This naked carrot cake is super moist, perfectly spiced, and filled with freshly grated carrots. It is frosted on the outside with a thin crumb coat of cream cheese frosting and decorated on top with even more frosting and chopped walnuts.
This 6-inch three layer carrot cake recipe is absolutely perfect for spring, Easter, or any birthday celebration.
The cake itself is so flavorful from the spices that are used, along with also being super soft and tender. And what's a carrot cake without cream cheese frosting? So of course I had to include that too!
Why You'll Love This Cake
- It's perfectly spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
- The cream cheese buttercream is so smooth and creamy.
- It's easy to decorate with a semi-naked look on the outside.
- Each bite just melts in your mouth.
- It truly is the best carrot cake!
I chose to decorate this cake with more of a "naked" look because I think it looks really pretty, but also, it makes decorating and assembling the cake so much easier!
You can choose to fully frost the cake if you'd like since there is enough frosting to do that.
Expert Baking Tips
- Cake Pans: This recipe calls for three 6-inch cake pans. Line each pan with parchment paper and non-stick spray.
- Measuring Flour: To help ensure you don’t add extra flour, follow these three simple steps: 1) Fluff up the flour using a fork. 2) Spoon the flour into your measuring cup. 3) Scrape a knife across the top of the measuring cup to level out the flour.
- Cream Cheese Frosting: Make sure that the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature before creaming together. This helps to ensure a smooth frosting.
- Dividing the Batter: To make sure I evenly divide up the batter amongst the cake pans I use a ½ measuring cup to scoop the batter into each pan. I count as I go and then switch to a tablespoon as I get less and less batter.
Here are some notes on the ingredients we'll be using. For the full ingredients list, look at the recipe card below.
- Spices: Use ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and ground cloves.
- Sugars: I used a combination of both brown sugar and granulated sugar. Feel free to use either light or dark brown sugar.
- Oil: You can use either vegetable or canola oil.
- Yogurt: Use plain or vanilla yogurt. This helps the cake to be moist and soft. If you don't have yogurt, you could substitute it with sour cream.
- Carrots: Make sure to freshly grate your carrots. Do not use the pre shredded carrots from the store because they do not provide the same amount of moisture as freshly grated ones.
- Cream Cheese: Always use the brick-style cream cheese for baking.
Here are the step by step instructions on how to make a naked carrot cake.
Step 1: Dry ingredients. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
Step 2: Wet ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, sugar, oil, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.
Step 3: Combine the ingredients. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and whisk until everything is incorporated. Then fold in the freshly grated carrots using a silicone spatula.
Step 4: Bake the cake. Divide the batter amongst the three prepared cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing and placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.
Step 5: Cream cheese frosting. Beat together the butter and cream cheese until light and creamy using an electric stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and mix on low until combined. Then beat on high for 1-2 minutes until creamy.
Assembling The Cake
Make sure the cake layers are completely cooled before assembling and decorating.
First, level off the tops of each cake layer to create a flat surface using a serrated knife. Place one cake layer on a cake stand or plate and spread about ⅔ cup of frosting (I use my offset spatula to make it easier).
Repeat with the second layer. Top the cake with the last layer and spread on about ¼ cup of frosting.
Next, frost and smooth the outside of the cake with a thin crumb coat.
Finally, decorate the top of the cake with the rest of the cream cheese frosting (I used a Wilton 6B piping tip) and crushed walnuts.
Keep any leftover cake slices in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
You could also wrap each individual cake slice in plastic wrap before placing it into the refrigerator.
Frequently Asked Questions
I acutally have a carrot cake cupcake recipe on the website. Check it out here!
Some people like to add nuts to their cake batter, like, pecans or walnuts. If you'd like to, mix in ½ cup. You can also add shredded coconut (½ cup).
Yes you can. There is enough frosting to completely frost the cake.
If you don't want to use 6-inch cake pans you could also use two 8-inch or two 9-inch cake pans. Just note that the bake times will be slightly less and the cake layers will be a bit thinner.
It brings me so much joy to see you make my recipes. 🙂
More Cake Recipes
Naked Carrot Cake
- Three 6-Inch Cake Pans
- Mixing Bowls
- Electric Stand Mixer
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup oil (vegetable or canola)
- ½ cup yogurt (plain or vanilla), room temperature
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups freshly grated carrots
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces brick-style cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- chopped walnuts for decorations
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line three 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper then nonstick spray. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, sugar, oil, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined. Pour in the dry ingredients and whisk until everything is incorporated. Then fold in the freshly grated carrots using a silicone spatula.
- Divide the batter amongst the three prepared cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes come out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing and placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer using the paddle attachent, cream together the butter and cream cheese on med-high speed until light and creamy (2-3 minutes). Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until combined. Then beat on high speed for 1-2 minutes until creamy.
- If needed, use a serrated knife to level off the tops of each cake layer to create a flat surface. Place one cake layer on a cake stand or plate and spread about ⅔ cup of frosting. Repeat with the second layer. Top the cake with the last layer and spread on about ¼ cup of frosting.
- Frost and smooth the outside of the cake with a thin crumb coat.
- Decorate the top of the cake with the rest of the cream cheese frosting (I used a Wilton 6B piping tip) and crushed walnuts.
- Keep any leftover cake slices in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.