Classic, moist carrot cake is loaded with real carrot, pineapple, raisins, and pecans in a small-batch loaf. Swirls of praline cream cheese frosting make this an unforgettable dessert you'll make again and again.
In case you're new here, carrot cake is one of my top dessert choices. Like...it's in the top three, for sure. People have different ideas of what belongs in carrot cake and I'm definitely on the "all in" side of things. That means plenty of pineapple, nuts, raisins, and, of course, fresh carrot. I'm not for coconut in carrot cake, though, and don't really understand that at all. And I know that raisins are a little controversial but they are a classic carrot cake addition in my eyes. I've even used bourbon-infused raisins before. Today's recipe has a different twist: praline and cream cheese frosting. Trust me when I say it's the bomb. Let's get into this unique carrot cake recipe!
If you like carrot cake, try these recipes, too.
What Goes in Carrot Cake?
Let's start with the basics. I already said what I said about raisins so you know that they go in carrot cake. But there are several other ingredients (don't worry, they're all easy to find and you probably have most on hand) that make for a truly moist, flavorful, and decadent carrot cake. And despite the presence of carrots and other kinds of produce, I think we all know that carrot cake isn't actually healthy, right? Here's the full ingredient list for you.
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Brown Sugar
- Crushed Pineapple
- Granulated Sugar
- Matchstick Carrots
- Pecan Halves or Pieces
- Raisins or Golden Raisins
- Sea Salt
- Vanilla Extract
Tips for the Best Results with this Recipe
- What makes a good carrot cake? A good carrot cake is moist and a bit dense, due to all the mix-ins. The flavor is nutty, warmly spiced, with bursts of fruitiness from the raisins, pineapple, and even carrots. If you're wondering what does carrot cake taste like, think of it as a spice cake with a little extra.
- What kind of carrots to use in carrot cake? Shaved carrots are the go-to when making carrot cake from scratch. As a shortcut, I like to use matchstick carrots. A rough chop ensures the carrots are just the right size. If you opt to shave a carrot instead, use a vegetable peeler for the best results.
- How to keep raisins from sinking to the bottom in carrot cake? The get a nice, even distribution of your mix-ins, dredge them in the dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients to the batter. This step adds a kind of coating that helps nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, and more stay suspended throughout the cake batter instead of sinking to the bottom and burning.
- How to know when carrot cake is done? Carrot cake batter should be a bit thick and certainly chunky due to all the mix-ins so I recommend inserting a tooth pick at multiple points throughout the cake to make sure you've had an even bake. Because carrot cake should be super moist, you don't want the toothpick to come out "clean" but rather with a few tender crumbs on it. Also, don't over mix carrot cake batter or your cake might come out too stiff.
To make this praline carrot cake, you'll need a few tools, first and foremost, a good loaf pan. You can use either a metal loaf pan or glass loaf pan with good results but note that metal pans usually result in a crisper, darker edge around the cake. The photos in this post are a good example of that. Glass pans tend to bake more quickly than metal so you'll want to adjust your baking time and check on the cake more frequently, if you use a glass pan. Here are the other tools you'll need for the recipe:
- Mixing bowl
- Silicone spatula for the batter
- Stand mixer for the praline cream cheese frosting
- Whisk for the dry mix
More Luscious Loaf Cake Recipes to try:
- Banana Rum Pecan Bread
- Key Lime Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- Lemon Berry Quick Bread
- Spiced Banana Nut Bread
- Vegan Harvest Banana Bread
I hope you enjoy a thick slice as soon as possible. It's truly the best. And sharing is caring so make sure you pin this small batch carrot cake recipe on Pinterest. Thanks for reading!
How to Make Praline Carrot Cake from Scratch
Small-batch carrot cake filled with classic mix-ins and spices then topped with nutty praline cream cheese frosting
- 1 ⅓ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground clove
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup raisins
- ½ cup pecans
- 1 cup matchstick carrots roughly chopped
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup butter melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup crushed pineapple
- ¼ cup butter
- ⅛ cup brown sugar
- ⅛ cup heavy cream
- 3 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 cups powdered sugar sifted
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- chopped pecans for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a small loaf pan with nonstick spray and or/line with parchment paper. Set aside.
Whisk together flour, sea salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger in a large bowl. Stir in the raisins, pecans, and matchstick carrots to coat them in the dry mixture.
Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, melted butter, vanilla extract, and crushed pineapple to bowl and stir until just combined and no dry pockets remain. Batter will be thick
Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan and bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into multiple parts of the cake comes out dry (crumbs are fine as the cake should be moist).
While the cake bakes, make praline sauce: melt butter for frosting in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and heavy cream until sauce is uniform. Bring to a boil then reduce to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool fully.
Add softened cream cheese and powdered sugar to a stand mixer or bowl and beat or mix vigorously by hand to combine. Mix in vanilla extract, sea salt, and cooled praline sauce and beat until smooth and fluffy. Frosting may be a bit thin if praline sauce is at all warm but will thicken and stiffen as the cake cools.
Once cooled, frost cake with praline cream cheese frosting and sprinkle chopped pecans over top.