Recipe Review

The Universally Perfect Carrot Cake Everyone You Know Will Love

published Sep 8, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk | Graphics: The Kitchn

Many people associate King Arthur Baking Company with their popular line of baking products — flours, spice mixes, bakeware, and even a magazine. But their online collection of recipes is just as impressive! It includes recipes for sourdough, cookies, cakes, and more. So when it came time to pick out recipes for our carrot cake showdown, I knew I needed to check to see if they had one.

King Arthur Baking Company’s five-star carrot cake recipe is fairly traditional and sticks to the classic ingredients found in most recipes. It comes together quickly, doesn’t require a mixer, and gets enrobed in a homemade cream cheese frosting. What intrigued me the most was that it called for an entire tablespoon of ground cinnamon (!) along with ginger and cloves, so I was eager to see how it would taste. Would it be too spicy, or bright and flavorful? I headed to my kitchen to find out.

Get the recipe: King Arthur Baking Company’s Carrot Cake

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk | Graphics: The Kitchn

How to Make King Arthur Baking Company’s Carrot Cake

King Arthur’s recipe is fairly traditional and comes together quickly. You’ll start by greasing two large cake pans (or a 9×13 rectangular pan) and preheating the oven. (For the sake of this test, I went with the two round cake pans.) In a large bowl combine vegetable oil, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and baking soda. Add flour and stir until combined. Next, add grated fresh carrots and chopped pecans or walnuts. Stir until combined, then pour into the prepared pans and bake until a cake tester comes out clean.

As your cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. Beat together unsalted butter and cream cheese until smooth, then add salt and vanilla extract. Beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth, adding a teaspoon of milk if the frosting is too thick. (I didn’t need it.) Assemble the cake by frosting the top of one layer of cake, topping with the second round, and frosting the whole thing. Refrigerate the cake, then remove it from the fridge an hour before serving.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of King Arthur Baking Company’s Carrot Cake Recipe

This cake was exactly what I picture when I think of classic carrot cake: moist, lightly spiced, and held together with a tangy cream cheese frosting. The cake has nothing unexpected or unique going on, but that’s precisely what made it so good. It was a masterclass in simplicity! The combination of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger was bold without being too strong, and the carrot flavor was pronounced.

This cake was also super easy to assemble. The layers held together nicely and the frosting was smooth and easy to work with. Baking the cake (and eating it!) was an overall enjoyable experience — and I would happily make it again. If you’re looking for a no-frills, classic carrot cake recipe, this is for you. But if you’re interested in making something a little more exciting, this recipe might disappoint you. It’s delicious and relatively easy to make, but very much sticks to the classic carrot cake flavors.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

If You’re Making King Arthur Baking Company’s Carrot Cake, a Few Tips

1. Line your baking pans with parchment paper. Although the recipe doesn’t call for it, I found that lining the baking pans with parchment paper provided added insurance that the cakes wouldn’t stick.

2. Don’t be afraid of the cinnamon. One tablespoon of ground cinnamon might sound like a lot, but don’t be nervous! It gives the cake a nice warm flavor that is prominent but not spicy.

3. Toast your nuts before adding them to the batter. The recipe states that using toasted nuts will result in better flavor, and it’s not wrong. I used toasted walnuts to make the cake and they provided a rich, nutty flavor that added an extra depth of flavor I loved. (Pro tip: If you’re pinched for time, you can quickly toast them in the microwave!)

4. Feel free to throw in some add-ins like raisins or coconut. The headnote of the recipe suggests adding up to 1 1/2 cups of add-ins to the batter. I could see golden raisins, dried cranberries, or toasted coconut working well in the batter.

Rating: 8/10

Have you ever made King Arthur’s carrot cake recipe? Tell us what you thought!

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk | Graphics: The Kitchn