The Carrot Cake Recipe That Everyone Needs

In September of 2022, I made a Hummingbird Cake out of the Magnolia Bakery Handbook. For the blog post about making that recipe, I titled it “Move Over Carrot Cake, I’m Coming For You!” At the time, I thought that the Hummingbird Cake was the superior of the two cakes. This assumption was made before I tasted the Carrot Cake out of the Handbook. Let me tell you: I think I was wrong about the Hummingbird Cake being superior. Until I tasted this cake, I was only “meh” about carrot cake. This recipe is a must-have and I even included it below!

While this cake is one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted, there is quite a list of ingredients and there’s a decent amount of prep work involved. However, the finished product is totally worth all the effort. The recipe in the Handbook says to make a traditional cream cheese frosting for this cake. But, I decided to take a page out of Ina Garten’s book and “turn it up a notch.” (The frosting recipe came from Ina, and it’s also included below.) I decided to make a ginger mascarpone frosting, adding another layer of flavor to the finished cake.

You may use many of your kitchen tools and a few bowls, but the good news is, there’s plenty of time to do all the dishes while the cake bakes!

There are some similarities between this cake and the Hummingbird Cake. It seems like you just swapped out the bananas for the carrots and change a couple other ingredients. However, the cake ends up being just as moist and flavorful as the Hummingbird Cake. I also love how high each of the layers is, it really makes the cake dynamic and show-stopping.

There are a few in-progress pictures below, and the recipe follows.

The Ultimate Carrot Cake

Recipe courtesy of Magnolia Bakery Handbook by Bobbie Lloyd.

Yield: two 9-inch layers; serves 8 to 16


  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon for the raisins
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3 cups lightly packed shredded carrots (I used about 4 large ones)
  • 1 1/2 cup canned juice-packed crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • One batch of Ginger Mascarpone Frosting (recipe follows)


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottom with rounds of parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. Toss the raisins with the remaining tablespoon of flour. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss together the shredded carrots, pineapple, toasted walnuts, coconut, and raisins.
  4. In a stand mixer with the paddle, beat together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until light and thick. Add the vanilla and oil and beat well. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  5. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just barely incorporated. Remove the bowl and scrape down the bottom and sides. Use a spatula to fold and mix the batter until no streaks of flour remain.
  6. Fold in the carrot mixture. Note: This is a lot of fruit and nuts, so mixing the batter is easier if you transfer it to a large, wide bowl. (I used my lift-bowl KitchenAid Stand Mixer and it worked fine.)
  7. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. (I baked my cake pans on a cookie sheet, so it took longer than 60 minutes.)
  8. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 1 hour. Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Ginger Mascarpone Frosting

Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

I found the dried ginger in the produce section of my big chain grocery store. It’ll be where the other dried fruits can be found. Sifting the confectioners’ sugar BEFORE measuring is best and necessary. It really helps to keep the frosting light.

Yield: Enough for one 9-inch cake with two layers


  • 12 ounces of Italian mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces of full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup minced crystallized dried ginger (not in syrup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla together for about one minute, until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the ginger and the salt and beat for another 30 seconds to one minute.
  3. If you need more cream to thin it out, start with only adding a teaspoon or so at a time. You don’t want the frosting to get too runny.

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