One-Bowl Baking

A Just-Right Carrot Cake, Made Entirely in the Food Processor

February 11, 2016

Some carrot cakes are so chock-full o' stuff that your fork can't travel from frosting to plate without hitting traffic light after traffic light: Walnut. Raisin. Long strand of carrot you'll later find in your molar. Coconut flake. Pineapple chunk?

Others are so homogenous and heavily spiced—the meatloaves and gefilte fishes of the cake world—you'll wonder why (and if) the carrots are even there at all.

But this cake, which comes from Australian food stylist, magazine editor, and cookbook author Donna Hay is a peacekeeper between the two camps. The carrot is present in discernible flecks, neither intrusive nor invisible. The nuts contribute to—rather than disrupt from—the texture as a whole (to continue with our road image, the nuts are speed limit signs, not roadblocks). The cake is moist but not spineless; it's still got a crumb you'll need to chew. And there are no raisins.

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I'd make this cake even if it necessitated standing at the counter with my box grater for 20 minutes, reducing each carrot to a little nub. But perhaps the very best part of the recipe is that it demands no such thing: The entire thing is made in the food processor, which happens to mix together the ingredients to just the right consistency.

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Top Comment:
“We'll, I have to say I am a fan of raisins and pineapple in my carrot cake. And a few additional spices: anise, cardamom and maybe some mace. So I guess I am more of a fruit cake kind of person. But then I also love fruit cake! Almost time to make one.!”
— judy

Pulse together the carrots and nuts until finely chopped, then add all of the other ingredients for the cake and process until smooth. (If you're using weight measurements rather than volume measurements, put your food processor bowl on a scale and zero it every time you add a new ingredient—you won't have to dirty any measuring cups at all!)

Photo by James Ransom

While the cake bakes and cools, wash out your food processor bowl and make the frosting—cream cheese, ricotta, lemon juice, and confectioners' sugar—in the same way. You don't have to soften butter to room temperature or pull out the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, and—what's more—you'll get a frosting that's creamier, airier, and more inhalable than your usual carrot cake topping.

The recipe calls on two spices—vanilla and cinnamon—for flavor, which means, as is not the case with many other carrot cakes, the taste of carrot actually comes through. Play if you'd like: Add other spices (cardamom, ginger, nutmeg); lemon zest; almond extract; chocolate chips; or sesame seeds. Sub in some tahini for the Greek yogurt. Use another type of sugar (or reduce the amount). Try swapping in a new type of flour for half of the all-purpose.

Or declare your loyalty to the chock-full-o' camp and add pineapple and coconut and raisins, too.

Carrot cake: Yes stuff or no stuff? Discuss in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Bayley
  • judy
  • Emma Davis
    Emma Davis
  • Lynn
  • Patricia Brehmer
    Patricia Brehmer
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Bayley February 23, 2018
If someone has an allergy to the pecans/walnuts, can they be substituted with almonds or would the flavor be off? Is there a better non-nut substitute?
judy October 2, 2017
We'll, I have to say I am a fan of raisins and pineapple in my carrot cake. And a few additional spices: anise, cardamom and maybe some mace. So I guess I am more of a fruit cake kind of person. But then I also love fruit cake! Almost time to make one.!
Emma D. March 7, 2017
Wow! Great recipe.
Here is the best Carrot Cake Smoothie bowl recipe I've ever had Very easy to make.
Lynn August 1, 2016
Could you convert the carrots and cream cheese measurements to US equivalent please.
Patricia B. February 24, 2016
Can you even taste the carrots if it gets pulsed that much?
Sarah J. February 24, 2016
Yes, the actual carrot flavor comes through more when it's not masked by tons of spices and other add-ins.
campbell February 16, 2016
Perfect inspiration for a Costco size bag of carrots on a rainy day!
Ileana M. February 15, 2016
Love this take on carrot cake!
MsJoanie February 15, 2016
Hmmm. Half stuffed? In my oven, pineapple is a requirement and nuts are overkill.
Mobar February 14, 2016
Can I uses a standard sized food processor for this recipe?
Sarah J. February 14, 2016
Elizabeth D. February 12, 2016
Excited to try this
Patti T. February 11, 2016
NO stuff maybe some nuts on the outside frosting but no pineapple no coconut and no raisins with all that stuff it is a morning glory muffin not a carrot cake !