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Classic Carrot Cake

Prep Time:

30 mins.

Cook Time:

30 mins.


1 (9-inch) layer cake

Once featured on the back of the Swans Down Cake Flour box, our historic carrot cake recipe has been passed down in American families for generations. Make it as a layer cake, a sheet cake or cupcakes (baking times will vary) and garnish any way you like.



  • 4 cups Swans Down® Cake Flour, sift before measuring
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups grated carrot
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 2/3 sticks (1 1/3 cups) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, cold
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sift before measuring
  • 4 teaspoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest, freshly zested


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter and lightly flour 3 ( 9-inch) round pans, knocking out any excess flour.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ginger.
  3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together sugar, oil and eggs until light and fluffy; stir in the carrots with a wooden spoon.
  4. Stir in flour mixture, mixing until well combined. Gently mix in pecans, until just combined. Pour batter into pans, place in middle of oven and immediately reduce heat to 350°F.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on racks for 10 minutes, then turn out onto racks to cool completely.
  6. Make Frosting: In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat together butter, cream cheese and vanilla until just blended. Beat in sugar in 3 batches until smooth. Stir in orange juice and zest.
  7. Assemble Cake: Place 1 cake layer, dome side down, on a cake plate and spread evenly with about 1 ½ cups frosting. Repeat, layering in same manner with another cake layer and frosting. Top with remaining cake layer, dome side up. Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Garnish as desired, then cover and chill in refrigerator before serving.
    Kitchen Tips
  • Cake layers may be made 1 week ahead and frozen. (Seal completely by wrapping well in plastic wrap.) Thaw layers completely before assembling the cake.
  • For a nutty garnish, press chopped pecans into the sides of the cake.
  • This cake can also be baked in an 18×13-inch sheet pan (check for doneness at 20 to 25 minutes) or in cupcake pans for 36 cupcakes (check for doneness at 18 to 20 minutes).