Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Icing

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese FrostingThis Carrot Cake is light and moist.  So if you are one of those people who love a dense carrot cake, this is not the cake for you!

I have made this cake a bunch of times now, and have yet to have a mishap.  That is not to say that it is 100% fail-proof.  My sister-in-law did manage to make some less-than-brilliant carrot cake cupcakes, but that might be because she is 37 weeks pregnant and slightly distracted.  She swears it’s because she used the very last bit of her self-raising flour and all the baking powder in it MUST have fallen to the bottom of the bag.

Be that as it may.  I love this recipe and would love to share it with you.

Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Icing Recipe


This recipe makes one 9″ Cake (single layer) or 12 large cupcakes.  If you want to make a 2-layer 9″ cake, use the measurements in parenthesis, which are for a double batch. 

  • 200 g grated carrots  {400 g}
  • 2 eggs  {4 eggs}
  • 150 ml sunflower oil  {300 ml}
  • zest and juice of 1 orange  {2 oranges}
  • 175 g light brown sugar {350 g}
  • 100 g self-raising flour  {200 g}
  • 100 g wholemeal self-raising flour {200 g}
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda  {2 tsp}
  • 2 tsp mixed spice {4 tsp}

For the Cream Cheese Icing

  • 100 g butter (or baking margarine – see butter vs margarine below) at room temperature  {200 g}
  • 300 g cream cheese  {600 g}
  • 100 g icing sugar  {200 g}
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract  {2 tsp}

If you make a double-layer cake with piped roses like I have done, you might need to make more than double the amount of icing as the roses do take A LOT of icing!

Making the Carrot Cake

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C (gas mark 4).
  2. Grease and line your cake pan/pans OR place some cupcake cases in your cupcake tin.
  3. If you haven’t already grated your carrots, do so now.
  4. Whisk together the eggs, oil and orange juice.  You want to end up with roughly 300 ml {600 ml} of fluid.
  5. In a separate, large mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (including the orange zest).
  6. Add the grated carrots to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
  7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well, but don’t beat – you’re trying to make light cakes, not rocks!
  8. If you are only making one 9″ single-layer cake, dump the whole mixture into your prepared cake pan.  If you are making 2 9″ cakes, divide the mixture between the two pans equally (ish).  If you are making cupcakes, fill the cases 3/4 of the way to the top.
  9. If you are making cakes, bake them for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  If you are making cupcakes, bake them for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean.  I usually end up putting them back for 2 more minutes.Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Making the Cream Cheese Icing

  • Beat the butter/baking margarine until pale and soft.  If it’s soft, but not pale yet, beat it some more.
  • Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat until everything is well mixed.
  • Finally dump in the cream cheese and mix until combined.  If you are using a mixer, do this at the lowest setting.  Do not over-beat the icing – see below.

 Butter vs Margarine

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese FrostingI know everyone says that baking is best with butter, but there are a lot of times when I find that margarine is actually easier to use (and it doesn’t really affect the taste – unless you are an epicurist!).  This is one of those times.

Cream cheese icing has a nasty habit of becoming very runny if you beat/mix it too much.  If you use baking margarine instead of butter, the icing will keep its shape better, making it way easier to work with.

Unfortunately, once your icing has become runny, there is no way in the world to reverse the process.

The very first time I made cream cheese icing, I thought I just needed to beat it more, which was the worst thing I could do.  Beating it more just makes it more runny.

And adding more icing sugar is always an option, but the appeal of cream cheese icing is the fact that it isn’t sickly sweet – at least it shouldn’t be.  By adding a whole lot more icing sugar (and you would need A LOT), you would be altering the taste of the icing sugar significantly.  Don’t do it!

Putting it in the fridge won’t make it firm up much either, sorry.

So the moral of the story?

  • Don’t over-beat your icing once the cream cheese has been added.  Don’t even stir it too much
  • Use baking margarine instead of butter to help give you a more user-friendly icing.

Icing the Cake

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese FrostingYou can go old-school and just smear some icing between the 2 layers of your cake and on top of it.

OR you could jazz it up a bit by piping some really simple cream cheese roses on the top.  The resulting cake is pretty without being over-the-top girly.  And it really doesn’t take a lot of extra time.

First you will need to fill and crumb-coat your cake.  Then you will need to ice the cake and make the sides nice and neat.  You can find more detailed instructions for that in part 4 of my DIY Wedding Cake Tutorial:  Icing the Cakes.  Just skip the bit at the beginning about making the icing and torting the cake (unless you WANT to torte the cake).

Once your cake is neatly iced, scrape the rest of your cream cheese icing into a piping bag fitted with a rose tip (I used a wide star tip, but a rose tip does work better) and start piping your roses on top of your cake (leave the sides smooth for a more elegant look).

Now this is not the kind of thing I can show you with photos, so I have included a link to a very clear video tutorial by 22do.  I especially like their tip for getting the icing into the piping bag!  You can see the video tutorial for Piping Cream Cheese/Butter cream roses here.

The technique is extremely simple, but as you can see from the photo below, it might take you one or two goes to get the placement of the roses just so.  The idea is to place the roses in such a way that you don’t end up with empty spaces between them.  You can fill the empty spaces up with simple piped “stars”, but it doesn’t look too great if you have more “stars” than roses.

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

And that is my two-cents’ worth on carrot cake and cream cheese icing.  I hope you try it and love it as much as I do.

Have you got a cream cheese icing story to share?  (Lol, bet those are words you’d never thought you’d hear!)

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xxx dedri


  1. christina says

    Do you remember your brother’s beetroot/red velvet wedding cake?. In stead of cream cheese I used egg whites whipped with icing sugar, soured with citric acid. Was it citric acid? yes I am sure it was. The acidic tang of the icing goes really nice with soggy moist ‘fruity-veggie’ cakes.

    • Dedri Uys says

      I didn’t realize that that was what you’d done, Kitta. I am going to try it on my next fruity-veggie cake x


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