Alton Brown Carrot Cake

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Today’s recipe is courtesy of the Bill Nye of food, Alton Brown. His Super Simple Carrot Cake recipe is a classic – warming spices, tender crumb and no weird ingredients that family members will complain about. A straightforward and simply delicious carrot cake the whole family will love.

A delicious and traditional carrot cake recipe topped with velvety smooth and tangy cream cheese frosting. This cake recipe is only slightly adapted from Alton Brown's classic carrot cake recipe.

Alton Brown’s Carrot Cake Recipe

All credit for the carrot cake recipe goes to Alton Brown. I changed some of the measurements because I don’t like weighing my ingredients while baking if I can help it, and I reduced his recipe to yield a single layer cake.

The cream cheese frosting is my go-to cream cheese frosting that I’ve also featured in my Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes and Buttermilk Cupcakes. It’s velvety smooth and that perfect combination of sweet and tangy.

Personally, I like adding a lot of mix-ins to my carrot cake – and I never make a carrot cake without adding crushed pineapple. I’ve been making mine this way for so long that I completely forgot what a standard carrot cake should taste like or consist of – and I knew that Alton Brown’s Carrot Cake would be the perfection traditional carrot cake to serve at our family’s Easter supper since some people in my family are not big fans of pineapple.

I adapted his method of preparation slightly but kept his method of changing the oven’s temperature halfway through the baking time, which allows you to develop a golden crunch exterior on the cake while ensuring the center stays fluffy and tender.

This carrot cake is tender and light with the carrots mostly baked in but still adding a sprinkle of color to the cake. The yellow cake is warmed slightly with the addition of allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon. Personally, I would go a bit more heavy-handed with the spices but I’ll leave that to your personal discretion.

I wanted a super simple cake – with minimal decorating but still giving some wow-factor. I decided to opt for a single layer cake with cream cheese frosting slathered on top and then a simple ripple of frosting piped along the edges before being sprinkled with sliced and crushed almonds, which also add another texture to this cake.

The swirled frosting effect is super simple thanks to a star piping tip. Just wriggle your wrist slightly as you gently squeeze the bag and trace along the edge of the cake.

If you even make two cakes or cupcakes a year, I highly recommend purchasing a basic piping set like this one – you won’t believe how easy it is to pipe gorgeous decorations yourself using the right equipment!

(For just a bit more, this starter cake decorating set is a crazy good deal – basically everything you will ever need for cake or cupcake decorating is in here!)

This Carrot Cake is perfect for Easter or birthdays, but is simple enough to whip up for a weeknight dessert when you just feel like treating your family to something special.

For even more fun Easter Ideas, check out our Easter Planning eBook, featuring 32 of our favorite Easter crafts, recipes and decor ideas – it’s free for e-mail subscribers:

 

Carrot Cake Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 medium carrots, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch allspice
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 6oz vegetable oil

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, to taste
  • 2-3 cups powdered icing sugar, to personal preference

Scroll down to the printable recipe card for full measurements.

Tip: personally, I would increase the spices called for in this recipe.

Kitchen Tools You May Find Helpful

How to Make Alton Brown’s Carrot Cake

Preheat oven to 350F

Grease and flour an 8” round cake pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.

Mix in the shredded carrots until well-coated with flour and evenly distributed.

In a food processor, combine the sugars, eggs and yogurt until well mixed. Drizzle in the oil with the food processor still running.

Pour the sugar mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 25 minutes, then reduce oven to 325F and continue baking 15-20 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.

For the cream cheese frosting, combine the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until completely combined. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Start off by adding 2 cups of powdered icing sugar, beat well, then add additional as needed.

Scoop 1/2 cup of frosting into a piping bag fit with a large star tip. Set aside.

Use an offset spatula to spread the remaining cream cheese frosting on the top of cake.

Pipe the reserved frosting onto the edge of the cake, wriggly your wrist slightly as you trace along the edge, applying even pressure to the piping bag to keep a steady flow of frosting.

Sprinkle the cake with your sliced almonds, if using, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Pin this Super Simple Carrot Cake for your next special occasion:

A step-by-step guide to making Alton Brown's Classic Carrot Cake. This cake is super simple but has a couple important tweaks that results in a tender, fluffy cake the whole family will love. Top with our velvety smooth, sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting and crushed almonds

Grab your free printable recipe card for our version of Alton Brown’s Carrot Cake:

Yield: 8 servings

Alton Brown Carrot Cake

Alton Brown Carrot Cake

A delicious and traditional carrot cake recipe topped with velvety smooth and tangy cream cheese frosting. This cake recipe is only slightly adapted from Alton Brown's classic carrot cake recipe.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 medium carrots, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch allspice
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 6oz vegetable oil

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, to taste
  • 2-3 cups powdered icing sugar, to personal preference
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, optional garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Grease and flour an 8” round cake pan and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.
  4. Mix in the shredded carrots until well-coated with flour and evenly distributed.
  5. In a food processor, combine the sugars, eggs and yogurt until well mixed. Drizzle in the oil with the food processor still running.
  6. Pour the sugar mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  7. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 25 minutes, then reduce oven to 325F and continue baking 15-20 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
  9. For the cream cheese frosting, combine the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until completely combined. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  10. Start off by adding 2 cups of powdered icing sugar, beat well, then add additional as needed.
  11. Scoop 1/2 cup of frosting into a piping bag fit with a large star tip. Set aside.
  12. Use an offset spatula to spread the remaining cream cheese frosting on the top of cake.
  13. Pipe the reserved frosting onto the edge of the cake, wriggly your wrist slightly as you trace along the edge, applying even pressure to the piping bag to keep a steady flow of frosting.
  14. Sprinkle the cake with your sliced almonds, if using, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 790Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 306mgCarbohydrates: 120gFiber: 1gSugar: 102gProtein: 5g

Sugar, Spice and Glitter uses an auto-generate nutrition calculator. Nutrition information isn’t always accurate unless analyzed in a scientific lab, so these should be considered more of a guideline than medical information.

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I hope your family loves this super simple carrot cake – please let me know if you try it and what you think!

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