I don’t need much convincing when it comes to carrot cake. I’ll have it any which way you’re making it. Is it more coconut than carrot? Chocked full of walnuts and dried cranberries and pineapple and raisins? I’m here for it. Mostly, I’m here for the cream cheese frosting so…. whatever is underneath gets a hearty thumbs up from me.
If you have my first cookbook, there’s a Carrot Bundt Cake, kitchen-sink-style, in that in has every dang thing in it.
You might also enjoy these Carrot Cake Cupcakes topped with dreamy Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting.
We’ve got bells. We’ve got whistles. We’ve got it all.
With this loaf cake, we’re stripping it all away.
This if this loaf as a simple, sweet and dense cake. Along the lines of a banana bread, without the banana – with a big heap of fresh shredded carrots.
Why should banana get all the glory?
Here’s what you’ll need:
• Flour and granulated sugar. Leavening and spices.
This cake works really well in the gluten-free arena if you’d like to substitute flours. I love Cup4Cup gluten free flour because it produces the lightest gf breads but it does contain milk powder. Bob’s Red Mill is also a great option!
• Large eggs and buttermilk.
• Butter that’s been melted to brown. It’ll smell deliciously nutty. Pro tips: How To Brown Butter (I don’t want you to burn anything, k?)
• Carrots, peeled and grated on the fine side of a box grater.
We’ll start by mixing the dry ingredients together.
It starts with flour and sugar in a large bowl.
Baking soda is our leavener. It will react with the buttermilk and create that distinct rise in the oven.
Salt, too. As it goes with every fine baked good.
Spices are up to you! You can keep this bread plain and sweet though I like a big dose of cinnamon, ground ginger and freshly grated nutmeg. I think they balance the sweetness with intention.
Now for the wet ingredients.
We’ll start with buttermilk! (the best of all baking milks)
Two large eggs.
We’ll add the browned butter (and all those browned bits) to the egg and milk mixture, whisking it thoroughly to combine.
Peel two carrots (this should be enough but it depends on the size of yours) before grating them. The outsides have be a bit dry and have a bitterness that we don’t want in our bread.
Grate on the fine side of a box grater.
Watch your fingers. Always.
Add the shredded carrots to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.
A spoon is the way to go here.
A whisk will catch too much of the carrot strands.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Use a spatula… get all the goodness in there.
The batter will be thicker than pourable and feel almost fluffy.
Grease a loaf pan and, for ease, line the pan with parchment paper and grease the paper, too.
The paper makes it super easy to lift the bread out of the pan once it’s baked and cooled.
Can we get to the good stuff?
Cream Cheese Frosting! (I’m shouting that from the depths of my heart.)
The cake needs to be completely cooled before it’s frosted. Not mostly cool. Not kinda cool. Completely Cool. Trust me on this. We’re frosting a sloped surface and if the cake is warm at all, the precious frosting will slide right off.
You can leave the frosting as is OR add chopped almonds and pistachios.
May I humbly suggest you add the nuts. The salt and crunch is really very nice.
A quick spell in the refrigerator will help chill are slightly harden the frosting. It will always be a little sticky but that’s part of the charm.
Dense, but somehow tender and light, studded with orange bits and carrot flavor. It’s really simple and that’s just what I wanted it to be. If you have a few carrots and a bit of butter…. you’ve got this breadcake. Delicious with out without the cream cheese frosting.
The recipe below is for a single loaf though I happen to feel like this recipe is just begging to be doubled.
These photos were made with the ever-dear Jon Melendez.
- 6 ounces unsalted butter, melted and browned to just over 1/2 cup of butter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/4 cup finely grated carrots
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 - 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
- roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan and set aside.
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Butter will begin to foam and crackle as it melts. When the crackling subsides, the butter will begin to brown. Swirl the pan as the butter cooks. When the butter browns and begins to smell nutty, remove the pan from the flame and transfer the butter to a small bowl. Taking the butter out of the hot saucepan will stop the butter from overcooking and burning. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla extract, and buttermilk. Stir in the grated carrots. When butter has cooled, whisk in the browned butter.
- Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients. Fold together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to reveal any hidden pockets of flour. Fold together ingredients, but try not to over stir.
- Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 15 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, in a medium bowl stir together cream cheese and butter. Add sugar and salt. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of cream, adding more if necessary. The frosting should be thick and spreadable.
- Remove the loaf cake from the pan and spread the frosting over the cooled loaf cake. Sprinkle generously with chopped nuts. Slice generously and enjoy!
- Bread will last 4 days, well wrapped at room temperature.