Carrot Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 3 hr
  • Prep: 1 hr 20 min
  • Inactive: 1 hr
  • Cook: 40 min
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings
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For the cake: 

Cooking spray

2 3/4 cups chopped walnuts

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

4 large eggs

1/2 cup smooth applesauce

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups grated carrots (about 4 medium)

For the frosting:

1 4-inch piece ginger

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted


  1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9-inch-round cake pans with cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment paper. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then finely chop.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt onto a large piece of parchment (or into a medium bowl). Beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar and vegetable oil in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium high and add the eggs, one at a time; beat until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the applesauce, orange zest and vanilla and beat until just smooth. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add the carrots and 3/4 cup walnuts and beat until just combined.
  3. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 10 minutes in the pans, then remove to the rack to cool completely; remove the parchment. (The cake layers can be made a day ahead; let cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap.)
  4. Make the frosting: Peel the ginger and grate onto a piece of cheesecloth. Wrap in the cheesecloth and squeeze the juice into a small bowl (you should get about 1 tablespoon). Add the orange juice and vanilla to the bowl. Beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the juice mixture. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until smooth, about 2 more minutes.
  5. Place 1 cake layer on a platter, rounded-side down. Spread with 1 cup frosting, then top with the second cake layer, rounded-side down. Cover the top and sides with the remaining frosting. Press the remaining walnuts into the sides of the cake. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.