Perfect Carrot Layer Cake with Buttermilk Cream Cheese Frosting

There is nothing more made for spring than this perfect carrot layer cake with buttermilk cream cheese frosting! With thin layers of cake and generous amounts of buttermilk cream cheese frosting.

As promised, I couldn’t hold out on giving you all this cake recipe as soon as possible. I know I had the ultimate cake tease on Monday when we made our pregnancy announcement with this cake, and then I didn’t give the recipe to you right away. But I was just so pumped to share the news, the recipe had to wait.

But I promise, it is worth the wait! Carrot cake is one of my favorites, mainly because of the cream cheese frosting. But cream cheese frosting on a layer cake can be VERY tricky. This buttermilk cream cheese frosting is the ultimate layer cake frosting that actually stays and doesn’t wilt! Which if you have ever decorated a cream cheese wedding cake in 95 degree heat, it is a bitch! (I had to frost the cake IN a fridge to keep it safe!)

Anyway, whether you’re celebrating something fun, just satisfying a craving, or looking for a fabulous spring or Easter cake, you need to save this recipe.

Cakes can be tricky, but this one really is a huge time saver. I have a copy of America’s Test Kitchen Perfect Cakes book, where this original recipe came from. What I love about this recipe, is that is actually is probably the fastest layer cake I have ever baked, because it’s made in one sheet pan, and then cut to fit into layers. GENIUS.

Then, the buttermilk cream cheese frosting uses powdered buttermilk to add that essential tang, along with the stiffness required to make the frosting fit for a layer cake. Brilliant!

If you’re new to cake decorating, this is also a good cake to start with. It will allow you to practice your decorating techniques, but you can also cover up all your mistakes with chopped pecans in the end. So if you want an impressive cake, that doesn’t take culinary graduate skills, this perfect carrot layer cake with buttermilk cream cheese frosting is a fabulous one to start with!

four layer carrot cake with buttermilk cream cheese frosting

Cakes are one of my favorite things to make, and I have a whole category dedicated to cakes and decorating. You can find my replica Lemon and Elderflower cake that I made in commemoration of Harry and Meghan’s wedding. Or the Campfire Cake I made for Emmett’s First Birthday!

Below are a few of the items that you might want to have on hand. I substituted Zante currants for chopped raisins, because my store sucks and doesn’t carry them. Also included is the powdered buttermilk, just in case you can’t find that either, but it is usually in the baking aisle of most stores. (PS – yes these are affiliate links, so I might earn a few cents if you buy from them.)

Yield: 12

Perfect Carrot Layer Cake with Buttermilk Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

Carrot Layer Cake

  • 1 3/4 cup Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1 1/4 cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 2/3 cup Shredded Carrots (4 carrots)
  • 2/3 cup Dried Currants, or Raisins chopped finely

Buttermilk Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup (16 Tbsp, or 2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces and then softened at room temperature
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup Buttermilk Powder
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 12 Ounces Cream Cheese, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups Pecans, toasted and chopped

Directions:

For Carrot Layer CakeĀ 

Place oven rack in middle position. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 18×13 rimmed baking sheet, or jelly roll pan. Place parchment paper on the bottom, and then lightly spray the parchment paper with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla until it is smooth. Stir the carrots and currants (or raisins) into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into the flour and gently fold it together with a rubber spatula until it is just combined.

Pour the mixture into the baking pan and smooth out the top as best you can. Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes, or until the center is just firm. Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack in the pan for about 5-10 minutes. Gently lift the parchment paper and slide the baking sheet out from under the cake, and allow the cake to cool completely on the wire rack, about 30 minutes. Use a second wire rack to lay on top of the cake, and invert the cake so that the parchment side is on top. Remove the parchment and allow the cake to cool.

For the Buttermilk Cream Cheese Frosting

In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, buttermilk powder, vanilla and salt on low speed until it is just combined. Scrape down the bowl, especially the bottom of the bowl, and beat again until combined. At medium speed, add in the cream cheese, one piece at a time and mix until the frosting is well combined and smooth. About 3 minutes on medium speed.

To AssembleĀ 

Place the cooled cake on a large cutting board, and cut the cake in half lengthwise, and then crosswise. It will come out in about 8×6 inch rectangles. I recommend using a bread knife for this.

Place one layer of the cake onto a cake stand. Place about 2/3 cup of the frosting on the layer, and spread evenly. Repeat with the next three layers until you have covered all of the layers. Use about 1 1/2 cups to cover the edges. It is okay if the crumbs get into the sides of the cake, as you will use the toasted pecans to cover that up.

When fully frosted, gently press the pecans into the sides of the cake. If you wish to top the cake with toasted coconut, that is a great idea, too. And it covers any mistakes, like crumbs, on the top. Or you can use the back of a spoon on top to create swirls in the top.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours to allow the cream cheese to set. I kept mine overnight in the fridge and it was perfect.

Serve.

Original cake from America’s Test Kitchen Perfect Cake Cookbook. Carrot Layer Cake