Make Ahead

Donna Hay's Food Processor Carrot Cake

January 19, 2016
14 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 10 to 12
Author Notes

This cake, which comes from Australian food stylist, magazine editor, and cookbook author Donna Hay is a peacekeeper between the two camps of carrot cake: those chockfull-o'stuff and those where the carrots are barely there. Here, 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.

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 does not, because the entire thing is made in the food processor, which happens to mix together the ingredients to just the right consistency.

The original recipe calls for "1 1/2 cups (225 grams) all-purpose flour." I used 225 grams (and, in my calculations that is closer to 2 cups than to 1 1/2 cups)—but Lauren Locke, our VP of sales, made the cake with 1 1/2 cups (and half the sugar!) with great success. —Sarah Jampel

What You'll Need
  • For the cake:
  • 400 grams carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 120 grams pecans or walnuts (1 cup)
  • 175 grams brown sugar (1 cup)
  • 110 grams granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 225 grams all-purpose flour (see headnote)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 100 grams vegetable oil (1/2 cup)
  • 70 grams Greek yogurt (1/4 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds of
  • For the frosting:
  • 250 grams cream cheese, chopped and softened
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) fresh ricotta
  • 1/3 cup (55 grams) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds of
  1. For the cake:
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 10-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. In a food processor, process the carrots and nuts until finely chopped.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and process, scraping down the bowl occasionally, until combined
  5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until just cooked when tested with a toothpick or wooden skewer.
  6. Allow to cool completely in the pan before turning out and frosting.
  1. For the frosting:
  2. Combine all the ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • DebJ
  • zoemetro uk
    zoemetro uk
  • Dindin S Catherine
    Dindin S Catherine
  • Eric Hoffman
    Eric Hoffman
  • Tatjana Pasalic
    Tatjana Pasalic

29 Reviews

DebJ January 6, 2022
Very straightforward recipe delivers a delicious cake. Question: can the cake be frozen prior to frosting?
Tinaindenver January 6, 2022
I don't see why not. I have frozen it with the frosting and it keeps well because the cake is very moist, so it should be fine without the frosting, too.
DebJ January 7, 2022
Great, thanks for the response. This cake is one my husband's favorites and he's not a regular cake fan.
tanya June 29, 2020
I made the cake weighing the ingredients and substituted 1tsp vanilla (didn’t have a bean) and used a 9” springform. Baked for 75 min and it was perfect- not too dense. My picky kids who hate carrot and nut chunks loved it. Made a half batch of icing and it was enough for the top. I love love love how easy this is! I suppose you could use the grater disc on the food processor if you wanted more carrot “strands” in the cake then add to the batter.
zoemetro U. April 21, 2019
Unfortunately this was a complete fail for me (except for the delicious icing.) It turned out very dense. I must have done something wrong. However, it was so terrible I do not even want to try again. Instead, I will stick with Ina Garten's recipe.
Tinaindenver January 1, 2019
I used a standard package of cream cheese and there was plenty of frosting. My food processor is on the small side--8 cups I think and it was fine. I used the majority of a package of small pealed carrots because it showed the grams and I just estimated how much to leave behind. Lots of complaints about the measurements in grams, but all you need is a scale. I liked the fact that I only dirtied one bowl. Also, it came our of the pan easily. I think next time I might add some crushed pineapple at the end for a little more texture, but it was good as written and made enough for a potluck.
Madison T. August 6, 2018
This was hands down the best carrot cake I've ever had! I made it for Easter for my whole family and was pretty nervous because they are usually much more of a chocolate crowd, but they ate the entire cake! And then my cousin requested the cake for her birthday! In JULY! My food processor was too small too so I used it for the carrots and nuts and just mixed everything else by hand and it still came out great. Love love love this!!
Dindin S. April 20, 2018
Great recipe. I made 2 layers cake. The cream cheese frosting is enough to spread between and on the top of the cakes. This cake taste super yummy.
Rowena B. May 8, 2018
Can I ask did you make the two layers from the one recipe or did you or would you recommend doubling it?
Dindin S. May 11, 2018
Hi Rowena, I made 2 layers cake from 1 recipe. I used two 8-inch springforms. My carrot cake looked so cute yet simple. Too bad I can't show you the picture.
Jeff A. March 26, 2018
great, very moist recipe!
drows February 28, 2018
everything about this cake is marvelous. thank you a thousand times for publishing it :)
Eric H. January 29, 2018
My processor is too small. Can I make this in a mixing bowl?
h March 22, 2019
I cut everything in half and made it in a loaf pan.
Tokyogirl L. January 29, 2018
Thank you so much for listing the amount in metric system!! So much more precise and easy too!! Love the recipe!
Tatjana P. September 15, 2017
This looks easy enough but the inconsistency in measurements really makes it annoying. Please either put grams or cups, it is not easy to calculate things half way through baking.
SF E. January 1, 2017
I made this last night at 4pm, knowing guests were coming that evening. I had some leftover frosting from a carrot cake I'd made the week before. Plusses: this is INCREDIBLY easy, probably fun for kids. Very good taste. Fast. Looks good. Minuses: I found the texture rubbery, as did my kids. I probably over processed it, which is easy to do. I used half the sugar and all the flour recommended, as I only had candied walnuts on hand. I like to see carrot in my carrot cake, and bite down on a few walnuts now and again: if you are the same, this is not the carrot cake for you.
Milehighlori February 19, 2016
This was very quick to whip up. Followed all recommendations: 2 C flour, 3/4 C brown sugar, only 8 oz cream cheese and did it all in an 8 C food processor. Delicious! A great go-to recipe when you are told @ 6 pm that you need to bring in a dessert tomorrow morning.
Kerry G. February 17, 2016
Easy, quick to assemble, and tasty. Reduced brown sugar to 3/4 cup. I personally like chunks and texture in my carrot cake, but my kids don't, so this was perfect for them!
Mobar February 15, 2016
I made this last night, using processor and scale. Easy, and the result is densely delicious! Mine took a bit longer to bake, about 52 minutes.
Scribbles February 15, 2016
Two comments: I love Donna Hay, she is amazing! and, every cook needs a food scale - for a small investment it gives a lot back.
Mobar February 14, 2016
What capacity food processor please? I would love to make this, but I worry my 'standard' sized processor is too small.
Sarah J. February 14, 2016
An 11-cup food processor should be plenty big!
Mark C. February 12, 2016
250 g cream cheese=?
Sarah J. February 12, 2016
It's a little more than one 8-ounce block (the standard you get at the store). You can also get away with using the 8-ounce block and not supplementing (your could get 2 blocks and use the rest of that second one on some bagels!). The measurements aren't catered towards the quantities in US grocery stores because the original recipe is from Australia—sorry about that!
Mark C. February 12, 2016
400 grams of carrot= ???
Sarah J. February 12, 2016
If you're weighing loose carrots at the grocery store, it's a little less than 1 pound.
paulita52 February 11, 2016
Could you please transform this recipe into cups/ tsp etc? It sounds divine!
Sarah J. February 11, 2016
I just added in volume measurements, but please look at the headnote for a note on the flour quantity. Enjoy!