Classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing - The Sweet Rebellion
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Classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

It was my Mom’s birthday last week, so I gave her the choice of what cake she’d like for the occasion. She requested a Carrot Cake, which I was pleased about as it tied in beautifully with International Carrot Cake day on 3 February!

This cake has a delicious melt-in-the-mouth texture and is just spicy enough to enhance the sweet carroty goodness. I used “mixed spice” which is a blend of sweet spices available in South Africa (although originally from Britain where it is also known as pudding spice). The flavour of mixed spice is similar to “pumpkin pie spice” – use this instead or make your own mixed spice (*see recipe notes). I love to add either pecan nuts or walnuts for a bit of crunch, and if you are a fan of sultanas or raisins (I’m not!) then you can add some of them too.

In my opinion, there is no better companion for a classic carrot cake than a rich cream cheese icing. Keep the decorations simple with some chopped nuts and a sprinkling of cinnamon if you wish!

*Recipe updated April 2022


(Serves 10-12)

Carrot Cake:
400g soft brown sugar (2 cups)
4 large eggs
375ml sunflower oil (1½ cups)
5ml vanilla essence (1 tsp)
400g flour
7,5ml baking soda (1½ tsp)
7,5ml baking powder (1½ tsp)
2,5ml salt (½ tsp)
5ml ground cinnamon (1 tsp)
10ml mixed spice (2 tsp)
400g carrots, grated (3½ cups)
115g walnuts, roughly chopped (1 cup)

Cream Cheese Icing:
175g unsalted butter, softened (1½ sticks)
300g cream cheese, softened
750g icing sugar (6 cups)
10ml vanilla essence (2 tsp)
Fresh flowers or chopped walnuts, to decorate


  • Preheat your oven to 170°C. Grease and line 3 x 20cm cake tins with baking paper.
  • Place sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla into a bowl and beat until well incorporated (it may look slightly split).
  • Gradually add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Beat until well combined.
  • Stir in the grated carrots and nuts..
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared tins. Smooth the top with a palette knife.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. I find if I bake all 3 cakes at once they need a bit longer – about 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack and allowing to cool completely.
  • To make the icing, beat together the softened butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  • Sift in the icing sugar a cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Lastly add in the vanilla extract.
  • Once the cakes have cooled, ice one layer with a quarter of the icing. Place the second cake on top, use another quarter of the icing. Top with the last cake and use the remaining icing the cover the top and sides.
  • Smooth neatly with a palette knife, then decorate the cake with the nuts and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

*To make your own @Mixed Spice” combine 15ml ground cinnamon (1 tbsp), 5ml ground allspice (1 tsp), 5ml ground ginger (1 tsp), 5ml ground cloves (½ tsp), 2,5ml ground nutmeg (½ tsp), 2,5ml ground coriander seed (½ tsp).

* If you prefer a whiter icing, you can use clear vanilla essence available at baking stores.

  • Ingrid
    Posted at 18:47h, 11 February Reply

    thanks for the recipie Astrid! I love baking (cooking not so much) and carrot cake is one of my favourite. I tried your recipe and my oh my… what a beauty… divine! now i’m off to try your mousse! xx

    • Astrid
      Posted at 11:51h, 16 March Reply

      Hi Ingrid! Glad you enjoyed the carrot cake. Hope the chocolate mousse turned out great as well!

  • Marsha
    Posted at 16:43h, 04 August Reply

    Need measurement not in metric

    • Astrid
      Posted at 12:49h, 14 August Reply

      Hi Marsha, Ive included the cup and teaspoon measurements now!

  • Sherrye Schwarz
    Posted at 03:58h, 05 August Reply

    Really too bad the measurements are only in European measures. I’ll have to try to convert them to U.S. equivalents.

    • Astrid
      Posted at 12:49h, 14 August Reply

      Hi Sherrye! I’ve added cup measurements, hope this helps?

  • Cherry
    Posted at 19:21h, 03 March Reply

    Hi can this be made eggless and if so how?

    • Astrid
      Posted at 17:10h, 16 March Reply

      Hi Cherry. Yes, you could replace each egg with 4 tbsp of applesauce.

  • Priyanka Puri
    Posted at 05:10h, 04 March Reply

    Any alternative to mixed spice?

    • Astrid
      Posted at 17:10h, 16 March Reply

      Hi Priyanka. Sure, you could use ground ginger instead!

  • Pamela Naidoo
    Posted at 17:18h, 21 April Reply

    Hello Astrid. Loved the carrot cake.
    Made today. 🌺

    • Astrid
      Posted at 13:24h, 25 April Reply

      Thank you so much! It’s one of my favourites!

  • Esmari Esterhuisen
    Posted at 15:42h, 25 June Reply

    Hi! I only have 23 cm pans, would they work?? xx

    • Astrid
      Posted at 11:51h, 30 June Reply

      Hi Esmari. Yes they will work, the layers will just be a bit flatter.

  • Carla Edeling
    Posted at 06:34h, 12 February Reply

    Hi 🌸

    How Many cups is 400g of flour?

    • Astrid
      Posted at 11:10h, 28 February Reply

      Hi Carla!
      400g flour is just less than 3 cups – 712,5ml 🙂

  • Tanya
    Posted at 19:51h, 12 November Reply

    Hello Astrid, would I be able to turn this recipe into cup cakes (maybe by deciding the recipe into half?)

    • Astrid
      Posted at 17:01h, 21 May Reply

      Hi Tanya. Yes you definitely could! I would check the cupcakes at around 20 minutes…

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