Tips for a Moist Cake and a Brazilian-Style Carrot Cake (Bolo de Cenoura)

Carrot cake, like culture, shows differences based upon their place of origin– at least American and Brazilian carrot cakes do!

American carrot cakes contain nuts and sometimes crushed pineapple and shredded coconut or raisins, adding richness to the cake by the addition of other flavorings.  The Brazilian version is simpler, less sweet, and has carrots as its sole flavoring agent. As an added bonus, Brazilian carrot cake is ideal for kids since the carrots are well blended into the cake (no visible slivers of carrot) and it is topped with chocolate sauce.  The type of pan preferred for baking this cake also differs from one country to the other.   In the US, carrot cakes are often prepared in a round baking pan, a loaf pan, or even in a cupcake tin.  On the other hand, in Brazil they are generally baked in a ring mold or a rectangular baking pan, although personal preferences also apply.

Ah yes, they also differ when it comes to frosting.  While American-style carrot cake is frequently topped with a cream cheese frosting, Brazilian-style carrot cake is either served plain (like a coffee cake) or more typically, topped with a chocolate sauce.  I have to confess that I do prefer mine dusted with powdered sugar instead of topped with chocolate sauce.  I love both American and Brazilian carrot cakes… and now that you know about Brazilian carrot cake, there is something new and wonderful for you to try on your plate, right?!

Carrots and Chocolate

Regardless of how they might differ from one another, both carrot cake versions fall into the baking category of shortened, oil cakes– which means that this particular type of cake is moister and denser than those known as shortened, butter cakes (such as traditional yellow cake, marble cake, and most wedding and birthday cakes). In addition, the fat and sugar are not creamed… oil is the added fat used for moistness and density in the carrot cake.   Since oils always remain liquid and never set into solid form, this type of cake can be refrigerated without losing its tenderness and moistness.

Although when properly structured oil cakes are moist, butter cakes can be also.  Here are a few tips to add moistness to your cakes and prevent them from drying out:

Tips for a moist cake:

  • Substitute a fruit puree (e.g. applesauce, pumpkin puree, mashed ripe bananas, canned crushed pineapple or plum puree) for 1/2 of the oil or butter that is called for in the recipe.  The fiber in the fruit puree helps to absorb moisture and keep the cake moist.   It is true that the cake will be a little denser than one without a fruit puree, but it will be moist.
  • Add 1/4 cup of sour cream, instant pudding (the undissolved powder), or mayonnaise (the real thing) to the batter of butter cakes (Remember: butter cakes are the ones in which butter and sugar are creamed). 
  • Replace milk with buttermilk, but do not forget to add baking soda to the batter to neutralize the acids present in the buttermilk.  The general ratio is 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda per 1 cup of buttermilk. 
  • For butter and oil cakes made with gluten-free flour, use the amount of butter or oil called for in the recipe and add a 1/2 cup of a fruit puree (e.g. applesauce) to the batter.
  • If you are making a layered cake, brush the baked and cooled cake layers with simple syrup.  This is a technique professional bakers use to keep the layers of a cake moist, whether the cake is from scratch or from a mix.  After the simple syrup has been applied, spread a thin coating of frosting and let the frosting dry before putting on the final layer.
  • To prevent a cake from drying out, always store it well covered.  Butter cakes are best kept at room temperature, while oil cakes can be refrigerated.

With all that said, let’s go to the kitchen to get this baby baked!

Carrot Cake with Chocolate Topping

Yield: 1 (9-inch or 23 cm) cake

Segment: Brazilian cuisine

Carrot Cake with Chocolate Topping


For the Carrot Cake Batter:

340 g carrot (about 2-1/2 large carrots), peeled and grated
240 ml vegetable oil
2 teaspoons (or 10 ml) pure vanilla extract
260 g all-purpose flour (or your favorite gluten-free flour. In this case, add 1/2 cup of applesauce to the batter)
2 teaspoons (or 10g) baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 large egg yolk at room temperature
400 g granulated sugar
Chocolate Sauce

For the Chocolate Sauce:

100 g milk chocolate, chopped
1 cup (240 ml) milk
1 tablespoon (or 15 g) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons (or 30 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (about 180 degrees C).  Grease  a round ring mold (9-inch or 23 cm diameter) and dust with flour.

2. In a blender, blend the carrot, oil and vanilla together very well until the mixture is homogeneous and smooth.  Reserve.

3. In a large bowl, sift the flour and baking powder.  Reserve.

4. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and the yolk at medium speed until frothy (about 1 minute).  Gradually add the sugar and beat until sugar has been well incorporated (about 1 minute).  Stir in the mixture of blended carrots using a spatula.  Then, add the flour/yeast mixture in 3-4 additions and also a pinch of salt, beating on low speed until the flour has been incorporated to the batter (Please, do not overbeat!!!).

Cake batter

5. Pour batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool completely on a wire rack. Unmold and top with chocolate sauce.  Decorate as desired. You can also serve this cake plain or dusted with powdered sugar instead of topping with chocolate sauce. This cake is moist without being oily!!! If you are intolerant to dairy, serve cake dusted with powdered sugar. 

Cake is about to be baked...

Baked cake

6. To prepare the chocolate sauce: In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly.  When it starts to boil, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce had thicken (about 5 minutes).  Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla extract, and let sauce cool down to warm.  Pour over cake.

Note: If you don’t have a ring mold pan, you can bake the batter in a standard-size cupcake pan.  In this case, fill 3/4 full and bake for approximately 18-20 minutes.  Please, always do the toothpick test!!  You can either use paper liners, or grease and dust the cupcake pan. 


You might also enjoy:

Receita em Português:

Bolo de Cenoura com Cobertura de Chocolate

Rendimento: 1 (23 cm) bolo

Bolo de Cenoura com Cobertura de Chocolate


Para a Massa:

340 g cenoura descascada e ralada
240 ml de óleo vegetal
2 colheres de (chá) de essência de baunilha
260 g de farinha de trigo
2 colheres de (chá) de fermento em pó
Uma pitada de sal
3 ovos grandes, à temperatura ambiente
1 gema grande, à temperatura ambiente
400 g de açúcar granulado
Calda de Chocolate

Para a Calda de Chocolate:

100 g de chocolate ao leite picado
1 xícara (chá) de leite
1 colher (sopa) de manteiga sem sal
2 colheres (sopa) de mel
1 colher de (sopa) de essência de baunilha

Modo de Preparo:

1. Pré-aqueça o forno a 180 graus C. Unte e polvilhe com farinha uma forma redonda de buraco (23 cm de diâmetro).

2. Bata bem a cenoura, o óleo e a baunilha no liquidificador até obter uma mistura homogênea lisa. Reserve.

3. Numa tigela grande, peneire a farinha e o fermento. Reserve.

4. Na batedeira, bata os ovos e a gema à velocidade média por aproximadamente 1 minuto. Gradualmente adicione o açúcar e bata até o açúcar tenha se incorporado à mistura (aproximadamente 1 minuto). Acrescente a mistura de cenoura liquidificada, misturando com uma espátula. Depois acrescente a mistura de farinha e fermento e uma pitada de sal, batendo em velocidade baixa até que a farinha tenha se incorporado à massa (É importante somente bater o suficiente para que a farinha se incorpore).

5. Despeje a massa na forma untada e polvilhada. Asse por aproximadamente 40 minutos ou até que um palito inserido no centro saia limpo. Deixe esfriar completamente sobre uma grade. Desenforme e cubra com a calda de chocolate morna. Decore como desejar.

6. Para a preparar a calda de chocolate: Numa panela, junte todos os ingredientes e leve ao fogo médio-alto, mexendo bem com um batedor até começar a ferver. Abaixe o fogo para médio-baixo e deixe cozinhar até que a calda tenha engrossado (aproximadamente 5 minutos). Retire do fogo, misture a baunilha e deixe amornar. Despeje sobre o bolo.




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28 Responses to Tips for a Moist Cake and a Brazilian-Style Carrot Cake (Bolo de Cenoura)

  1. SallyBR April 16, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    Denise, achei seu site semana passada e amei! Sou brasileira, vivendo fora do Brasil desde 1993, casei com um americano e alem de casados, trabalhamos juntos tambem

    seu post do bolo de cenoura me trouxe muitas saudades, era algo que minha irma fazia quando eu era crianca e nem me lembro a ultima vez que saboreei um bolinho de cenoura (ela fazie em forma retangular mesmo)

    um beijao, e “look forward to more posts from you! ;-)

    • Denise Browning April 16, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

      Oi, Sally!!! Estou super feliz com a sua visita. Que bom que você gostou do meu bolo de cenoura. O bolo está quase acabando e é que fiz essa manhã.:) Essa receita é bem molhadinha. Espero que você experimente. Embora eu adore chocolate, eu prefiro o meu bolo de cenoura sem a cobertura, simples mesmo de tanto que gosto desse bolo. Obrigada por me visitar e espero que você volte sempre. Um abraço.

  2. Coffee and Crumpets April 16, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    I also see that the Brazilian recipe purees the carrot, we usually add grated. I see a lot of pluses to this cake! Looks so moist and delicious.
    Your photos are gorgeous Denise!


    • Denise Browning April 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

      Thanks, Nazneen! Yes, we pureed the carrots…and this make the cake even moister. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  3. Nydia April 16, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    You know what, I like the ide to blend the carrot, so it can be hidden for kids. My kids are always looking to “colored things” inside my cakes, if they find something strange, they don’t eat.
    Thanks for the tips to have moist cakes…very useful…!!!

    • Denise Browning April 16, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

      Thanks a lot, Nydia! I have a picky 6-year-old daughter and she loved this cake. There is not even a tiny piece of carrot appearing there. I think it is ideal for children who do not like to eat veggies.

  4. Deb April 16, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    Our wedding cake was a traditional American carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. At the time it was my favorite cake. Now it tend to favor citrus based desserts or those with seasonal fruit. The Brazilian style of cake is appealing. I imagine more of the carrot flavor is apparent when not combined with pineapple, coconut and walnuts. A lovely post!

    • Denise Browning April 16, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

      Thanks, Deb! This is a great coffee cake. I personally eat mine plain or dusted with powdered sugar.

  5. The Café Sucre Farine April 16, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

    Your cake is first of all gorgeous Denise, I love the way you used the fresh flowers to decorate. It also looks so moist and delicious and thanks for all the great tips!

    • Denise Browning April 17, 2013 at 7:09 am #

      My pleasure, Chris! And thank you for your sweet words…It’s always good to hear from you.

  6. Liz April 16, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    Who knew there was a Brazilian version of carrot cake? Not me! I’d love it just as you described…with a dusting of powdered sugar. Though I love the decadent American version, I’d feel less guilt and immense pleasure eating a slice of yours.

    • Denise Browning April 17, 2013 at 7:07 am #

      Thanks, Liz! I love both the American and Brazilian carrot cakes for different reasons. I hope you can try this new version for you.

  7. Juliana April 16, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    Hi Denise, I remember this carrot cake from Brasil…puree carrots…yours sure look great…light and fluffy and yes, not oily at all.
    Thanks for reminding me of this recipe and have a wonderful week :)

    • Denise Browning April 17, 2013 at 7:06 am #

      My pleasure, Juliana!!!! Have a nice week as well and thanks for stopping by.

  8. Raymund April 17, 2013 at 1:21 am #

    Honestly thats the most beautiful carrot cake that I’ve ever seen

  9. Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen April 17, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    I love the sound of a Brazilian carrot cake! Your cake looks so gorgeous too,I love your food styling and photos!

  10. Kate@Diethood April 17, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Pureed carrots! Now that’s a great idea!!
    The cake looks beautiful, Denise!

    • Denise Browning April 17, 2013 at 9:57 am #

      Thanks, Kate! I think the pureed carrots are especially great here to make picky eaters eat the cake without complaining…:)

  11. Amira April 17, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    It really does not have a trace of carrot !!! just a whole orange colored cake… I tried so hard making my kids eat the American one but as soon as they glanced the slivers of carrots they just turn their bake and say no way :) and whith the addition of chocolate sauce, who can resist this ? :) I will try this for sure, it almost has all the solutions to my probles in making kids eat carrot cakes. Thanks a million.

    • Denise Browning April 17, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

      Thank you, amira, for stopping by and commenting…My 6-year-old loves this cake a lot and I hope yours enjoy to eat it as well.

  12. Purabi Naha April 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    Denise, I seriously loved this post! The tips on how to keep the cake moist, are very helpful. You carrot cake is looking yummy! Definitely need to try this, sounds like a delicious recipe!!

    • Denise Browning April 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

      Thanks, Purabi! I hope you can try to apply these tips on your next cakes. They really work. Thanks for stopping by.

  13. Julia | April 18, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    Beautiful cake ! Love the simplicity of the recipe, too. What what great tips all collected in one place – I read every single one of them! Pinned – onto my Everyday Cakes pinboard!

    • Denise Browning April 19, 2013 at 7:06 am #

      Thanks, Julia! I loved you Alfredo pasta as well and have pinned onto my Pasta pinboard. Wishing you a great week.


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