This eggless carrot cake is layered with thick cream cheese frosting to make the best carrot cake recipe without eggs!
Carrot cake without eggs
With the success of the eggless chocolate cake, eggless banana bread, and healthier pumpkin bread (also without eggs), it seemed reasonable to imagine that making a carrot cake without eggs would be possible.
In this cake recipe, I would have probably used 3 large eggs, which is roughly 150 grams of eggs. To replace them, I used the following baking substitution: 190 mL of full-fat sour cream. The sour cream provides both moisture and fat, like an egg would have. It may not have the same emulsifying properties as the egg, but this worked well in this recipe.
Leavening agents in cakes
Using an acidic ingredient like sour cream in a cake batter means that you need to use two chemical leaveners, baking powder and baking soda. The baking soda is there to help neutralize some of that acidity so that the baking powder can do its job of helping cakes rise when the cake is in the oven, and not prematurely.
Two bowl method for mixing
Cake recipes that are made with softened butter are mixed using the creaming method, where the sugar and butter are mixed together for a long time. This incorporates air into the batter, leading to softer, fluffier cakes that are less dense.
For this cake, I decided to use canola oil instead of butter because I wanted to have a cake that was tender, even if it has to be refrigerated. Remember oil is liquid at room temperature and still fluid even in the refrigerator, whereas butter is solid. This leads to a more tender mouthfeel, even when the cake is cold.
Using oil means you can use a different mixing method to make the batter: the two bowl method, just like for muffins. Much to my surprise, the layers of cake baked flat, without having to use cake strips. You could level the tops if you want very flat, perfectly even layers to stack, but as you can see from the photos, without trimming the tops, I still had a fairly flat finish.
Making thick cream cheese frosting with less icing sugar
The best frosting for carrot cake is cream cheese frosting. It's what people expect and sometimes the frosting is the main reason people eat carrot cake or order it in restaurants.
The secret to making a thick cream cheese frosting with less icing sugar is to first cream the butter with the icing sugar before adding the cream cheese. This way the icing sugar is coated with fat, thereby delaying or preventing it from drawing the water out of the cream cheese.
This mixing method leads to a more stable cream cheese frosting that you can make with a lot less icing sugar than most! I've used it for other layer cakes, like this chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and this cranberry cardamom cake.
Here are some of my favourite tools and baking pans to make layer cake recipes like this one:
- Kitchen-Aid Artisan mixer (Amazon)
- Oxo whisk (Amazon)
- Wilton 6 inch cake pans (Amazon)
- Cooling rack (Amazon)
- Ateco mini offset spatula (Amazon)
- Cake tester (Amazon)
- Ateco turntable (Amazon)
Frequently asked questions
This carrot cake recipe is made without raisins, nuts, coconut, or pineapple. If you want a carrot cake with raisins, you can add them to the cake batter at the same time as the shredded carrot. Add 125 mL–250 mL (½ cup–1 cup) of raisins and/or nuts to this recipe. I don't recommend adding canned pineapple because it's quite wet and would throw off the ratios in the recipe.
In general, if you are going to be eating layer cakes within a day, you can store them at room temperature, assuming your room isn't too hot and it's not summer. To be safe, it's best to store this eggless carrot cake in the refrigerator, preferably covered, especially because this is a "naked" cake, meaning the sides aren't fully frosted. They may dry out faster.
If you store your carrot cake in the fridge, make sure to let it warm up at room temperature a little before eating it. Otherwise, the frosting will be quite firm because of the butter, which hardens at colder temperature. In general, fridge-cold cakes are firmer and you should give them time at room temperature to soften before eating.
Eggless carrot cake
Eggless carrot cake
- 220 grams (1¾ cups) bleached all-purpose flour
- 10 mL (2 teaspoon) baking powder
- 2.5 mL (½ teaspoon) ground cinnamon
- 2.5 mL (½ teaspoon) ground ginger
- 2.5 mL (½ teaspoon) ground nutmeg
- 2.5 mL (½ teaspoon) baking soda
- 1.25 mL (¼ teaspoon) Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt
- 125 mL (½ cup) canola oil
- 250 grams (1¼ cups) light brown sugar
- 188 mL (¾ cup) sour cream (14% fat)
- 15 mL (1 tablespoon) orange zest
- 5 mL (1 teaspoon) pure vanilla extract
- 375 mL (1½ cups) finely grated carrots
Cream cheese frosting
- 95 grams (¾ cup) icing sugar
- 115 grams (½ cup) unsalted butter room temperature
- 250 grams (10 oz) Philadelphia cream cheese (full fat, regular) cold
- 5 mL (1 teaspoon) vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 15 mL orange zest optional
To make the eggless carrot cake layers
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter, flour, and line with parchment three 6-inch cake pans (Wilton on Amazon)
- Sift together (or whisk) the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the canola oil, brown sugar, sour cream, orange zest, and vanilla until very well blended.
- Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the wet ingredients and fold everything together until the flour has almost completely disappeared.
- Fold in the carrots.
- Divide the mixture between the three pans, banging the pans to release any air pockets. Smooth the surfaces of the cakes with an offset spatula and bake them until they are done: a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cakes will come out clean, and the edges will have pulled away from the sides of the pan. This takes 25 to 30 minutes.
- Let the cakes cool 10 minutes before unmoulding to cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the cream cheese frosting
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the icing sugar and the butter until it is creamy and light.
- Add the cream cheese, the vanilla bean paste, and the orange zest (if using) and beat the frosting until it is smooth.
- Peel off the parchment from the cake layers and place the first layer on a cake stand. Top with a couple spoonfuls of frosting (~150 grams) and smooth it out. Stack on the second cake layer and another 150 grams of frosting, then top with the final layer. Use a bench scraper or an offset spatula to smooth the sides if desired.
- Chill for 30 minutes to set the frosting before serving.
- If you aren't sure how to check if your cakes are done baking, you can use a cake tester or even a digital thermometer to double check that the internal temperature is around 100 ºC (212 ºF).