil enough to warrant purchasing it for one recipe! Would I be better off with butter?
katie — It might impart a bit of an olive oil flavor, but I don’t think it would be a bad thing. Plus, there are so many other spices and flavors here…
If anyone else had this question, I just wanted to let you know that I used extra virgin olive oil and it did not affect the taste at all.
I must be the only one in the world that feels “meh” about graham crackers! If I want to leave them out, can I just substitute with an equal amount of flour?
nvm — just saw the answer above!
I made this for my baby’s 1st birthday cake and it turned out wonderfully. I doubled the cake recipe and increased the frosting by 1.5. It was the perfect amount to make and ice a four layer cake for the adults, and then to make a little double layer “smash cake” for the baby. It was really delicious — even people who didn’t like carrot cake were raving about it and had seconds. Definitely recommend!!
This will be my first attempt at a layer cake, and at carrot cake! I hate to buy ingredients I have little use for. Can I sub fresh grated ginger for the dry ground?
I made this last night and my layers came out very thin. Cake is half as big as it should be. Was I supposed to triple the batter recipe?
Amy — The layers are absolutely supposed to be very thin. It’s intentional. You can, however, scale it up if you’re like them thicker.
This is the best carrot cake I’ve ever had!!!! I made it in 8″ pans and baked just a bit longer because I wanted slightly thicker layers. We loved it!
Thank you for posting this on fb! I made this for Easter. Mine was not nearly as pretty as yours, but it was delicious! What a great recipe!
Made this for Easter yesterday and it was the total star of the day. All agreed it was the best carrot cake they’d ever had! I would also like to add that I had a ton of icing left over (more than a cup), so I paired it with the leftover graham crackers for a sensational Dunkeroos comeback. :)
I plan to make this for my son’s first birthday this week. But I’m making it *mini*, with tiny springform pans. Wish me luck.
I made this for Easter using honey grahams and white whole wheat flour. Other than that – followed recipe exactly and it was delicious! I can’t see making this without the freezer so make the space before hand. Also, I own two 9″ pans and two cooling racks. So, after putting layer one on the cooling rack I washed the pan to bake layer three and put layer one in the freezer. When layer three was done I was able to put layer one on the cake plate and use the rack for layer three. I kept the cake plate in the fridge and layers two and three in the freezer while I prepared the filling. Working with cold cake layers made assembly much easier! Thanks Deb!
Did you mean 8 inch tins? Just made this to the letter and ended up with 3 pancake style cakes (I joke, but only a little). A disaster really. I knew when I filled the tins the batter was too shallow but went against my better judgement and cooked them anyway. Sad.
Sue — I did not. It’s intended to be a very thin cake, I have a thing for thin layer cakes. I note up top that each layer is a mere 1/2-inch thick — is that about what you got?
oh. em. gee.
this cake was absolutely sensational. super moist and amazing taste from the spices (ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg).
Hi hi! This looks great! Do you think the ‘replacing half the flour with ground up graham crackers’ trick would work w a plain yellow cake recipe? I’m sure it depends on the recipe, but thought I’d ask since you did some experimenting to get the graham taste! Thanks!
This cake is fantastic! I made it a few weeks ago, and froze the layers (3), then frosted with the maple cream cheese frosting from this site and served it today. It’s definitely easier to handle partially frozen. It’s also flippin’ delicious and really easy to make.
This is fabulous. Made it in 2 layers and increased the time in the oven slightly. Also cut the icing in half – there was plenty! Has a lovely gingery taste.
I know the description of this said each layer would be a half-inch think, but I was shocked to see how thin each layer actually was (mine actually ended up about 1/2 inch thick, unlike the photos). The cake layers are tasty, but I’m not even going to bother to frost it, as the layers seem too thin to support the frosting.
I made this for my son’s birthday dinner yesterday and it was delicious. I used Biscoff cookies instead of graham crackers. The Biscoff flavor was very subtle, next time I make it I might add some Biscoff butter to the batter, or maybe to the frosting, so that the flavor comes through more. It can also use a bit of crunch, so some type of chopped nut might be a good addition.
I doubled the recipe and made four layers instead of three. I’m glad I did this because the layers were very thin as it is, I can’t imagine how thin they’d be if I didn’t double. For three layers, I’d do one and a half times the recipe. I also doubled the frosting recipe and thinly iced the outside (like a “naked” cake). I baked the layers for about 22 minutes.
Overall, this is an excellent recipe. The taste is spectacular and it’s super quick and easy to make. You can put this together in no time and everyone will think you spent the day baking. I’d love to add photos of the finished cake, but don’t see that option.
This is gorgeous and will be my first attempt at a cake……and especially my first fancy cake. Is it possible to make the filling without an electric mixer?
Ah! I scrolled through more comments and you’ve already answered the question, thank you!
Saw an America’s Test Kitchen layered carrot cake recipe that was initially baked in a 13×18 sheet pan, then once cooled split into 4 even layers. Do you think your cake batter above could apply to the sheet pan?
I wanted to make this recipe into cupcakes. I made the cake last Easter so I knew it was delicious and easy to make. I read all the comments and while many asked if it could be done I only read on comment that said they’d made two-bite cupcakes. So I decided to try. Knowing this is a sticky cake, I opted for foil liners that I coated with spray. I filled 2/3 full and at the half way point thought they looked like a great height. But they kept growing and were too big. So my second pan I filled a touch more than half. They’re almost right ( a little too short). I had to bake the first pan 26 mins and the second 24 mins. I got 24 but if you fill all wells to the proper level you may get a few more. Deb notes in a reply (to another unrelated Heather) that as cupcakes they would “not have much of a dome” and I say they have NO dome. Bottom line: they’ll be delicious but not pretty. If you have a choice – make the layer cake. It’s the same amount of work in the end and the cake is much prettier!
I made this cake for my son’s first birthday — I think it’s the first cake I ever baked! I doubled the recipe and ended up with a two layer 9 inch cake, and a two layer 4 inch cake (for son’s smash cake). It was hard to tell how much batter to put in the pan for each layer, so my layers were much thicker than Deb’s. I also used store bought icing to make it easier for me. It came out great, although I wish the layers were a little thinner. Got lots of compliments, and my son went to town on it. Thank you Deb!
This cake is amazing! I made it this weekend and it was a huge hit. I love carrot cake but have never made it, and I’m not a fan of making and frosting layer cakes, so I was pretty nervous about making this recipe. But I followed the directions to a T and everything worked out fine. The layers are beautiful.
I did have some trouble with the delicate cake sticking to my cooling rack and needing some VERY fine maneuvering to remove them (even with freezing them, which actually made it worse), so I might put parchment paper on top of the rack next time.
The frosting was too liquid for me to put on the cake at first (which might be my fault for making it in the food processor), so I had to refrigerate it for a while to let it firm up, but then it was fine. I ended up frosting the sides but still had a little frosting left. The cake is moist, flavorful, and on the edge of being very sweet but not crossing over. Definitely a keeper!
P.S. – Thank you so much for providing the weight measurements!
I’ve made this cake every year for Easter since you’ve posted the recipe. Every time it’s been a delicious success. Thanks for showing me how easy it can be to make a cake from scratch! :-)
This made a beautiful, classic carrot cake with a lovely, soft texture– perfect for my Easter lunch this year! However, like most carrot cakes it’s just a bit too oily for my taste– I think if I were to make it again I would reduce the oil to 3/4 cup or use melted butter instead for a less cloyingly moist texture. Also, while my daughter thought it was perfect, for me there was too much frosting for the thin cake layers– it overpowered the cake itself. Next time I would reduce the frosting to 2/3 of the recipe– it could probably go as low as 1/2, but then there wouldn’t be enough to make the pretty layered effect with the cake!
This was a huge hit at an easter party! I made it exactly as specified with butter. This is now my favorite carrot cake recipe. The graham cracker was a wonderful addition!
This cake came out great! I did have one layer collapse from me doing too many things at once! lol … The cake was incredibly moist and the icing was delicious. My advice… Let your layers cool as directed above!!
I made this to rave reviews for a coworker’s birthday. The recipe came out perfectly, except for two minor things. I used the exact measurements on the recipe, and I only had enough batter for two thin 9-inch layers (not three) and only enough frosting for nice, but not very thick coatings between the cake layers and on the top. Is there something that is going wrong where I’m unable to replicate what looks to be your number of layers and amount of frosting? Thanks!
The layers are very thin. Just puddles of batter. I’m sorry I cannot find a process picture of them but no matter how thin it seems, just stretch the batter across and bake it and it will look the way mine does above. Regardless, I’m glad the cake was a hit.
Deb – I know this is an old one but! I have been making this for 3 years now and *every* time my layers look thin as I’m spreading them out…and *every* time…they are never quite as thick as your pictures show. Do you think there’s a mixing process I’m doing that is making them not rise at all? I mean…we’re talking 1/4 inch at best…Thanks in advance!
If using melted butter instead of the oil, would it be the same amount including the 3 tbsp’s?
I made this and it’s delicious. I think it’s the best carrot cake I ever made. And traditionalists, if the word graham scares you, it doesn’t taste like a graham cracker carrot cake, but a carrot cake with a subtly more complex flavor. It’s wonderful. Thanks Deb!
This is such a winner! The cake layers are so delicate and light, but full of bright carrot and cozy graham flavor. I wish I had one of those big cake lifters for moving the layers around since they’re so thin and moist. But I made it work – the detailed cooling/transfer instructions are really helpful. Thank you Deb for another fantastic recipe!
I made this for my boyfriend’s birthday this weekend, as he loves carrot cake, and not only was it simply delicious…it was also so beautiful! I’m frankly not a great baker, and have no layer cake experience, so I wasn’t sure it would pan out, but OMG. SO GOOD.
I ended up doing 2 layers instead of 3 because I had 2 cake pans. And I added toasted walnuts because neither of us are super dessert people and I always feel like the bitter of the walnuts helps round out the sweet of the cake. I also added a touch of sour cream to the cream cheese frosting just because I tend to like that sour note.
It was amazing. Seriously, I will absolutely be making this again. I wish I could load a picture, because it even looked beautiful!
I made this for a friends birthday last night and it was delicious! I halved the batter into two cake pans, let them cool slightly and then freeze, and sliced each in half for four layers. That used up almost all of the frosting without doing the sides.
I made this over the weekend for my father-in-law’s birthday….he requested a carrot cake. And he hasn’t been my father-in-law for that long, so there was pressure to make a pretty perfect cake! This recipe delivered for sure. I made 2 layers and used butter instead of the oil. So yummy. Thanks Deb!
Hi Deb, I totally understand if you are not checking comments this week, but just in case you are, I thought I’d ask. I’d like to make this cake for Easter but we are having friends over that are dairy-free (except for butter). Would it work to replace the cream cheese with goat cheese, or would that be too tangy? Or maybe just use a buttercream frosting, or would that be too sweet?
Hi Deb, I totally understand if you are not checking comments this week, but just in case you are, I thought I’d ask. I’d like to make this cake for Easter but we are having friends over that are dairy-free (except for butter). Would it work to replace the cream cheese with goat cheese, or would that be too tangy? Or maybe just use a buttercream frosting, or would that be too sweet? Additionally, the link you posted to a comment above for a New York Times recipe wants me to login, and apparently my free trial has ended. Any other source?
I made this today and did substitute goat cheese for cream cheese and it worked really well! I also used a 9” pan and made it with two layers and got a ton of compliments on how moist it was.
Can you clarify the measurements on the carrots?
It’s correct. I think that part in the parentheses is a holdover from my own cooking notes! Now removed. Sorry for the confusion.
Do any of you fellow commenters know of a good way to adapt recipes, especially cakes, not quiches (haahaa), to exclude eggs? I can make a fantastic cornbread, and great muffins with golden flax meal and warm water as an egg-substitute for one egg, and perhaps even two if I add a bit of oil, but have any of you tried making this cake or some similar with a satisfactory substitution for eggs? Three eggs is a lot to omit and replace.
I only have whole wheat flour- have you tried that?
I actually found the layers to be the perfect size, but I also used the scale and weights, and made sure I had the same amount of filling in each pan. The cake was lovely and moist. I grated the carrots by hand to get a finer texture than the food processor – a bit of a workout, but well worth it. One person that ate the cake said “this is an exceptional carrot cake.” Another offered to pay me to make another for his friends. This was my first-ever carrot cake, and I am definitely making it again.
I made this and accidentally added 3 extra tablespoons of butter to the cake batter (I hasty read the butter ingredient item!) It made it even more indulgent but still delish! I used an 8 inch cake pan instead of nine and devided the batter evenly so my layers were slightly thicker than Deb’s. I also found this gave me enough extra icing to throughouly ice the entire cake, sides and all. So delicious and moist!! Can’t wait to make again.
Seriously – SO GOOD. I tried three and it was a disaster because I’m just not good with juggle such things & really didn’t measure it equally. Redid it & no regrets. Two layers is pretty too :) I did add about a cup of pecans into the batter & on top.
Goodness gracious this was a FABULOUS cake. Three perfectly uniform moist flavorful layers…and the cream cheese frosting was amazing! It was almost devoured day one. I think the size was perfect for our family, not too small and not too big. It was just enough to have another slice on day two. Thanks Deb, you did it again<3
I made this for Easter, and it’s the best carrot cake I have ever had! I tried to get away with not using parchment (I was out) and that was a bad call. You really need to line the pans with parchment, flour and butter did not cut it. That said, my horribly messy cake layers looked cute and tasted fantastic once I frosted them all over and decorated with graham cracker crumbs. I followed the recipe exactly, with three thin layers, and it made a substantial cake that would easily serve 10 people. I made it a day in advance and served it cold from the fridge and it was dreamy. Still divine on day 2. Unlikely to make it to day 3.
This. cake. is. so. good. Holy moly. Like other reviewers, I didn’t have the patience to do 3 separate layers in the same pans, and I wanted thicker layers, so I did 2 9in layers and cooked them for slightly longer. The only other thing I changed was to add golden raisins to the batter with the shredded carrots. I made ALL the frosting and used every last bit of it on the middle and outside of the cake, and trust me – no one complained! This will be my new go-to recipe for sure. Thanks as usual, Deb!
Thank you for being brave and adding raisins, Maura! I’m a texture-lover. How much did you add?
Such a delicious carrot cake! My husband doesn’t even like carrot cake and he enjoyed this. I used 6″ pans and baked for 16 minutes for a small 6 layer cake. Now I need to remember who I leant those 9″ cake pans out to – but I may do again as a 6″ as it was so pretty. The graham cracker taste wasn’t too strong at all and just gave it extra punch of flavor. Thanks again Deb for a fantastic recipe!
Thank you! I found this cake last week and made it for Easter. It is fantastic!!! There was almost a rumble for the last piece. ;)
I made this for Easter and I made it gluten-free! Bought gf grahams and pulverized in food processor. Everything else I followed as written. I was afraid of the thin layers and others comments about too thin batter in a pan but I am here to say – 3 – 9″ pans is correct! You will need 4 racks – 1 for taking the layer out of the pan and flipping it onto the cooling rack. Since we are trying to reduce our sugar intake (well, somewhat) I made half the amount of frosting and it was still amazing!!
PS I used gf flour blend for the flour in the recipe.
Baked the 3 layers last night, assembled it before dinner tonight for my best friend’s birthday. Best cake ever, apparently.
Recipe note: as I’m not a fan of butter in frosting, I used a combination of cream cheese, mascarpone and whipping cream.
Made this on Easter and making again in cupcakes to send to my college daughter for her birthday. So good!
This was delicious. I cut the white sugar to 100 grams and brown sugar to 100 grams, we prefer less sweet desserts and that was still quite sweet. I made half the amount of frosting and it was more than enough, I also used half the amount of Sugar proportionally, we could taste the tang of the cream cheese that way. I didn’t have dry ground ginger so grated a small amount of fresh ginger with the microplane.
Hi Deb! I made this cake last weekend for a dinner party and everyone loved it, thanks! For my next dessert, my fiance requested a zucchini chocolate cake. I haven’t been able to find a good recipe, so I was wondering if you think I might be able to modify this one? I was thinking I could replace the graham crumbs with oreo, and the spices (plus some of the flour?) with coco powder? (And the carrot with zucchini, obviously). What do you think? Thanks!
What a great idea. So, I think I might go in a different direction… I might take The ‘I Want Chocolate Cake’ Cake and replace the buttermilk with an equal volume of packed grated zucchini. I might pour a tablespoon or two of buttermilk over it. It will probably take longer to bake. You could turn it into a 2-layer cake by doubling it, or a 3-layer cake by either tripling it (for a tall cake) or taking the doubled amount and dividing it between three pans. When you double it, you can use 1 large egg for every 2 yolks for the zucchini version. Okay, that’s a lot of instruction but I feel fairly confident that it will work, and you’ll have a great chocolate-zucchini cake.
Thanks so much, I’ll give it a go!
Hello from Portugal where, since I moved here from Seattle a few months ago, I have made this cake 4 times (!) — for a birthday party, for a new friend who had a miscarriage, for a lunch with my boyfriend’s parents and for my one and only American friend here who requested carrot cake as something “American”. I’m not one to leave comments here, but I realized as I made this cake for the 4th time that it will forever be part of these new memories I am making during this crazy transition to a new life, in a new country and culture. Amidst sardines and codfish, this “American” cake as been a hit with all recipients and a comfort to me in the process of making it. SO, I wanted to let you know the place your carrot cake has found in Portugal and THANK YOU for what you do, Deb! Your work and site suddenly feel like a gift to this American girl living in a new place :)
Hi Deb! I have made this cake on numerous occasions and it’s definitely one of my favourites–it always turns out perfectly and my husband just loves it!
I was wondering if you think it would work as a bundt cake?
It probably will but I’m nervous that it’s a pretty tender, slightly sticky cake, i.e. it may be even more prone to sticking in a bundt than other cakes.
I LOVE this cake. Do you think I could bake it into a loaf pan? THANKS@
Hey Deb, I’m baking a b’day cake for a friend of mine – we used to live together when we were at university in Wellington NZ and drool over your recipes regularly, probably almost ten years ago!
My question is connected to not having enough pans to do three layers. If I don’t have enough tins (as you’ve suggested you don’t), doesn’t the raising agent fail as the batter is waiting for its turn to go into the oven? My mum put the fear of God into me from a young age that I should get the cake batter in the oven as soon as the wet and dry ingredients were mixed together…
This cake is EXCELLENT! I read so many carrot cake recipes and glad I settled here. Mine was only 2 layers, and I skipped the graham crackers (didn’t have any) and used all APF (to equal weight). I also added some extra ginger and cardamom, and meyer lemon zest and juice in the frosting. Oh! and I did the candied carrot coin thing from Bon Appetit and it was super quick and easy, and fun for decoration.
I’d never made a layer cake before in my life, but the people I served it to said it was the best carrot cake they’d ever had (and I don’t think they were just being nice)!
I was coming back to this recipe today, and I realized I never commented, even though I DEFINITELY owe you a comment because: I made this cake for my wedding two years ago! I tripled the recipe and halved the sugar in the frosting. I made 6, 9, and 12-inch sections (three layers each), and it looked absolutely lovely. We had about 80 guests and didn’t end up cutting into the smallest section at all, and I got a ton of compliments, including from family members who don’t usually like cake and would not have said anything if they hadn’t liked it :)
Hi Deb, someone else asked this question but I didn’t see any replies. Do you think there is anyway to do this as a thin stacked sheet cake (perhaps if you double the recipe)? My friend would like me to make this as a “kitchen cake” for her wedding, but I’m not comfortable trying to make multiple stacked round cakes. Any thoughts would be appreciated!
I made this for my son’s first birthday and it was a big hit! I made a normal size cake as written, which was delicious. I also made a smash cake by taking 1/3 of the recipe, replacing 1/2 the sugar with maple syrup and leaving out the other half, and “frosting” it with just whipped cream cheese. This was also delicious and I would eat this as a breakfast any day.
I made this early this morning. Looked gorgeous (almost exactly like the photo–for once!). It was good, no question. But everyone in my extended family agrees with me that it’s nowhere near as good as the carrot cake with maple frosting (smittenkitchen.com/2008/12/carrot-cake-with-maple-cream-cheese-frosting/) that I’ve made many times before.
How much does these rise? I have two 6″ round pans and am wondering how high I can fill them… two-thirds full maybe?
We are on a diet but still wanting cake so a smash cake-sized layer cake it is :)
It doesn’t rise a ton and the layers, as written, are very thin.
It worked out great halved in two 6″ rounds with room to spare, thank you! This recipe is a keeper. A layer cake easy enough to make on a work night?! It’s a miracle :)
Hey Deb, can I use the same frosting method you learned from the Martha Stewart test kitchen-adding a TB of powdered sugar at a time until it’s thick enough-for this frosting too? Not sure if this being a cream cheese base would make a difference. Can’t wait to make it! Thank you!
Tried it out. For anyone else wondering, yes, this method works. But I found the amount of powdered sugar written in the recipe to be perfect- did not need any less or any more!
You have a good memory! Yes, you can. I don’t find it always changes a whole lot and I try to keep the sugar as low as I could keep “structured” here, but it’s definitely worth finding out.
Really tasty although too sweet for me. I will try reducing the sugars by a third. Reading all the helpful comments, I doubled the recipe using 3 sticks of butter and 1/2 c applesauce and baked in three pans for 25 mins. Lovely texture and makes a gorgeous three layer cake. I love all the carrot in this!
We make the world’s best (modest? nah!) ginger snaps. I might try this recipe and replace the grahams with our snaps. I’ll have to bake the gingers longer than usual to dry them enough to work.
Could you do a 13×9 pan?
I haven’t tested it but think it could work.
In light of sheltering in place, what would you recommend as a substitute for graham crackers?
You can replace the graham crumbs 1:1 (volume) with flour.
Hi There, I don’t have store bought graham crackers on hand. I was wondering if I made your homemade graham crackers (so delicious) would they work in this recipe? My version of them usually come out softer than store bought. Thank You!
Oh hey, another question. On my last grocery run 3 weeks ago, there was no flour to be had. I did find Tipo ’00’ which is great for pasta. I googled around and found adding cornstarch (?) should up the protein content of the 00 flour. Do you have any thoughts or better suggestions for substitutions? Appreciate any advice!
Kitchn.com has this to say about that, read the last paragraph beginning “All this said…” https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-deal-with-00-flour-108281
That doesn’t make sense to me on because 1. Cornstarch doesn’t have any wheat protein in it and barely any protein, period. If you wanted to increase the protein, you could use a gluten additive. 2. 00 flour is a soft flour (fine grind) but is relatively high in protein, a bit higher than many all-purpose flours. I haven’t baked with 00 before so I cannot tell you with authority how it will work, but I bet it will be fine here.
This gave me an idea for a PRETZEL FLOUR cake, aka basically your pretzel linzer cookies (by the way… those are now staples on my Christmas Cookie tray… SO good…) meets your original graham cake. Do you think subbing ground pretzels in the s’mores cake would work? (I do own that cookbook.) Would you go with salted and pull back the salt in the recipe or unsalted?
I think so but I’m not positive the flavor will show up at much, might just be a distant crunch. Without salt, to me, it’s not very pretzel-y. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the linzers.
Thank you very much!
Just wanted to provide a follow-up to say I did end up trying this (subbing ground pretzels in for the grahams in the s’more cake from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook) for my birthday cake and, per the scraps I tried after leveling, it worked spectacularly! I used salted pretzels and kept the amount of salt as written and left out the cinnamon. I felt you truly get a pretzel flavor in the cake, especially in the crust, where the crunchy bits seems to have settled. The only thing I would change if I did it again was to add perhaps a SMALL amount of sugar. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of sugar in the pretzels compared to the grahams or the increased salt from the pretzels themselves, but I felt it was a tad on the savory side. (Which is not unwelcome when you’re slathering it in frosting, but I would probably like just a slight bit more sweetness in the cake itself to make it feel more like a cake and less like a quick bread.) Plan is to fill with your salted caramel filling from the wedding cake post and to frost with my own chocolate buttercream recipe. Cannot WAIT to try the final product :-)
Have you ever made cupcakes with this batter?
Hi Deb, can I make these as cupcakes instead? Thank you!
I haven’t tested it but it should work fine.
I just finished baking and can’t wait to try it!
I think there is an error on the weight measurements – a 3/4 cup brown sugar should be 165 g.
No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get this cake to rise. I’ve made it twice, and each time it bakes but doesn’t rise at all. Stays perfectly moist and tastes amazing, but each layer is about half as high as yours look in the photos. Any clue what I might be doing wrong??
Want to try a making Graham Carrot Cake for my wife’s birthday. What do you think about substituting ground almond biscottis (from our local Sicilian bakery)?
My wife is a big carrot cake lover.
I made this for my husbands birthday, as carrot cake is his favorite, however my son is allergic to pecans and walnuts. This recipe is exactly what I needed and it turned out amazing. My husband said it was just as good and maybe even better than the one at Magnolia Cafe in Austin. Awesome recipe! Thank you.
Loved the ginger in this recipe: it gives a spicy touch to it. My 4 year-old daughter devoured this cake so that kind of says it all. Will definitely make this again as it was so easy to make.
This is amazingly good carrot cake but no way could I get three layers out of this recipe. Two thin layers were just fine but were all it produced and I thought you might like to know.
This is the BEST carrot cake recipe I’ve ever used. I made this for my Dad’s 61st birthday and my parents both said it was the best carrot cake they’d ever had. I made it exactly as written, except I baked it in 2 layers instead of 3 (roughly 25 minute baking time) and I had leftover cream cheese frosting from a different recipe.
I will make it again today, but cupcakes, and will try with the maple cream cheese icing from the other carrot cake recipe. So happy to have this recipe! Thanks Deb!
A note on the carrots: we recently bought a Ninja blender with a “food processor” bowl. It’s essentially still a blender. There are no attachments. It chopped the carrots rather than grated them, but the consistency was still perfect in the cake. I don’t think it matters too much what tool you use, as long as they are in small pieces.
Made this for thanksgiving dinner and it was simply amazing! Like all your desserts- a real slam dunk every time.
Excited to try this! I would love to make a smaller version of this: a 2 layer 8-inch cake. How hard would it be to adapt the ingredients portions? I imagine the baking powder and soda is the hardest part to reduce.
These are very thin cake layers. You could probably make this entirely in 2 8-inch rounds for a slightly taller cake, no adjustments except extra baking time needed.
Yesterday (2/03), my daughter’s principal informed us that it was National Carrot Cake Day. That, and a reason for the family to celebrate, was the only excuse I needed to bake this cake. It turned out fantastic – plush, moist, and extremely flavorful. I grated the carrots finely because my food processor cuts them too coarsely for the delicate cake I wanted. I also cut the frosting recipe in half because I only had one package of cream cheese on hand, and it was just the right amount for us. Thank you, Deb! I’ll definitely make it again.
Reporting that this works terrifically with gingersnaps in place of graham crackers. The grocery store left graham crackers out of my pickup order, and I didn’t notice until it was too late. Had some gingersnaps on hand and figured they were close enough. Reduced the ground ginger by 1/4 tsp in an attempt to keep the flavor balanced. I did also add a tsp of vanilla.
This is the best, most delicate carrot cake I’ve had! I’ve previously only made Bravetart’s Brown Butter Carrot Cake, which is really in another genre of carrot cake — towering, heartier, full of nuts — but think this will be my new go-to!
I did not halve the recipe, but used half of the batter (about 600g for me) in a single 9″ round pan for a slightly thicker single-layer cake, and split the rest between three 6″ round pans for a pandemic-sized birthday cake for two. The slightly thicker 9″ layer took around 27 minutes; the 6″ layers were done around 22 minutes. However, lack of impulse control meant the 9″ layer did not survive the cooling process — I couldn’t wait to taste it and tore it apart, may it RIP.
Even my thicker 9″ layer (half batch instead of third, per the recipe) was quite thin, so if I wanted to make a full-size 3-layer cake, I might scale the recipe up slightly. The thin layers are delicate and challenging to handle, but delicious and worth the effort! Thanks, Deb!
I enjoyed the cake but found it too oily. Combined with the frosting and the whole thing is just too heavy. I made the recipe to spec but divided between pans of varying diameters from 9 to 6″. It required about 30 minutes total to bake. I halved the frosting and it covered all three cakes. In future I will go back to a recipe that uses apple sauce in lieu of oil and some can pineapple for moisture and texture. Deb, you are still my biggest kitchen crush.
Would this cake work with ginger nuts instead of graham crackers?
Yes! And pretzels!
I love carrot cake but I detest the gobs of too-sweet cream cheese frosting that it’s always slathered with. Is this cake moist enough to be eaten without frosting?
Would this recipe translate to cupcakes?
Gave the cupcakes a try and did not have good luck. They don’t seem to hold together well enough to eat as a cupcake/muffin so we ended eating them with forks. It’s possible my carrots were too wet so others may have better luck. They also felt a bit oily in the hand and on the wrapper bottom so it’s also possible I messed up a weight somewhere. Flavor was nice and subtle with the sweetness so I will try this recipe again as a cake and stick with your other carrot cake cupcake recipe in future!
Jumping on the cupcake question train. Has anyone successfully done this as cupcakes and, if so, have advise on baking times?
I haven’t made these as cupcakes, but I suspect it would make 12 or maybe 14. Cupcakes usually bake for 15 to 20 minutes, same temperature.
I halved this recipe, and used two 8inch square pans. (Used 2 whole eggs and baked the same amount of time as listed.). Once the cake cooled, I cut each square in half, making 4 thin layers of an oblong rectangular layered cake. It was absolutely amazing, this recipe is spot on!! Thanks, Deb!
Thank you so much for the best ever Carrot Graham Cracker Cake recipe! I made it this weekend for Easter dessert.
I didn’t have any 9” cake pans, so I used my Bundt pan, and baked for 55 minutes. And halved the recipe for the cream cheese frosting.
Tender and moist, everyone loved it! I’ll be making this again, for sure! (with the Bundt cake pan)😊
I’ve been reading and cooking from this blog for over 10 years and have never felt it necessary to comment, but THIS CAKE. I just made it for Easter, added some walnuts and did a thin naked-cake frost to the sides. It was incredible. This was easily the prettiest and most delicious carrot cake I’ve ever eaten. Can confirm that, as stated, the cake tastes twice as nice on day two so definitely make a day ahead. I literally can’t believe how good this was.
I made this Easter weekend made no adjustments to the recipe.
I strongly suggest placing each cake layer on parchment. If you place it directly on the cooling rack the cake sticks.
The cake was absolutely delicious. I will definitely make again. Thanks for sharing
I made this today with some (I think) useful modifications.
First I made a half recipe and baked it in a quarter sheet pan. Then cut the very thin resulting cake crosswise into thirds and stacked those.
Second for those who even find Debs frosting too sweet – make whipped cream cream cheese. Beat a brick of cream cheese until smooth. Add about a quarter cup of sugar (regular or powdered) and mix. Then slowly add about 3/4 carton of cold whipping cream. Add a splash of vanilla if you desire. I make this in my kitchen aid with whisk attachment and use it on everything except when I have a need for a true buttercream.
Ive made this cake 3-4 times now and every time i feel like time stops. The spices are so special, I add a tiny bit more ginger to make it a teeny tiny spicy and then add cardamom too. Every crowd I share it with swears its the best carrot cake theyve ever had. Thank you so much for bringing so much joy into our lives with this recipe of love.
My daughter searched your site (which we love!) for ideas for her birthday cake this year. This is the cake she chose. She helped grate the carrots whilst I measured ingredients. We ended up splitting the batter between two 9″ round pans rather than 3, and simply baked it for slightly longer. She ADORED it. In fact, it was a hit with each member of our family! It is perfectly spiced and not too sweet. It was possibly the easiest carrot cake I’ve ever thrown together!
Deb – I just wanted to let you know that this recipe has been my go-to carrot cake recipe ever since you first published it. I love that it is unadulterated carrot graham wonderfulness without any nuts or raisins. Your recipes are foolproof – it’s clear that you put a lot of effort into making them come out just the way you promise.
This cake was a rollercoaster of emotion, but so delicious!
It was my first time making carrot cake. After I baked my first two layers, I noticed they were REALLY wet, almost to the point of being a pudding, and impossible to stack. I was so disappointed. Normally every Smitten Kitchen cake recipe I’ve tried has been a total winner. I refused to give up though! I decided to bake my 3rd layer two minutes longer, and WOW what a difference that made!
So I actually made the cake a second time too, this time cutting the oil and carrots slightly, and making sure to bake for the full 18 minutes. Came out SO delicious (still very moist, so I guess that’s how carrot cakes are!) and honestly I gasped when I tasted the flavors. One of the best-tasting cakes of all time.
Thanks for the amazing recipe!
This is my favorite carrot cake!!! Absolutely love it!! I have also swapped the graham flour for pretzel and the carrots for zucchini!!! Amazing!! I omitted the salt bc the mini pretzels added enough I thought!! Ahhh! Can’t get enough of it!
I watched my daughter in-law make this cake for a birthday celebration. It was the most delicious carrot cake and will become my new go-to recipe. I liked that it wasn’t so heavy. She frosted the sides and sprinkled graham cracker crumbs on the top and made a beautiful edge. Thanks again for another recipe. Now every time my daughter in-law makes something I ask “Smitten Kitchen?”
I’ve made this for Mother’s Day 3 years in a row now due to popular request by my family. It’s amazing. So moist. The frosting is to die for. Not hard to make. I’ve done 2 layers and 3 layers and it’s turned out perfectly either way. Last year we tried Biscoff cookies instead of graham crackers and it was 10/10. Will continue to make this for years to come.
Can I put a little cinnamon too?
Wow! This is literally the best carrot cake I’ve ever had. I made it for a party and it didn’t survive the night – everyone was wow’ed!! You are my go-to for all cakes from now on!
I’ve never been a big fan of carrot cake, but since my husband likes them I made this one for Easter dinner. Oh wow, now I love carrot cake! It’s so moist, with a lovely carrot and spice flavor, and the icing is delicious without being too sweet. The graham cracker crumbs were what attracted me to the recipe, and they added such a nice flavor of their own. I’ll make this cake again!
Delicious but the layers are much easier to manage if you make only two.
My wife requested a carrot cake for her birthday. I had not been on Smitten Kitchen in a while and when I discovered this recipe I had to make it. It turned out wonderfully and tasted great and she was very pleased.
A really delicious, moist cake, packed with carrots. I’m in the UK so used plain digestive biscuits instead of grahams.
However: I made this in a 7.5 inch tin so I was expecting slightly more generous layers. Instead, when I saw the amount of mixture I decided to bake it in just two layers because it came up so thin. I don’t know how it could possibly work divided by three in a 9 inch pan: the tiers would be wafer thin. (Yes, I triple checked all the ingredient volumes and the use-bys on my raising agents!) So I’ll make it again but I’ll probably just bake it all off in one 7.5 inch tin and slice through to add the frosting.