One-bowl carrot cake

A true Thanksgiving staple—Chef Claire Tansey shares the only carrot cake recipe you’ll ever need.

20 min
2 hrs

This is the cake I made for my sister’s wedding. (Offering to make a three- tiered cake for a wedding taking place in the woods when I was also the maid of honour remains one of my most foolish life decisions.) The wedding day was sweltering hot and humid. When I started to frost the layers at the  venue, the buttercream began melting right off the cake. Then, when I added the supporting dowels and placed the second tier on top of the first, the  entire thing slid sideways. Cue panic! I was glad the lights were dimmed when my sister and her husband cut into it. And there wasn’t a crumb left at the end of the night.

It was a complicated moment for me, but this cake is the best kind of uncomplicated. It comes together quickly and in just one bowl, but it’s packed with flavour, and the orange zest and cranberries take it over the top.


Cream Cheese Frosting


Makes one 9-inch round two-layer cake.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick baking spray.
  2. To make the Carrot Cake, stir the sugar and butter together in a large bowl. Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla and orange zest. Stir in the eggs until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder and baking soda and stir well to combine. Stir in the carrots, cranberries and walnuts.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs still sticking to Let cool in the pans on racks 10 minutes, then flip out onto racks to cool completely.
  4. To make the Cream Cheese Frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and fluffy (by hand or in a mixer). Add the icing sugar all at once and stir until combined. Stir in the lemon juice and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
  5. Place one cake layer on a cake plate and top with about half of the frosting. Spread it right to the edge, then place the second layer on top. Frost the top, leaving the sides bare.

MAKE AHEAD: Make and frost the cake up to 1 day in advance. Or bake the cakes and let them cool completely. Wrap with two layers of plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Assemble and frost the frozen cake layers and let the cake thaw fully at room temperature.