This Small-Batch Carrot Cake comes together quickly in one bowl, with no mixer required! It’s a simple 9-inch sheet cake that even the most beginner baker can easily make. Spread that silky Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting over your moist, spiced carrot cake and enjoy a slice (or two) with a cold glass of milk.
I know there are plenty of carrot cake lovers out there, but for those of you who may need a bit more convincing, let me tell you about this cake! It’s fluffy and moist, with lots of flavor from the carrots, and all the cozy spices. If you don’t like carrot cake because of the nuts – never fear! You can simply omit them from the recipe. And that frosting on top?! Swoon! Let’s learn how to make it.
What Ingredients are in this Carrot Cake:
The line-up of ingredients for this cake is super simple! For the wet ingredients we’re using:
- Granulated and brown sugars
- Vegetable oil
- Vanilla extract
- Sour cream
And, here’s what you’ll need for the dry ingredients:
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder & soda
How to Make a Carrot Sheet Cake:
Start by whisking together all your wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Then, add your dry ingredients to the same bowl – no need to get out an extra bowl for this simple recipe. Whisk the dry into your wet ingredients until you have a nice smooth batter. Then, stir in your grated carrots and chopped nuts.
Carrot Cake Tip: Be sure to grate your own carrots, rather than using the pre-grated you find in a bag at the store. They are drier and can create a drier cake. Be sure to use the really fine holes on the box grater too – you don’t want big chunks of carrot in your cake.
Here’s what the finished batter will look like before being baked!
How to Prepare your Cake Pan:
To keep your cake from sticking in the pan, grease it with shortening. Use a paper towel to rub the shortening into the corners of the pan really well. Then, dust the whole thing with flour, tapping out any excess. This method never fails – your cake will pop out perfectly every time!
Bake your cake just as directed in the recipe. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a cooling rack to cool completely before adding the frosting. And let’s talk about that frosting!
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:
This frosting is the BEST tasting frosting I’ve ever had. Combining the flavor of brown butter and the creaminess of cream cheese makes the most insane frosting. This is a super basic frosting – all you’ll need are:
- Salted butter
- Cream cheese
- Powdered Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
I usually add a pinch of salt and cinnamon as well, but you can taste the frosting and adjust it accordingly.
How to Decorate your Sheet Cake Carrot Cake:
Spread the frosting onto your cooled cake. Here’s my method – start by piling the frosting in the center of the cake. Then, use an offset spatula to push it out towards the edges of the cake. But, don’t break through the edges of the frosting – keeping those intact will create that beautiful, pillowy look. Once the frosting is spread out as far as you want, use the tip of the offset spatula to create swoops and swirls in the frosting. Sprinkle crushed pecans or walnuts on top for decoration, or use some festive Easter-colored sprinkles.
Serve this small-batch carrot cake up at a smaller Easter gathering, or bring it to an Easter meal where there will be multiple dessert options! Since it’s not a towering three layer cake, you can completely justify having a few other dessert options alongside it. Hehe. Serve with cold milk or hot coffee – whichever you prefer, they’re both wonderful with this tender, spiced carrot cake.
I hope you love this cake as much as we do! Have a happy and joyful Easter, and happy baking!
More Easter Desserts:
Perfect Classic Cheesecake with Homemade Strawberry Sauce – Light and creamy, with a crisp crust, and luscious strawberry sauce on top.
Lemon Blueberry Thumbprint Cookies – An easy lemon sugar cookie dough is rolled in lemon sugar and baked with blueberry jam in the center.
Easter Egg Blondies – These festive Easter blondies are thick, buttery, caramel-y, and topped with a robins egg candy frosting – just try to stop at one!
Easter Egg Seven Layer Bars – A graham cracker crust is topped with layers of coconut, pecans, sweetened condensed milk, semi sweet & white chocolate chips, and your favorite easter candy!
Raspberry Lemon Sweet Rolls – A jammy raspberry filling is baked inside a sweet, pillowy brioche dough.
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Small-Batch Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
For the Cake
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp brown sugar, packed
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 and 1/2 large eggs See note
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp sour cream Use full fat
- 1 and 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 and 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 3 large carrots, finely grated About 1 and 1/2 cups
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped Can sub walnuts or omit nuts entirely
For the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6 tbsp salted butter See note
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- pinch of cinnamon
Brown the Butter: Brown your butter ahead of time so it can chill in the fridge. In a nonstick pot or pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Turn the heat to medium-low and continue cooking the butter - stirring constantly. The butter will get foamy, then turn golden, then start to turn brown and develop a nutty/caramely aroma. Once it reaches a deep golden color, remove from the heat and pour into a heat-safe container. Let it chill in the fridge so that it can come back to the consistency of room temperature softened butter.
Make-Ahead Tip: This can be done up to 2 weeks ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Let it soften back to room temp before using, as you normally would with butter, if it has completely hardened.
Prep: Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease a 9x9 inch cake pan with shortening (use a paper towel and make sure to get into all the corners well). Then, dust the pan with flour, tapping it around so the shortening is coated entirely. This will ensure your cake pops out perfectly after baking!
Make the Cake Batter: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, sugars, eggs, vanilla, milk, and sour cream. Whisk in the carrots. Add the dry ingredients and pecans, and mix just until the last streaks of flour disappear.
Bake: Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 43 to 46 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs, not wet batter. Let the cake cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a plate, then onto a cooling rack (so it's right-side-up). Let the cake cool completely before frosting it.
Make the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting: Add the brown butter and cream cheese to a medium mixing bowl and cream on high speed with an electric mixer, for 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, and mix until creamy. If it's not coming together, add 1-2 tsp of milk. Taste, and add a pinch of salt and or cinnamon if desired (I always do!). Frost the cooled cake with a butter knife or offset spatula and create swoops and swirls for a pretty look.
Serve + Store: Sprinkle the top of the cake with chopped nuts, sprinkles, or serve it as is. Serve the cake immediately, and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Note: To measure half an egg, simply beat a whole egg well in a small bowl or measuring cup. One large egg is about 50 grams. Use half of that - 25 grams, or two tablespoons. Reserve the other half for your morning scramble!
Note: I love the flavor the brown butter adds to the frosting, but you can just use the butter as-is in a pinch, instead of browning it.
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