This deliciously moist Easter carrot cake traybake is the perfect bake to share with friends and family or be the centrepiece of your Easter table.
I absolutely love carrot cake. And this carrot cake traybake is so so so delicious. It’s so soft and light, but still moist and spongey. Packed full of spiced carrot and topped with the creamiest tangy cream cheese icing. Its so simple to put together and looks so so cute with the little carrot decorations. It’s perfect for the long Easter weekend, sharing with friends and family or as a crowd-pleasing dessert for your Easter dinner!
Key Ingredients You’ll Need
- Neutral oil – Carrot cake is almost always oil based. It gives you a lighter texture that is needed when adding grated vegetables/nuts, and keeps the cake super moist! You can use any neutral oil you like so; corn, vegetable, sunflower etc.
- Pine Nuts – You may not be expecting pine nuts in a carrot cake, but I absolutely love adding them to mine. The pine nuts aren’t as chunky as having a traditional walnut in the cake, but they still give you that little bite that is the perfect texture against the soft cake. The slight sweetness they provide too, works so well against the cinnamon, rather than a more bitter nut.
- Maple Syrup – I know maple syrup can be expensive, but the depth of flavour it brings to the cake really can’t be matched! It also helps to keep the cake super soft and light, and extends its shelf life!
How to make an Easter carrot cake traybake
This carrot cake traybake is really quick and easy to make. You only need one bowl, a sieve (though even that is optional!) and an electric hand-whisk. You definitely could make this traybake with a regular manual whisk, but it will just take you that little bit longer, so I’d advise using electric instead! To bake the traybake, you’ll need a high-sided rectangular baking tin. If you don’t have a rectangular tin for cake baking, have a look at your roasting dishes as these will work just the same!
Making the carrot cake batter
Carrot cake may taste and smell delicious, but it looks absolutely awful before baking. So don’t be deterred by that!! The first step is to whisk the oil, eggs, brown sugar and maple syrup together until creamy and full of air. This will take about 4/5 minutes using an electric hand-whisk – hence why I advise above not to do it by hand!
Once the wet mixture is creamy, you can fold in the dry ingredients by hand using a silicone spatula or a wooden spoon. Doing this part by hand stops you from over-mixing which would end up in a tough, dry cake! We want our cake to be as soft and light as possible, so folding by hand really helps, as does sifting in the flour!
If I’m totally honest I’m usually too lazy to sift my dry ingredients, but for this cake I’ll always go the extra mile as it tastes so good!!
The final step is to stir in the pine nuts and grated carrot. You don’t need to chop the pine nuts as they’re small enough already, but the carrot should be completely grated. I grate mine using the ‘regular’ side of a grater, but if you prefer a smoother textured cake you could use the fine side of the grater instead.
By this point the batter looks awful, but tastes amazing, and remember thats the most important part! The cake should be baked for about 30 minutes, but all ovens are different so make adjustments accordingly.
Making the cream cheese icing
Cream cheese icing in my opinion is one of the best icings to top a cake with because it cuts through the sweetness so well! It’s tangy, creamy and sweet, without being packed full of sugar and butter. It’s also so so quick and easy to make!
I like to make my cream cheese icing with an electric hand-whisk, just to make it extra light and creamy, but you can do it with a manual whisk too. All you need to do is beat the cream cheese, double cream and icing sugar together. That’s literally it.
Occasionally your cream cheese icing can turn runny and doesn’t hold together well enough to use as an icing. This is usually due to too high a water content in the cream cheese, or over-mixing. You can easily fix it though, by adding in some more double cream and whipping until it thickens.
Decorating the traybake
Once you have your thick and creamy cream cheese icing and your cooled cake you’re ready to begin decorating. To make the cute little carrot decorations, you’ll first need to separate out some of the icing into two small bowls and add food colouring to each. You want a nice vibrant orange and green, to really make the carrots pop. Then both coloured icings need to be placed into piping bags. If you don’t have piping bags you could use sandwich/freezer bags instead, and just snip off a corner to create a make-shift piping bag.
Before decorating the cake, place it onto a serving board or platter that you want to present it on. It’ll be muchh harder to move around once decorated and you don’t want to ruin any of your hard work!
Then using a small palette knife, swirl on the icing. It will be thick and luscious and so fun to swirl around. Really take your time with it and get it exactly how you want. Then with the orange icing first, pipe small squiggles in a sort of elongated triangle shape, making sure you place them evenly all across the cake. Then using the green icing, pipe small little leaves coming out of the top of the ‘carrot’ triangles.
And there you have it! A super cute, really delicious and so simple Easter carrot cake traybake!
Tips & Tricks
This carrot cake lasts so so well, so you can definitely make it the day before you want to serve. Though as the icing has such a high proportion of cream cheese and cream, I would add this on the day of serving just to be on the safe side. As unless a cake is completely covered in buttercream (and therefore ‘sealed’) it should be kept out of the fridge, which could become a problem in warm temperatures with cream cheese and cream.
If your cream cheese icing has become runny, it may have been from over-mixing or too high a water percentage in the cream cheese. You can fix it, by adding about 25-50ml more double cream and whipping until thickened. This works best if the double cream is chilled.
Yes you can! The cake can easily be made into 3 x 8inch cake layers. You will have enough icing to fill the cake, but not enough to coat the entire outside of the cake. If you want to do that, I would advise doubling the icing recipe.
This Easter carrot cake traybake is so moist, flavourful and SO light. It will be such a crowdpleaser – believe me, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t fall in love with this cake! – and look so cute on your Easter table! The carrot decorations are so easy to make and make the cake look so cute! I really hope you love this cake as much as I do!
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Easter Carrot Cake Traybake
- 4 large eggs
- 225 ml neutral oil sunflower/vegetable/corn
- 175 g soft light brown sugar
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 300 g self raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 50 g pine nuts
- 350 g grated carrot approx. 2-3 large carrots
- 400 g full-fat cream cheese
- 50 ml double cream
- 75 g icing sugar
- green food colouring
- orange food colouring
- For the cake: Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4 and line and grease a 12x9inch baking tin. Place the eggs, oil, sugar and maple syrup into a large bowl and using an electric hand-whisk, whisk for 4-5 minutes until well combined, creamy and full of air bubbles.
- Sift together the cinnamon, flour, baking power and bicarbonate of soda, then fold into the wet mixture by hand using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Finally, stir in the pine nuts and grated carrot. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- For the icing: Place the cream cheese and double cream into a large bowl and whisk using an electric hand-whisk until combined and creamy. Then add the icing sugar and whisk until smooth and creamy. Remove 50g of the icing and place into a small bowl, and mix in a blob of orange food colouring until evenly combined. Then place into a small piping bag, and cut off the end to create a very small hole. Next, take 25g of the icing and place into another small bowl, and mix in a blob of green food colouring until evenly combined. Then place into another small piping bag, and again cut off the end to create a small hole.
- To decorate: Place the cooled cake onto a serving board or platter. Then using a small palette knife, swirl on the plain white icing, evenly distributing it over the cake. Then with the orange icing first, pipe small squiggles in an elongated triangle shape, making sure you place them evenly all across the cake. Then using the green icing, pipe small little leaves coming out of the top of the 'carrot' triangles. Serve and enjoy!