Looking for a fun twist on carrot cake? You will love this delicious carrot cake roll filled with homemade cream cheese frosting!
Spring is finally here and we’re loving it! As the weather warms and Easter approaches, this carrot cake roll with cream cheese filling has become a much-requested dessert.
Flavorful carrot cake spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves rolled up around a filling made of whipped cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla…sign me up! For sure, carrot cake roll is fantastic for Easter dinner, but you’ll want to serve it for a picnic, birthday party, bridal or baby shower, a potluck dinner, or just to enjoy with a cup of tea in the afternoon.
What ingredients do I need?
To be ready to make your carrot cake roll, here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- All-purpose flour and sugar.
- Baking powder
- Ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
- 3 eggs, at room temperature – Leave the eggs on your counter for 30 minutes before you begin mixing up the cake so they reach room temperature. This helps them mix into the cake better.
- Vanilla extract
- Finely grated carrots – You’ll need 1 ¾ cup of finely grated carrot. It’s best to grate the carrots before you begin making the cake so they’re ready to add when needed.
- Powdered sugar. This doesn’t go in the cake, but rather gets dusted overtop the cake roll.
For the homemade cream cheese frosting, you’ll just need cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and salt.
How to Make Carrot Cake Roll
Making a homemade cake roll may look intimidating, but as a friend showed me over 20 years ago, it is actually very easy. The one challenge is rolling the cake, but I will walk you through that process below so you know exactly what to do!
Prep work. Start by preparing a 10×15-inch jelly roll pan (or a cookie sheet with raised edges) with parchment paper, allowing extra to hang over the sides of the pan. Spray the paper with non-stick cooking spray for extra protection against the cake sticking. Set this aside and move on to mixing up the cake.
Mix. In a medium mixing bowl, use a whisk to combine the dry ingredients. Next, beat the eggs at high speed for 5 minutes. They should end up thick and frothy with a deep yellow color. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat again for 1 minute. Now you can add the dry mixture and stir well. Add the finely grated carrots and mix gently by hand. Be careful to not overmix the cake batter at this point!
Bake. Pour the cake batter onto the prepared jelly roll pan and spread it gently edge to edge. Bake at 350F for about 10-12 minutes. Quick, right? Be sure a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. If it’s not ready by 12 minutes, just keep baking and checking every minute until the cake is done.
Roll. As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, turn it out onto a clean kitchen towel that has been very generously dusted with powdered sugar. The sugar helps prevent the cake from sticking to the towel. Fold the end of the towel up over one of the short ends of the cake, then begin rolling the cake tightly into the towel. When you have the cake all rolled up, set it aside to cool completely to room temperature inside the towel. This usually takes about an hour.
Make the frosting. While the cake is cooling, make the cream cheese frosting by beating together softened cream cheese and butter. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and mix until completely combined and the frosting is smooth and creamy. Do try to avoid eating it all with a spoon right now because you need it to fill the cake roll!
Assemble. Once completely cooled, gently unroll the cake from the towel and make sure it is fully released on all sides from the towel. Dollop the frosting onto the inside of the cake roll, then very carefully roll the cake back up. Transfer the carrot cake roll to a serving dish, then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to set the filling.
Carrot Cake Roll
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ¾ cups finely grated carrots
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- 8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 5 tablespoons butter (softened)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit. Line a 10×15 inch jelly roll pan (or cookie sheet with a raised edge) with parchment paper. Allow the parchment paper to come at least 1 inch above the sides of the pan for easy lifting the finished cake from the pan. Spray the parchment paper in the pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs at high speed for 5 minutes until thickened and frothy. Add the sugar and vanilla, then beat at high speed for 1 minute.
- Pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir gently just until combined. Stir in the grated carrots.
- Spread the cake batter evenly into the prepared jelly roll pan, spreading all the way to the edges. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (do not under bake).
- Sprinkle a large, clean kitchen towel very generously with powdered sugar (use at least ½ cup). As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, turn the cake out of the pan onto the prepared towel. Peel away the parchment paper carefully.
- Fold the end of the towel over one of the short ends of the cake. Roll the cake up into the towel, starting at the short end. Set the cake aside to cool completely to room temperature, about 1 hour.
- While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined and the frosting is creamy.
- Very gently, unroll the cooled cake roll and be sure it is fully released from the towel. Spread the frosting onto the cake, edge to edge. Re-roll the cake gently. Transfer the cake roll to a plate, seam side down.
- Chill the cake roll in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Tips for Removing the Cake Roll from the Pan
Removing the hot, soft cake from the pan and lowering it onto the powdered sugar covered towel may seem like a difficult task, but it is actually quite simple if you follow these key steps:
- Extra parchment paper. Measure your parchment paper for the jelly roll pan so that it rises above the long sides of the pan. This will give you a way to lift the cake out of the pan a little easier.
- Handle carefully. The cake is very thin and soft and can break or tear easily as you flip it onto the powdered sugar coated towel. You may want to wear heat resistant gloves or oven mitts so you can work with the hot cake without burning yourself.
- Lower gently. Hold the cake with your two hands under it. Allow one of the short ends to dangle just a bit and lower that end to the kitchen towel. Slowly scoot the cake off of your hands onto the towel a little at a time until the whole cake is on the towel with the parchment paper side facing up.
- Remove the paper. Very carefully, peel away the parchment paper. If you notice any part sticking, use a butter knife to help release it without tearing the cake. Since you’ve used both parchment paper and non-stick spray, you shouldn’t have to deal with the cake sticking much, if at all.
Tips for Rolling the Cake
Here are some tips to help you roll the cake easily:
- Choose a side. Start with one of the short, 10-inch ends. Fold the end of the kitchen towel up over that end of the cake.
- Roll with care. Begin rolling the cake at the short end you’ve covered with the towel. Roll it right up into the towel. This keeps the cake from sticking to itself while it cools.
- Roll it tight… but not too tight. You do want to roll the cake tightly, but not so tight that you smash the cake at all. You are just shaping the cake so that after you frost it, the cake will easily take the shape of a perfect cake roll.
- Unroll with care. When the cake is cooled, you will unroll it. Do this slowly and gently, taking care to make sure it is completely released from the towel on both the top and bottom of the cake.
- Roll slowly. When you have frosted the inside of the cake roll, roll it back up very slowly. This is when the cake could crack. Moving slow and paying attention to any place where the cake might show signs of cracking can help you avoid getting a big split in the top of your cake.
What to do if the cake roll does crack? Don’t panic. Just keep going and finish the cake roll. Powdered sugar can cover up any small cracks in the cake.
Can I add raisins and nuts?
Some carrot cakes contain raisins, nuts, pineapple and/or coconut. However, these extra ingredients might impact the texture of the carrot cake roll and cause it to be difficult to roll without cracking and possibly falling apart. Because of this, I don’t recommend adding items such as raisins and nuts to the cake batter.
A better option: Make extra frosting to pipe on the top of your finished cake roll, then sprinkle it with chopped walnuts, pecans, raisins or coconut.
Can I make the cake roll ahead of time?
Yes! You can easily make your cake roll the day before you plan to serve it. Just keep it wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator and dust with extra powdered sugar when you’re ready to serve.
Another wonderful thing about this cake roll is that it freezes well! Make carrot cake rolls when you have the time, then wrap them very well in plastic wrap and freeze for up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours before serving. Talk about an easy make-ahead dessert…this is perfect!