A classic cake turned into a tray bake for easy slicing, this Easy Carrot Cake Traybake with Banana is moist, rich and simple to make. The perfect bake for parties and afternoon tea. You can also slice it up with ease and sell it at bake sales too!
Carrot cake is an age-old recipe that the whole family can enjoy. With its dense, moist crumb, creamy frosted topping and a whole array of flavour within, you can be guaranteed that there will be none wasted.
We have added bananas for an extra hint of flavour as well as removing the need for eggs in this recipe, making the tray bake itself completely vegan. Which makes this eggless carrot cake tray bake a great choice if you have vegan friends or family members.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Full of Flavour – A spiced tray bake that’s packed with flavour, from the orange-soaked sultanas to the hint of bananas, it all pairs so well.
- You Can Make it Vegan – Nothing needs to change for the tray bake itself to be vegan, all you need to do is swap out the cream cheese for a vegan version for the topping and you’re good to go!
- It Freezes Well – Both the cake and cream cheese icing can be frozen, so you can make this ahead and store in the freezer until you need it.
- 20x25cm (8×10 inch) Rectangular Baking Tin – To Bake the Carrot Tray Bake.
- Baking Paper – To line the tin. A lined tin is important as it helps to remove the cake from the baking tray once it has cooked and prevents it from sticking to the side.
- Small Saucepan – To heat the sultanas and Orange Juice.
- Sieve – To sift the flours and some other ingredients, giving the cake an airy lift.
- Grater – To grate the carrots, use a fine grater for this.
- Large Bowl and Wooden Spoon or Rubber Spatula/Palette Knife or A Stand Mixer with the Paddle Attachment – To mix and spread all of the ingredients and form the cake batter.
- Wire Rack – Used for cooling the cake and preventing it from turning soggy on the bottom.
- Sultanas – We soak these in orange juice over a low heat in the first step of our recipe. These little dried fruits add flavour and texture to the cake.
- Juice of an Orange – Freshly squeezed orange juice enhances the flavour of the sultanas and rehydrates them a little, making for juicy sultanas that are full of flavour.
- White Plain Flour and Wholemeal All-purpose Flour – We mix these two together to form the base of the cake batter. Do not substitute for self-raising flour as we add our leavening agents separately. You can however, use all plain white flour and no wholemeal if you prefer.
- Baking Powder and Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda – These are used as our leavening (rising) agents, giving the tray bake a little lift when baked.
- Salt – Used to enhance the flavours of our cake. You can omit this if you’d prefer.
- Mixed Spice and Ground Cinnamon – These spices give the tray bake an aromatic aroma and spiced taste.
- Soft Light Brown Sugar – Try and stick to using this particular sugar in this recipe, it adds colour, flavour and sweetness to the cake. Using different types of sugar in its place may alter the flavour and texture of your cake.
- Sunflower Oil – This is used in place of butter in this cake. If needed, you can substitute it for vegetable oil.
- Bananas – We use the bananas to replace the eggs as a binding agent and to give a little extra flavour.
- Grated Carrots – Giving our Carrot cake tray bake its name. The fresh carrots are peeled and finely grated to add texture, moistness and a subtle sweet flavour.
- Chopped Walnuts – These add some crunchy texture to the cake. However, you can leave these out if required.
- Full-Fat Cream Cheese – We use this as a base for our frosting. We don’t recommend substituting cream cheese but you can find vegan alternatives if required that work well too. Just make sure the cream cheese is plain and not flavoured.
- Vanilla Extract – This gives our frosting a little extra flavour.
- Icing Sugar / Confectioners Sugar – We use this to make our frosting, do not substitute with another sugar as you won’t achieve the required texture and consistency in the frosting.
- Pistachios and Freeze Dried Strawberries – These are optional decorations on our cake that add a little pinch of flavour, colour and texture to the topping.
Why we use Carrots in a Cake
Carrot cake takes its name due to the presence of shredded carrot in the cake batter. However, if you were concerned at all that it actually tasted like carrots, don’t be. Carrots in carrot cake are used as a moistener, flavour enhancer, to create some texture and as an added bonus, provide little specks of orange colour throughout the tray bake when it is sliced.
While carrots do provide some of the flavour in this cake, you won’t specifically be able to point it out as carrot flavour, rather, it gives the cake a sort of earthy sweetness. Combine this sweetness with mixed spice, fresh orange, fruity sultanas and dark brown sugar and you end up with a flavour that is quite unique to a carrot cake. All the flavours blend together to produce a moist, dense cake that has a slightly crumbly texture without falling apart on the plate.
Step-By-Step How To Make Carrot Cake Traybake
Step 1: Preheat the oven
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.
Step 2: Prepare the sultanas
- Place the sultanas into a pan and squeeze the orange juice in.
- Place the pan on a low heat and allow the sultanas and juice to cook for 2 minutes. Once the time is up, set them aside and leave to cool.
Step 3: Mix the dry ingredients
- Using a sieve, mix the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, and the spices into a large bowl or stand mixer.
- Mix the light brown sugar into the flour mixture.
Step 4: Prepare the banana mixture
- In a separate bowl, mash the bananas well and mix them with the sunflower oil.
Step 5: Combine the wet and dry ingredients
- Pour the banana/oil mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to form the cake batter.
Step 6: Add the carrots, walnuts, and sultanas
- Peel and finely grate the carrots, ensuring that you weigh them once grated to confirm that they are the correct weight.
- Crush the walnuts into small chunks.
- Fold the carrots and walnuts into the cake batter along with the sultanas and excess orange juice that has not been absorbed by the sultanas.
Step 7: Prepare the baking tin
- Line and grease a 20x25cm (10×8 inch) rectangle baking tin.
Step 8: Bake the cake
- Pour the carrot cake batter into the prepared tin and use a spatula to spread it evenly.
- Place the tin into the hot oven and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes. Depending on your oven, the cake may need a little longer. To check if it is ready, pierce the centre of the cake with a knife. If the blade comes out clean, it is ready. If there is still wet batter stuck to the knife, bake a little longer and check regularly until it has baked.
Step 9: Cool the cake
- Remove the tray bake from the oven and lift it from the tin. Place the tray bake onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
Step 10: Prepare the cream cheese frosting
- Take the cream cheese from the fridge and place it in a large bowl or stand mixer with the whisk attached.
- Add the vanilla extract and, using a sieve, add the icing sugar. Begin to whisk together. Start slowly to prevent the icing sugar rising up and causing a cloud that covers everything nearby. You can increase the speed once it has been incorporated.
- If you find that the frosting is too runny, add a little more icing sugar until your desired consistency is achieved.
- Store the frosting in the fridge until it’s ready to use.
Step 11: Decorate the cake
- When ready, spread the frosting over the top of the tray bake.
- Sprinkle over the crushed pistachios and freeze-dried strawberries. You can, however, use different decorations such as marzipan carrots or edible flower petals if you’d prefer.
My Carrot Traybake Hasn’t Risen
Being an oil based cake without butter, helps this tray bake stay moist for longer. The plus to this is that it will keep very well without going dry and stale.
Remember, however, that a carrot cake tray bake will have a different texture to your usual sponge tray bake, it’s meant to be denser.
Without the presence of eggs in this bake, the sponge will not seem as fluffy as your usual sponge cake batter, this is normal. The tray bake will still rise a certain amount.
If you find that you are having problems with your carrot tray bake rising at all during the baking process, it could be down to these things:
- How old is your baking powder and bicarbonate of soda? Both of these products diminish in their effectiveness when they’ve been opened a while, regardless of the expiry date. Only use these products within 6 months of opening and store them correctly in a cool, dark place in an airtight container. Do not put them in the fridge.
- Preheat your oven. Don’t put your tray bake into a cold oven, it may not cook evenly, it’ll take longer and won’t rise as well.
Oil replaces the butter in a carrot cake so butter is not needed. Oil is used instead to make the cake moist and more dense in consistency.
No you will not taste the carrots in a carrot cake, they instead give an earthy sweetness to the taste. Due to the other stronger tasting ingredients like mixed spice and cinnamon that is usually present, you will likely taste these flavours the most.
Carrot cake is a dense cake, due to the presence of oil in the cake batter. The oil makes the cake batter heavier and less likely to rise as well as a cake without it. It is used to give the cake a moister crumb.
Pro Tips and Guidance
- Grate the carrots as finely as possible – When it comes to grating your carrots, be sure to grate them as finely as possible using the fine side of the grater. The carrot in carrot cake softens as the cake bakes and due to the short cooking time of this carrot tray bake, you don’t want large chunks of carrot in your batter. Large pieces of carrot will remain uncooked and hard, ruining the texture in your cake.
- Only decorate once you’re ready to serve – Frost the carrot cake slices only when you are going to serve it, this makes the cake last longer at room temperature.
- Use the cream cheese straight from the fridge – Cream cheese frosting will liquify the warmer it gets. Once made, store it in the fridge or freezer until you wish to use it.
- You can freeze both the cake and the frosting – Just freeze them separately and decorate the slices when you are ready to serve them.
- Carrot Cake Cupcakes – Instead of a traybake version, you can make carrot cake cupcakes using this cake mix, they will just need less time baking in the oven. Once ready, decorate them individually with some cute little carrot decorations and serve up for a special occasion.
- Make this recipe vegan – The carrot cake itself is already vegan, so all you need to do is swap the cream cheese for a vegan substitute and this becomes a vegan carrot cake tray bake with ease.
My Cream Cheese Frosting is Runny
No carrot cake would be the same without a delicious topping of sweet cream cheese frosting spread evenly over the top of the cake.
However, sometimes you may find that the frosting begins to take on a runny consistency.
Runny frosting can be a result of a warm room, the cream cheese will soften at room temperature after a while. If you’re cream cheese frosting is too runny, place it in the fridge for around 30 minutes before using. If, after this time, it still remains too liquid, try gradually adding a little more icing sugar to the mixture.
If you overmix the frosting you may find that it becomes more runny as you go, try to only mix the frosting enough so that everything is well incorporated, this should help it keep the required consistency.
It’s also worth noting that some brands of cream cheese are more liquid in consistency than others. If your chosen brand of cream cheese appears too liquid, try draining it for an hour or so before using it.
- Storage Decorated: Once decorated with the cream cheese frosting, it’s important to store your traybake slices in the fridge in an airtight container. Don’t leave decorated slices out on the side for too long. Once decorated and stored in the fridge, the tray bake will last around 3 days.
- Storage Undecorate: The undecorated tray bake will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
- We would advise to only decorate the traybake, when you’re ready to serve it up. This is because the traybake will also keep for longer without the cream frosting on top. The frosting can be kept separately in the fridge for when you are ready to begin decorating and serving.
- Storing the Frosting: The frosting should be stored in the fridge and will keep for up to a week.
- Freezing: You can freeze your cream cheese frosting if you’d prefer. Place it in an airtight container in the freezer and it will last up to 2 months.
- You can also freeze it in individual portions, wrap each one well and store in an airtight container in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Check Out These Tray Bake Recipes
These delicious Ginger Crunch slices originate in New Zealand. They have a shortbread ginger-spiced base with a ginger flavoured iced topping. They are great for lunchboxes and picnics.
This Biscoff Tray bake is a great choice of no-bake tray bake that goes down well at parties, bake sales or sliced up and given as an edible gift.
Try making these simple Chocolate Topped Flapjacks, the perfect pick-me-up with a milk chocolate topping for that extra special treat.
Easy Carrot Cake Tray Bake with Banana (no egg)
- 85 g Sultanas
- 1 Orange, Juice Only
- 85 g Plain White Flour, All purpose flour
- 85 g Plain Wholemeal Flour, All purpose flour
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda, Baking Soda
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Mixed Spice
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 170 g Light Brown Soft Sugar
- 125 ml Sunflower Oil
- 2 Small Bananas
- 170 g Carrots, Grated
- 55 g Walnuts
For the Topping:
- 100 g Cream Cheese
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 230 g Icing Sugar, Confectioners Sugar
- 10 g Crushed Pistachios , optional
- 5 g Freeze-dried Strawberry pieces, optional
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.
- Place the sultanas and the juice from the orange into a saucepan and heat gently over a low heat for 2 minutes. Set aside and leave to cool.
- Sift together the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices in a bowl and mix in the light brown sugar.
- Mash the bananas well and mix with the oil.
- Add the oil and bananas to the dry ingredients and mix to form a cake batter.
- Crush the walnuts into small chunks.
- Finely grate the carrots, ensuring that the weight stated above is the final grated weight. Fold into the batter along with the crushed walnuts, sultanas and what is left of the orange juice in the pan.
- Line and grease a 20x25cm (8x10inch) rectangle baking tin.
- Pour the batter into the tin and using a spatula, spread the batter out evenly.
- Place into the hot oven on the middle shelf and bake for 30-40 minutes.
- Sometimes the tray bake may need a little longer to cook depending on your oven. To check that it is ready, pierce the centre of the cake with a knife and if it comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven. If it comes out with wet batter stuck to it, give it a little longer to bake and check regularly.
- Once baked, remove the traybake from the oven and lift it out of the tin. Place it on a cooling rack to cool completely.
- To make the cream cheese frosting, whisk together the cream cheese, along with the vanilla extract and icing sugar. Start slowly and increase the speed once everything is incorporated.
- Mix the ingredients together until the frosting becomes creamy and smooth. If the frosting is runny, add a little more icing sugar until you reach your desired consistency.
- Once the cake has cooled, spread the top of it with the frosting and decorate with crushed pistachios and freeze dried strawberry pieces.
- Grate the carrots as finely as possible.
- Leave the cream cheese icing off until you are ready to serve.
- If the frosting is too runny, leave it in the fridge for half an hour and then add more icing sugar if it’s still too runny after chilling.
- You can freeze both the cake and frosting separately.
- You can make this recipe vegan; simply swap out the cream cheese for a vegan alternative, everything else can stay the same.