This Is the Easiest Carrot Cake You’ll Ever Make

published Nov 18, 2021
Yossy Arefi's Best Carrot Cake Recipe

This impossibly easy carrot cake only takes one hour to whip up.

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Credit: Amelia Rampe

Making a carrot cake can feel overwhelming and intimidating. Between baking the cake layers, making the frosting, and putting it all together, it can feel like a full-day commitment just to get a piece of cake. But what if I told you that you can have carrot cake in less than an hour — no assembly required?

In her fabulous cookbook Snacking Cakes, Yossy Arefi takes all the stress and intimidation out of baking cakes, reminding us that cakes can come together in one bowl with pantry staples. Specifically, Yossy’s My Best Carrot Cake proves just how easy and effortless it can be to satisfy your carrot cake cravings — and that you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to do so.

Credit: Amelia Rampe
Yossy Arefi Best Carrot Cake

How to Make Yossy Arefi’s Best Carrot Cake from Snacking Cakes

In a large bowl, combine lemon zest, granulated sugar, and eggs and whisk until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add neutral oil, ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, grated nutmeg, and kosher salt and whisk until smooth. Add in all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, and baking soda and whisk until the mixture is well-combined. Fold in grated carrots, pitted dates, and chopped toasted pecans. 

Pour the cake into a parchment-lined and greased 8-inch square baking pan. Smooth the top and sprinkle on some flaky salt and more pecans, then bake. How easy is that?

Credit: Amelia Rampe

Why I Love Yossy’s Carrot Cake

This whole cake comes together in less than 15 minutes and is so easy that my 10-year-old daughter can help out, too. It’s tender, moist, and packed with warmly spiced flavor. I also love how versatile it is: Yossy recommends topping it with crème fraîche, honey whipped cream, or a maple honey glaze, but I love cream cheese frosting so I whipped some up while my cake cooled. I even added a little maple syrup to give it another complementary flavor. 

In addition to the topping, Yossy also offers several ways to riff on the flavors of the cake. You can switch up the type of citrus zest, or sub in golden raisins for the dates. She also offers instructions on how to make muffins, round cakes, or a cast iron skillet cake, which I’ve also tried and it works beautifully.

The best part? All the cakes in her book are this easy to make. It’s a great book for people who like to have a little sweet around without having to commit to making a layer cake with frosting. Whether you’re a beginner baker or an experienced one, you’ll love how little you have to do to get a big, delicious pay-off.

Credit: Amelia Rampe

Yossy Arefi's Best Carrot Cake Recipe

This impossibly easy carrot cake only takes one hour to whip up.

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    lemon

  • 1/2 cup

    sugar

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 3/4 cup

    neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cardamom

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly grated nutmeg

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 3/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup

    whole wheat flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 2 cups

    peeled and grated carrots

  • 1/2 cup

    chopped pitted dates

  • 3/4 cup

    chopped toasted pecans, divided

  • Flaky salt, to finish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter or coat an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. Line the pan with a strip of parchment paper that hangs over two of the edges.

  2. Zest the lemon directly into a large bowl and add the sugar and eggs. Whisk the mixture until pale and foamy, about 1 minute. Add the oil, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and kosher salt. Whisk until smooth and emulsified.

  3. Add the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and baking soda and whisk until well-combined and smooth. Then use a rubber spatula to fold in the grated carrots, dates, and 1/2 cup of the pecans.

  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, tap the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles, and smooth the top of the batter with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup pecans and a few flakes of flaky salt, if desired, over the top of the cake.

  5. Bake the cake until puffed and golden, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Then use the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan and set it on the rack to cool completely. (Store the cake, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to three days.)

Recipe Notes

Use Another Pan:

Cupcakes: Bake in a cupcake tin lined with paper liners, filling them no more than halfway full, until puffed and golden, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 12 to 18 minutes. Makes 12 to 18 cupcakes.

Round: Bake in a 9-inch round pan until puffed and golden, and a testerinserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.

Skillet: Bake in a generously buttered 9-inch oven-safe skillet until puffed and golden, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.

Flavor Variations:

Carrot, raisin, and walnut cake: Substitute orange zest for lemon, an equal amount of raisins for the dates, and walnuts for the pecans.


Reprinted with permission from Snacking Cakes by Yossy Arefi, copyright © 2020. Photographs by Yossy Arefi. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.