My carrot cake tray bake is a delicious moist and fluffy cake packed with grated carrots, walnut chunks and my delicious spice mix, then spread generously with a tangy cream cheese icing and even more walnut pieces. Not only is this a super easy bake, but it’s always a crowd pleaser!
Not just one of your five a day!
I love carrots, they’re such a versatile vegetable. Centuries ago, when sugar was more scarce, they were used as a natural sweetener in bakes. And more recently, as many will remember, they have been touted as being good to help you see in the dark.
Safe to say, carrots have long been a staple of many diets around the world. And they’re so adaptable, they can be used in both savoury and sweet creations.
What ingredients do I need to make this carrot cake tray bake?
- Oil: using oil instead of butter helps keep your bake light, but also helps it last well for days.
- Buttermilk: keeps your bake tender and beautifully moist. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make it up with equal weights of butter and greek yogurt (this is my preferred method).
- Eggs: helps with the structure and rise of the cake.
- Vanilla: for added rounded sweetness in the cake and icing.
- Brown sugar: I love the caramel notes brown sugar brings to this bake.
- Caster sugar: for sweetness in your cake.
- Carrots: the star of this bake! I like to grate my carrots using a larger sized grater, as I like the chunkness of it throughout the cake.
- Flour: I use plain flour for this tray bake as it allows me to have control of the amount rising agent used in my bake.
- Baking powder/bicarbonate of soda: just for a little bit of help with rising in your bake.
- Salt: enhances the flavours in your bake. You won’t taste it, I promise!
- Spices: a lot of carrot cakes use just cinnamon for the spice in the recipe, but I like the addition of nutmeg, cloves and cardamom for an extra dimension of flavour.
- Walnuts: for texture and crunch. Totally optional, but a nice addition to your bake.
- Butter: use unsalted at room temperature, for your icing.
- Icing sugar: for your cream cheese icing to top your cake.
- Cream cheese: the beautiful tanginess of cream cheese goes so well with the carrot cake!
What equipment do I need to make a tray bake?
- Tray bake tin:* you can use a roasting tin too, but I like the sharper corners in a tray bake tin.
- Parchment paper: to line your tin.
- Digital kitchen scales*: even though I provide measurements in cups too, I would strongly encourage you to weigh out your ingredients instead. This is much more accurate than measuring by volume, and will ensure better results. Digital scales are widely available and relatively inexpensive, so definitely worth the invest!
- Measuring spoons*: for measuring smaller quantites such as tablespoons (tbsp) and teaspoons (tsp), I would recommend getting a set of dedicated measuring spoons. This is a far more accurate measurement than using your everyday eating spoons, which can vary greatly in size.
- Jug*: to mix your wet ingredients in.
- Whisk*: for mixing together your wet ingredients.
- Grater*: to grate your carrots.
- Large mixing bowl*/mixing bowl*: to mix together your cake and icing mixtures.
- Sieve*: to remove any lumps from your dry ingredients.
- Spatula*: used to mix your cake ingredients together, as well as your icing.
- Handheld electric mixer*: to beat your icing ingredients together. You can do this by hand, but I find it much easier using an electric mixer for this.
How to make carrot cake tray bake
This traybake is so quick and simple to bring together, the largest effort in this whole bake is grating the carrots!
For the cake:
Step 1: Line your 8″x12″ tray bake tin with parchment paper and set it aside. Preheat your oven to 170C/340F while you make your carrot cake batter.
Step 2: In a large jug or bowl, tip together your oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and sugars. Whisk to combine, then add in the grated carrots and stir to mix it all together. Set aside.
Step 3: In a separate large bowl, sift together your flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), salt and spices, giving it a quick mix together. Pour in your wet ingredients and mix it all together with a spatula.
Step 4: Tip your carrot cake mixture into your prepared tin and spread into the corners, levelling the top. Bake in your preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until springy to touch and a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool for five minutes in the tin, then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.
For the cream cheese icing and decoration:
Step 1: Once your cake is cool, make your cream cheese icing. First, beat your butter well until light and fluffy. Add in the icing sugar and vanilla and beat again to combine completely and fluff up. Give your cream cheese a little mix to soften it slightly, then tip it in with the other ingredients and beat to fully combine.
Step 2: Spread your cream cheese icing over your cooled carrot cake, pushing it all the way to the edges. Use a knife or off set spatula to give your icing some texture, then sprinkle with walnut chunks. Cut into beautiful chunky pieces and enjoy!
How do I line my tray bake tin?
Cut a rectanglular piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the base and up the sides of your tin when placed inside. With the tin in the middle of the paper, cut slits into each corner of the paper to the corner of the tin, then fold each “flap” to create tight creases. Lightly grease your tin with a little melted butter and push the parchment into your tin, easing it into the corners. I like to use metal clips to hold the paper securely to the sides of the tin, but this is totally optional.
How do I know when my cake is done?
You can tell your tray bake is done because it will have risen and be firm on top, and springy when lightly pressed. You can also use a toothpick or wooden skewer, poked into the middle of the cake: you should have nothing come out sticking to this if your carrot cake tray bake is done.
How long does this carrot cake tray bake last and how do I store it?
This cake should be stored in an airtight container and is best kept in the fridge due to the cream cheese in the icing. Stored in the fridge, this cake will keep for 3-4 days.
Can you freeze tray bake cakes?
Absolutely! This cake will freeze well, undecorated, for up to three months.
How to freeze your cake
I would recommend freezing this cake before decorating it. This helps avoid your icing being squashed and damaged when frozen. To freeze your cake, make sure it is completely cool first. Wrap each the whole cake tightly in cling film and place in a sturdy airtight container before freezing. Using a container will help protect the cake from breaking in the freezer.
How to thaw your tray bake cake
This cake thaws quite quickly. Depending on the temperature of your room, it can normally be completely thawed in just a few hours. When thawing your cake, simply remove it from the container and cling film and place the whole cake on a cooling rack, brushing off any ice crystals as you do. Then cover with a clean tea towel until you are ready to decorate and enjoy.
Can I make this cake gluten free and dairy free?
Yes! You can substitute your plain/all purpose flour for a gluten free flour, but do add an additional ¼ tsp Xanthan gum if you can tolerate it. For dairy free options similarly use a plant based butter, buttermilk and cream cheese.
Additional tips for making this carrot cake tray bake recipe
- Make sure you’ve prepared your tools and ingredients before you start mixing: line your tray bake tin with baking paper, preheat your oven and get your ingredients out ready to use. It’s easy to forget something once you get started!
- Take time to read through the recipe so you are familiar with what steps come next. Don’t skip details and instructions given as it could affect the results of your final bake.
- Use a good quality, full fat cream cheese in your icing. Having tried many different brands and alternatives, I always come back to Philadelphia as being reliable and good to work with (and it tastes good too!)
- Remember to beat your butter plenty enough when making your icing. Doing this helps your butter and sugar blend together well with your cream cheese and not have your icing split.
- Ensure your cake is completely cool before decorating with your cream cheese icing, otherwise you could end up with a melted liquid mess for icing and a soggy carrot cake. No one wants that!
If you have any other questions about this recipe, please use the comments below to ask away and I’ll do my best to help! And if you made and enjoyed this, I’d love to hear from you too!
And don’t forget: if you make this recipe for carrot cake tray bake, please do consider leaving a rating and review below, I would love to know how you enjoy making it and it really helps others looking for a recipe too! You could even post a picture on Instagram and tag me when you share it with the world, I’d love to see your creation! 😊
More tray bake recipes for you to enjoy
Don’t forget too to check out these other yummy recipes on my blog:
Cherry bakewell flapjacks: chewy, almondy and definitely comfort food, these little wonders are so tasty and super easy to make too!
Raspberry white chocolate blondies: these blondies are chewy and utterly delicious, with the stunning flavours of sweet white chocolate and tart fresh raspberries perfectly complementing each other. If you’re looking for a bake guaranteed to be adored by everyone who tries it, look no further: this is the one!
Oreo brownies: these brownies are rich and gooey and squidgy and gloriously dark. Perfect for the Oreo lover in your life!
And there you have it! My carrot cake tray bake is all yours to be enjoyed!
Happy baking my friends! x
Recommended equipment and ingredients I used *
|Tray bake tin||Digital kitchen scales|
|Large mixing bowl/Mixing bowl||Sieve|
|Spatula||Handheld electric mixer|