Nana's Carrot Cake

This recipe one that is very close to my heart. I’ve mentioned before how much of an influence my Nana has been on my cooking journey. She’s the rock of our family and has always, and still does, throw down in the kitchen for every one who comes to visit.

I come from a very large Panamanian family. My grandfather is the oldest of seven siblings and despite being over a decade older than his closest sibling in age, they’ve all been very close. Every year, for nearly every holiday we’ve celebrated together, the seven siblings with their spouses, children and children’s children. We’d have typical potlock-style parties where everyone would cook one or two meals and bring it to Tia Marcia’s place because she was the only one who had a house big enough for all of us.

Because there were so many of us there was always a LOT of food. Good food, but a lot of it. The best part was that everyone got to go home with a week’s worth of leftovers! All of the Tia’s had their signature dish, Tia Sandra brought the baked Ziti, Tia Felicia had roast beef, Tia Marcia made rice and peas and greens. My Nana’s signature dish was this carrot cake. She brought it to a party one year and every one loved it! They would ask again and again for her to make carrot cake and it often ended up being the only desert at the parties, this delicious, simple carrot cake.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve eaten this cake. Although I’m not much of a baker, it’s one of the first recipes that I’ve ever learned and probably the one I’ve made the most. I’m sure there are thousands of carrot cake recipes out there but I refuse to try any other!

I’ve added the cream cheese frosting to this recipe because apparently it’s a “thing”. Growing up, I never had it with the frosting; it just didn’t need it. I actually prefer the cake without it. Sometimes we’d just dust a little bit of powdered sugar on top to make it look pretty. It would last about 5 seconds then dissolve into the cake because it’s so freaking moist! But if cream cheese frosting is a must for your carrot cake needs then go right ahead. I won’t stop you!

Nana's Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
A classic recipe favorite
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place a sieve in a large mixing bowl. Add in all dry ingredients to the bowl and sift through the sieve. Set aside.
  • Beat eggs, sugars, oil and vanilla in a separate bowl until well combined. Gradually add in dry ingredients to wet mixture and beat well. Stir in orange juice then fold in grated carrots.
  • Pour cake mix into a greased bunt pan or two 10-inch pans and bake for 45 mins. Stick a knife near the center the cake to make sure its dry inside. If not, cook an additional three minutes at a time until dry.
  • While the cake is baking, prepare frosting by beating soften butter and cream cheese in a bowl until creamy. Stir in vanilla, water and powdered sugar
  • Once cake is cooled, about 15 minutes, place a plate on top of the bunt pan and flip over. Drizzle cream cheese icing on top.
  • Details
    Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8-10
    Skill Level: Easy