When I shared my Valentine’s recipe for Fudgy Dark Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches with Raspberry Buttercream for Two, a friend asked (no, challenged was the word she used ;) ) me to come up with a healthy, yet indulgent carrot cake recipe that serves one or two.
My mom’s birthday was a couple weeks ago. I usually like some variant of chocolate cake for my birthday, but carrot cake just happens to be my mom’s favorite. The thing is, other than me, no one else in the family likes carrot cake. I saw no reason to make a regular-sized cake, but of course we needed some kind of cake (it’s a birthday requisite!) and my friend’s challenge came to mind.
This cute little cake is everything carrot cake should be; it’s moist with a tender crumb, sweetly aromatic, and lightly spiced. I added walnuts and raisins because my mom loves them, but if that’s not your thing, feel free to swap them out for what you like or just omit them.
I went with a maple buttercream here instead of a more traditional cream cheese frosting for the sole reason that I forgot to add cream cheese to my grocery list (oops!). It wasn’t a loss though; this frosting is also a really nice pairing with carrot cake.
What kind of cake do you like for your birthday?
- ½ cup (65 g) all-purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins, chopped
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons light olive oil
- ⅓ cup (67 g) sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup shredded carrot (about 1 medium carrot)
- 4 tablespoons (50 g) salted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 cup (115 g) powdered sugar
- 2 to 4 teaspoons milk (more or less to achieve desired consistency)
- For the cake, preheat the oven to 350F; butter and flour a 4-inch round springform pan.
- Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt in a medium bowl; stir in the walnuts and raisins.
- Whisk together the egg, oil, sugar, vanilla, and carrot in another medium bowl.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry all at once and stir until combined, being careful not to over-mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes; cool completely.
- For the buttercream, use a handheld electric beater to mix together the butter and maple syrup. Once combined, slowly beat in the powdered sugar and then gradually add enough milk so that it reaches your desired consistency.
- Once the cake is cool, slice off the dome on top so you have an even surface (you won't need the top dome, so go ahead and eat it). Slice horizontally through the cake 2 more times so you end up with 3 equal slices. Place what was the top of the cake upside-down onto a plate and spread frosting on top; place the center cake round on top of the first slice and frost; finally, place the last cake round on top (I save what was the bottom of the cake for the top because it’s usually the flattest piece). Spread the remaining frosting on the sides and top of the cake.
- Store any leftovers wrapped in the fridge for up to 5 days; let the cake come to room temperature before serving to soften the buttercream.
If you’re looking for more birthday inspiration that’s a little different than your average cake, check out a few of my other cake recipes…
would you just double everything if you wanted to make a regular sized cake?
Cynthia, If you want to make one 9 by 13-inch rectangular or two 9 by 9-inch round cakes, I would quadruple the recipe and increase the baking time if necessary.
Love that this is two-person sized! I love carrot cake but probably don’t need a WHOLE CAKE sitting on my counter.
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
What an adorable cake and the maple buttercream sounds so good!
Gwen @simplyhealthyfamily says
Some of the best discoveries in the kitchen are from improvising when I don’t have an ingredient…. or two ;) I have to say, I don’t think I would share this cake so I’m calling it Emergency Solo Carrot Cake!
Ashley (QLCC) says
What an adorable little cake! I love that it’s just big enough for two :)
Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough says
I love this lil’ cake! I usually have a strawberry cake for my birthday but I’ve been thinking about switching it up. This recipe might be the frontrunner!
Jennifer Stewart says
I am so in love with this. Smaller portions are my thing! Can’t wait to make this!
Jenny D says
I love the idea of maple frosting and on carrot cake, just sounds sublime :)
Marissa | Pinch and Swirl says
Just stunning! I love the maple in the frosting AND that you made it just enough for two.
I absolutely love this idea Faith :D …I cannot wait to give it a try! Thank you.
Stephanie Stuart says
Carrot cake is one of the things that got me through the hard times in the Army, I always looked forward to a slice in the mess hall. It’s such a treat and I look forward to your recipe!
Lori R. says
This is so great! I love dessert recipes in smaller portions. It’s so helpful! I have a huge sweet tooth, but I just don’t like having so many dessert leftovers since there are only two of us. I can’t wait to try this!
June Burns says
Such an adorable cake! I love it. The maple buttercream sounds delicious too :)