Birthday Carrot Cake

Last weekend we celebrated my friend’s birthday with a day trip in the redwoods of Memorial Park, hiking and enjoying a meal cooked outdoors (previous post). We had a wonderful day, but in my opinion, no birthday celebration could be complete without a birthday cake. After considering the logistics of bringing a double layer cake with frosting (made with cream cheese that would require refrigeration), I decided it best if I bring along two layers of carrot cake individually wrapped and some cream cheese frosting in a compact tupperware. I could then assemble the cake at our lunch site. Everything traveled nicely through the windy roads and the assembly was pretty quick thanks to the easily spreadable frosting. When you are “roughing it” 😉 outdoors, everyone is just happy and grateful that you actually brought a cake along. It doesn’t have to look pretty, you can basically just slap on some frosting, make it look somewhat presentable and call it “rustic.” When you present the cake outdoors it looks like you made it look “rustic” on purpose.

“Rustic” birthday cake fits with the natural scenery

I wanted to share this carrot cake recipe by Mels Kitchen Cafe because it has finally ended my search for the ultimate carrot cake recipe. I love carrot cake, but finding my go-to carrot cake recipe has been a challenge for me. I think I’ve tried over 20 different carrot cake recipes (throughout the years) before I found this one. Some cakes were too dense, others were too oily, and still others just weren’t very tasty. I had a number of “almost there” carrot cake recipes, but just not memorable enough for me to keep the recipes. I’m glad I didn’t give up because this recipe is IT. This recipe makes a delicious double layer cake with just the right amount of moistness and flavor. I “shredded” the carrots in a food processor and I love that you can see the tiny flecks of carrots throughout this cake.DSC_6049  I haven’t felt the need to tinker around with this recipe, but sometimes I add a little less sugar depending on who I’m serving it to and I omit the ground cloves (for my picky little eater). For the frosting I added some more powdered sugar to get the consistency and sweetness we like. Adding the powdered sugar 1/2 – 1 cup at a time, mixing and then tasting each time will help make the frosting just the way you like it.

Carrot Cake

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

This carrot cake is wonderfully moist and flavorful, and the cream cheese frosting can be easily adapted to get the sweetness and consistency that you want.

This recipe is slightly adapted via the Unbelievable Carrot Cake from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe


  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups of carrots, shredded in a food processor
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
  • Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 1/4 to 3 cups powdered sugar (adjust amount to taste)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease two 9-inch round pans
  3. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt).
  4. Beat the sugars (granulated and brown) together with the eggs on medium-high speed until thoroughly combined.
  5. Reduce speed to medium, and with the mixer going add the oil in a slow steady stream down the side of the bowl (to reduce splattering). After adding all of the oil, increase speed to high and continue mixing until mixture is light in color and well emulsified about 45 seconds.
  6. Stir in carrots and dry ingredients (by hand) until just incorporated and no clumps or streaks of flour is visible.
  7. Pour into greased pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Let cakes cool completely before wrapping them in saran wrap. (If you are not serving this within a day, put the wrapped cakes in the freezer, thaw to room temperature when ready to serve).
  9. For the cream cheese frosting: Mix cream cheese, butter, vanilla until smooth. Make sure the cream cheese and butter are softened to room temperature. Add powdered sugar to desired sweetness. The original recipe adds 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar, I ended up needing 3 cups to get the desired consistency and sweetness. It may be a good idea to add the powdered sugar 1/2 – 1 cup at a time and tasting after the addition of each amount until  it is just right for you. This frosting recipe was enough to frost a double layer 9-inch cake (when 3 cups of powdered sugar was added).


Everyone was too busy looking at the scenery to see the crumbs showing in the frosting
Cutting the cake with a small plastic knife helps to reinforce the rustic theme
Have a slice, there’s plenty!


Carrot Cake was my friend’s choice for a birthday cake, what would be YOUR choice?

6 replies to “Birthday Carrot Cake

  1. Your carrot cake looks gorgeous! (And delicious!) Also, your version of “rustic” is like me trying my hardest–glasses on and all–and it still doesn’t come out anywhere near as nice, lol. Your friend is so lucky to have such a sweet friend in you–that is one beautiful cake. BTW, I have your banana bread w/ cream cheese filling in the oven! Smells sooo good…can’t wait to EAT!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG! It makes me so happy that you tried the banana bread! Hope you guys liked it. Thanks always for your kind words, means a lot. Your comments are hilarious and I have to be careful when I read them as I always bust up laughing (got a lot of looks in line at Target!).
      The countdown for your trip continues!! Anticipation and excitement must be filling your house!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sorry…I would’ve replied sooner, but we were too busy STUFFING our faces with that delicious banana bread of yours! Holy cream cheese filling–Chloe called it life altering, and that’s from a girl who doesn’t even like cream cheese OR bananas. You’d never know it the way she was pounding down multiple slices, lol. Soo delicious; thank you so much for sharing the recipe. Kids are already asking to make it again! And thank YOU for your kind words, always. It means so much to have such a sweet friend out there in blog-landia!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ethe blogs are so descriptive! Years ago you suggested a visit to the town and the gro store. Yes, delicious items. Had dinner there but your trials are scenic and call to hikers! Okay. I love carrot cake. So trying this is a must. Soon. Yes, I want a piece now.

    Liked by 1 person

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