Paul Hollywood’s ultimate carrot cake

  • Serves 8
  • Takes 20 minutes to make, 1 hour to cook
  • Easy
Paul Hollywood's simple carrot cake recipe is made with pecan nuts, cinnamon, ginger and topped with a cream cheese frosting.

Nutritional info per serving

  • Calories688kcals
  • Fat42.9g (13.8g saturated)
  • Protein7.7g
  • Carbohydrates69.1g (49.6g sugars)
  • Fibre3g
  • Salt0.8g
Rate this recipe
[Total: 74 Average: 3.2]
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  • 155ml sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 230g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 230g light brown muscovado sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 satsuma or mandarin, plus strips to decorate
  • 100g pecans, halved
  • 260g carrots, coarsely grated
  • 3 medium free-range eggs, beaten

For the icing

  • 50g butter, softened
  • 200g full-fat cream cheese, we recommend Philadelphia
  • 100g icing sugar, plus extra to dust
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange

For the orange peel

  • 2 oranges
  • 200ml water
  • 200g caster sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Grease an 18cm loose-bottomed round cake tin and line the base with baking paper. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a large bowl. Add the sugar, zest, pecans and grated carrots, then stir until well combined. Stir in the beaten eggs and oil, then mix well.
  2. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack, leave in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out and leave to cool completely before icing.
  3. For the icing, beat the butter in a large bowl with a hand mixer until really soft. Add the cream cheese and beat again until well mixed. Sift over the icing sugar, add the orange zest, then beat until smooth. Store, covered, in the fridge until needed.
  4. For the orange peel, carefully pare the zest from the orange (a tool like this would be helpful). Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the orange zest and remove from the heat. Let the zest sit in the sugar syrup until it has completely cooled.
  5. Carefully cut the cake in half (watch our cheat’s how-to video here) then spread half the icing between the cake layers and the other half on top. Decorate with the orange zest strips.

From March 2012

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  • "
    lee dunn20:16 Jul 15 2018

    Made it for the first time today, cake is beautiful. However it was quite dense and heavy. The only thing I can think I did wrong was not sieve the flower as I don’t have one. Would that be the cause of the sponge not being light?

    • user avatar"
      delicious. magazine11:57 Jul 17 2018

      Hi Lee – Glad to hear that your creation tasted beautiful! Carrot cakes tend to be a little heavier than normal sponge cakes owing to the moisture in the carrot. This is probably why the sponge was not as light as you might expect in this recipe. Sieving the flour wouldn’t make too much of a difference to the final texture. I hope this helps!. Ellie

  • "
    kirsty mckelvie10:25 May 25 2017

    I wouldn’t use this method of cheats way to cut a cake as this cake has nuts in it and the thread simply won’t go through. Lovely cake though and great icing.

  • "
    kirsty mckelvie14:47 May 24 2017

    I wouldn’t recommend the cheats way to cut a cake for this recipe as it has nuts in it and the thread simply doesn’t cut through but it’s a lovely cake and easy to do.

  • "
    alison gardner16:52 Aug 11 2016

    When the recipe refers to beaten eggs? Can you be more precise please. Do you mean literally stirred together so the yolk is incorporated with the white or do you mean beaten together with a whisk and if so for how long …. are you expecting the egg mixture to increase in volume before being added? Thanks

    • user avatar"
      delicious. magazine10:14 Aug 12 2016

      Hi Alison,

      The eggs just need to be mixed together to break the yolks up.

      Hope this helps.

      The delicious. team

  • "
    annio'brien14:17 Feb 28 2016

    I tried this and although the cake was amazing, the topping was far from it.
    I replaced full fat cream cheese with low fat and the butter was softened and beaten beforehand in my mixer, the two didn’t mix and despite 10 mins in my new Tefal kitchen mixer, I ended up with tiny lumps of butter when it was smooth before the soft cheese went in. I added the sieved icing sugar and 2 tsp of clementine juice, the result was more of a drizzle topping than the proper carrot cake mixture as in the photo of Pauls cake.
    Any ideas? Was it low fat cheese that did it? The butter wasn’t the cheapest, but neither was it Anchor. It was Tesco own brand.

    • user avatar"
      delicious. magazine17:32 Mar 02 2016

      Hi Anni,
      Thanks for your comment. You’re right – low fat cream cheese doesn’t like being beaten as the fat content isn’t high enough to cope. You need to use full-fat cream cheese in the icing (as stated in the recipe). Also, be aware that own-brand butters often have a higher water content – we like to use French butter (such as President) for baking.
      I hope that helps.

  • "
    vic sinfield16:05 Feb 11 2016

    Have just taken up baking and wanted an easy carrot cake recipe, many I found were very involved, but Pauls looked so simple so gave it a go yesterday. Made the cake exactly as per the recipe, didn’t bother with the cream icing as I didn’t have room to keep the cake in the fridge. Not that that would have been a problem, as it turned out fantastic and two thirds of have gone already. If your looking for a great easy to make cake, I think you will love this!

  • "
    mariella coleman7:56 Dec 06 2015

    I bake only on rainy days to keep my spirit up while trying to consider health when indulging on superfluous food. My husband loves cakes so I thought to spoil him. I respect Paul so I decided to try his ultimate cake. The only nuts I had were Brazil nut, almonds and cashew. Brazil it was! I did not have mandarin either so i replaced it with Grand Marnier and glazed mix peels. I reduced the sugar because I don’t like too sweet and left out the white topping for calories reduction. It came out perfect! and healthier I would say. Now I could even have a small slice.

  • "
    mari craig15:30 Oct 22 2015

    Made two portions of this (using walnuts instead of pecans and orange zest rather than satsuma, as that was what I had on hand) and it turned out amazing!! This will be my go-to recipe from now on. The only thing is, I added 1/4 tsp salt to the dry ingredients, since I can’t do without it! 🙂 Otherwise, perfect.

  • "
    alisonholt21:14 Jul 14 2015

    I love this recipe because it works perfectly every time I make it and it reminds me of when my daughters were teenagers and brought all their friends home for tea and cake 🙂

  • "
    lydia wharton0:58 Jun 12 2015

    Amazing, everyone that tried it said it was the best they had and are asking me to make another already

  • "
    joannesmith17:10 Jun 02 2015

    I love this recipe because it looks easier than a lot of carrot cake recipes!

  • "
    andreadalziel21:21 May 31 2015

    I love this recipe because it’s incredibly easy to make but also reminds us of one of our favourite stories – Matilda! It’s just like I imagined it would be when reading about Bruce having to eat it all. (Although I’m not quite as grubby as cook in the story!)

  • "
    kate scullin13:00 May 31 2015

    I made this carrot cake last week omitting the nuts due to my daughters allergy. I replaced them with sultanas and my husband said it was the best cake I had ever made.

  • "
    alice murray7:35 May 04 2015

    I don’t know why this only receives 3 stars, it’s a really easy recipe for a lovely, moist carrot cake. I used rapeseed oil as I didn’t have anything else and it worked brilliantly. I used a touch more ginger but that’s just for my taste. My toddler enjoyed making and eating it too!

  • "
    elizabethmoody11:58 Jan 31 2015

    I am making this for the second time so must be good!easy to make & very light sponge with a great topping.I used sultanas instead of nuts as i had none in the house,also omitted the ginger & mixed spices as i had none.

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