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High-Altitude Carrot Cake Recipe

Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home." She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated."

This carrot cake recipe is altitude-tested and delicious!

This carrot cake recipe is altitude-tested and delicious!

High-Altitude Baking

If you live at high altitude, you have most likely struggled with baking. Cakes often turn out dry or, even worse, rise and collapse or sink in the middle. Since carrot cakes are moist, they are a perfect choice for high-altitude baking.

This cake recipe has been tested at 9,000 feet. If you are baking at a lower altitude, try adding 1/8 teaspoonful of leavening per 1,000 feet.

This cake is easy to make and sure to please your family and friends. It will make a large sheet cake, 2 two-layer cakes, or 24 cupcakes—perfect for a crowd. And don't forget that carrot cake freezes well! We have also included a recipe for easy cream cheese frosting that's an ideal complement to this carrot cake. Enjoy!


  • Measure carrots by loosely (not tightly) packing them in the measuring cup.
  • Squeeze extra moisture from pineapple and grated carrots.
  • Grate carrots on a fine grate for a cake with a tender crumb. Use a larger grate for more texture.
  • You can use either canned or fresh pineapple. If using fresh pineapple, chop finely and squeeze out extra moisture.
  • If you enjoy nuts, try toasting them for texture and sprinkling them over the top of the frosting. This adds visual appeal and allows those who don't enjoy nuts to scrape them off the top.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

1 hour

1 hour 20 min

1 large sheet cake or 24 cupcakes

Use fresh pineapple and carrots for best flavor.

Use fresh pineapple and carrots for best flavor.


  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour milk, (1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white or raw sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated carrot
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, squeezed dry
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda*
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder*

* If baking at sea level, increase to 1 1/2 teaspoonfuls each of baking powder and baking soda.

Ready for baking

Ready for baking

Ingredients By Weight:

  • 4 eggs
  • 240 grams milk
  • 168 grams oil
  • 319 grams sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 384 grams all-purpose flour
  • 150 grams grated carrot
  • 225 grams crushed pineapple, squeezed dry
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch cake pan or line a cupcake tin with paper liners. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine sour milk, oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar. Beat well.
  3. In another medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Combine.
  4. Mix dry and wet ingredients together. Fold in pineapple and grated carrot.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour. Begin checking the cake for doneness at 50 minutes. When a toothpick tests clean, the cake can be removed from the oven.
  6. Cool completely before frosting.
Add 1 cup of rum-soaked raisins for extra flavor.

Add 1 cup of rum-soaked raisins for extra flavor.

Try Any of These Add-ins With the Grated Carrots and Pineapple:


1 cup



1 cup



1 cup

pecans or walnuts


Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 2 sticks (200 grams) salted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extracts
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 3 cups powdered (confectioners') sugar


  1. In a medium bowl, whip cream cheese, and butter until creamy. Use either a hand mixer or a stand mixer.
  2. Add vanilla and milk. Whip until smooth.
  3. Gradually whip in powdered sugar until the frosting is stiff enough to spread.
Carrot Cake With Nuts

Carrot Cake With Nuts

Why Carrot Cakes Should Be Oil-Based:

Although carrot cake can be butter-based, the traditional version is oil-based. This is because the cakes are traditionally frosted with a cream cheese icing that should be refrigerated. Oil-based cakes don't harden when stored in the refrigerator, which means they don't have to be returned to room temperature before eating.

Carrot Cupcakes

Carrot Cupcakes

High-Altitude Carrot Cake

Questions & Answers

Question: How long are the cupcakes baked for?

Answer: You need to bake cupcakes 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center tests clean.

© 2014 Vespa Woolf