Cardamom, cinnamon and ginger spiced carrot cake, topped with decadent brown butter cream cheese frosting. This carrot cake sheet cake is the easiest, most delicious cake that you can make in about an hour! It’s insanely good.
Cardamom Spiced Carrot Sheet Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
I love to bake all kinds of cakes but making a layer cake can be stressful. Making sure the layers come out evenly, praying for an easy release from the pan, filling, stacking and frosting, it’s a lot. When you need a beautiful, homemade delicious cake, sheet cakes are the absolute best! You can keep it in the pan for easy transporting or flip it out onto a cake board or platter. Slather frosting all over the top and you’ve nailed it.
Carrot cake is definitely at the top of the list of my favorite cakes. This cardamom spiced carrot cake is just next level. I topped it off with some brown butter cream cheese frosting because when is brown butter ever not a great idea? Let’s get into it.
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What is cardamom spice and what does it taste like?
Cardamom has been used for centuries to spice up all kinds of things – pastries, rice, coffee. Cardamom powder is made from the seed pods of the cardamom plant, a close relative to ginger and turmeric, that is native to South India. As for the taste, it really depends on if it’s black or green cardamom. Green cardamom is what’s most commonly found in grocery stores and that’s what we’ll use for this recipe. It has a wonderfully zesty citrus flavor that’s a bit sweet and spicy. It plays so nicely with cinnamon and ginger and it gives this carrot cake a really fun twist!
What do I need to make this carrot sheet cake?
There are a lot of strong opinions on how to make carrot cake. Should you add pineapple or coconut? Nuts or no nuts? Raisins? Hard pass. I’m of the no pineapple or coconut and maybe a sprinkling of nuts school of thought. If you want an easy carrot cake recipe that’s jazzed up a bit with a bit of cardamom spice. Look no further.
This is a really basic carrot cake recipe with everyday pantry ingredients. The shredded carrots and a bit of buttermilk make it incredibly moist. Carrot cake is traditionally spiced with just cinnamon, but for this recipe I added cardamom and ginger for a fun twist. One of the best things about it is that you can easily swap out or add ingredients to make it just the way you like it.
Carrots – you will need three whole cups of shredded carrots. That’s about 3-4 large, loose carrots. You can do this easily with a box grater or using the shredder wheel on your food processor. What you absolutely don’t want is pre-shredded, bagged carrots. They’re just cut too thick for this recipe.
Sugar – for this recipe, I use both granulated and brown sugar. You can use only granulated if you like. I like the extra depth of flavor from using both.
Eggs – four of them!
Oil – carrot cake is typically made with oil, not butter. That’s what makes it so moist! I use avocado oil nearly all recipes that call for neutral oil. You could also use coconut oil if you don’t mind the subtle coconut flavor. Vegetable or canola oil are great substitutes.
Buttermilk – Combining buttermilk and oil just gives it a wonderfully rich, dense, moist texture, exactly how carrot cake should be.
Vanilla – use the good stuff!
All purpose flour – no need to sift!
Baking soda and baking powder – a little bit of both.
Cardamom, Cinnamon, Ginger – This spice blend really makes it delicious.
Salt – all baked goods need a bit of salt to balance the sweetness!
How to make a sheet cake
Making cake batter is very easy. It’s always the layer baking, flipping, transferring, filling and frosting is where cake making gets hairy. Sheet cakes are nearly fool proof which is why I love them so much.
Start by preparing your cake pan. Grease it on all sides with oil and line it lengthwise with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on the sides. This ensures that your cake under no circumstances will not stick to the pan. There’s nothing more infuriating than watching your hard work break into a mess. Of course, with a sheet pan cake, you can serve it right out of the pan but if you want to transfer to a board or platter, this will make your life so much easier.
I used a bakery half sheet cake pan which is 15×10. If you don’t have that size pan, just fill a 13×9 with about 12 cups of the batter and use the rest to make a few side cupcakes or small round for sampling. My mom and grandma always used to make “sample” cakes on the side so we wouldn’t have to wait in agony for it to be served at a party. Genius.
Like most basic cake recipes, we’ll start by whisking together the dry ingredients in one bowl. Flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices.
In the bowl of your stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the sugars and oil until thoroughly combined. Add in the eggs one at a time, making sure to fully incorporate after each egg. Add in the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until everything is incorporated.
Add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, making sure everything is incorporated. Don’t over mix! Use a spatula to fold in the shredded carrots and that’s it. Super simple!
Pour your cake batter into a prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean or with a few moist crumbs. Make sure your cake is completely cooled before you frost it, otherwise the frosting will melt and turn into a big mess. It’s worth the wait!
What kind of frosting goes on carrot cake?
The answer is CREAM CHEESE frosting. For this recipe, we’re taking cream cheese frosting up a notch and making it with brown butter. Why? Because being extra is fun!
You don’t need any additional ingredients to make brown butter cream cheese frosting. All you have to do is brown your butter. You can definitely skip this step and just go with regular cream cheese frosting, which is amazing, but I highly suggest going for it.
Browning butter is really simple and it adds amazing flavor to nearly everything. Especially baked goods. Add the butter to a light colored heavy bottom pot and turn the heat on medium high. Once the butter is melted it will start to foam up and the milk solids will fall to the bottom. When this happens, start whisking. It will take about five minutes or so but the milk solids will start to toast and the butter will turn brown and smell nutty. Make sure you keep whisking so that you can see what’s going on in the pot as this can go from brown to burnt real fast. Once it’s a deep caramel color, remove it from the heat and transfer to a heat safe bowl to cool.
I usually do this step first before I make the cake batter so that the butter has time to cool down and re-solidify before I’m ready to make the frosting.
To make the frosting, cream the brown butter with the whisk attachment of your stand mixer or with a hand mixer until it’s smooth. Add in the softened cream cheese and beat until well incorporated. Add in vanilla, a pinch of salt. Add in the powdered sugar little by little so it doesn’t fly all over the kitchen, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat on high until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Done!
Slather that frosting all over your cooled cake and you’re ready to serve.
How to store carrot cake
Serve – Once the cake is frosted, it can be at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Unfrosted, it can be at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap for up to three days.
Store – Cover cake pan tightly with plastic wrap, or put the cake in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.
Freeze – You can freeze your frosted or unfrosted cake for up to three months, wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Thaw it out in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
Is carrot cake healthy?
Nope. I’m sure there are many “healthy carrot cake” recipes out there but this ain’t it! I love healthy food and I love decadent eats. It’s all about balance.
For more decadent sweet treats try these!
Cardamom Spiced Carrot Sheet Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
For Cardamom Spiced Carrot Cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¾ cup avocado coconut or other neutral oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla
- ¼ cup buttermilk room temperature
- 3 cups shredded carrots
For Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup butter
- 8 oz softened cream cheese
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
To make the Cardamom Spiced Carrot Cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15x10 half sheet cake pan and line with parchment paper (*see note about pan size)
- In a medium size bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat together oil and sugars until thoroughly combined. Add in eggs one at a time. Add in buttermilk and vanilla and mix until everything is well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Add in the dry ingredients and mix until everything is just combined. Do not over mix.
- Using a rubber spatula, stir the shredded carrots into the batter.
- Pour cake batter into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool completely before frosting or removing from the pan.
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a light colored, heavy bottom saucepan or pot, melt butter over medium high heat. Once the butter is melted it will start to foam. Whisk continually while cooking the butter for about five minutes or until it smells nutty and has a deep caramel color. Be careful not to burn. Remove from heat immediately and transfer to heat safe dish. Let the brown butter cool completely and re-solidify before making the frosting.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat browned butter until smooth. Add in softened cream cheese and beat on high until well incorporated. Add in vanilla and salt. Add powdered sugar a little bit at a time and beat on high until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Frost cooled cake and serve!
- If you do not have a 15x10 half sheet cake pan, add 12 cups of batter to a 13x9 and use the rest of the batter to make a few cupcakes or a small round on the side for sampling!
- You can omit the cardamom in this recipe and replace with an additional teaspoon of cinnamon for a traditional carrot cake recipe.
- You can skip the browned butter and make regular cream cheese frosting by following the same steps with softened butter instead.