Exploring Carrot Cake

Updated on September 27, 2017
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Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

According to the World Carrot Museum...

I'll bet that got your attention, didn't it? In addition to natural history and civic collections, there are museums dedicated to cars, wars, sports, arcade machines, chess sets, matchbooks, and Barbie dolls (to name just a few). Practically anything you can think of has probably been revered and enshrined in a gallery. But carrots?!

Yes, it's true, although you can't drive there and peek through the windows. The World Carrot Museum is a virtual home for anything and everything that has to do with carrots. And, why not? As outlined in my recent article "Exploring Carrots: Facts, Folklore, and Fun Recipes," the carrot has existed on this planet for eons. Most food historians believe that they originated in Asia. By the 10th century purple carrots were growing in Iran and northern Arabia; from there they spread to northern Africa and into Spain. By the mid-16th century Holland was leading the pack in the cultivation of the carrot, and the brightly-colored root was deemed attractive enough to gain a prominent place in several Dutch Masters paintings. Ultimately carrots found their way into stews, soups, and puddings and in 1749 carrots were being exported from England by the Dutch East India Company.

But, What About Carrot Cake?

Carrot cake has a history more recent than the Stone Age. Again, our cherished food historians trace the first carrot cakes back to the steamed carrot pudding of Medieval times. Carrots are naturally sweet in flavor, and they were certainly prevalent, so it makes sense that they would appear in a dessert-like fashion. According to the U.K. World Carrot Museum:

In the Oxford Companion to Food, writer Alan Davidson believes that carrots were used in Europe to make sweet cakes. These were a predecessor to the carrot cake. Because sweeteners were rationed during the Second World War carrot pudding was seen as an alternative in the UK. Later on, carrot cake was seen as a 'health food'.

A Health Food?

Wow, that rationale certainly works for me! Although I have the nickname "Carb Diva", sweet treats are usually not my carb of choice unless, of course, you are speaking of carrot cake. I love this confection so much that it has become my traditional birthday cake.(I won't say how many years, but suffice it to say I was alive during the Eisenhower administration. And, coincidently, my birthday also happens to be National Carrot Cake Day.)

Recipes

Carrot Cake (CC) Recipes in this Article:

  • Carb Diva's "World Famous" CC
  • Classic Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Candied Carrot Curls
  • CC Oatmeal Cookies
  • CC Overnight Oats
  • CC Roll
  • CC Cheesecake
  • CC Granola Bar Bites
  • CC Biscotti
  • CC Pancakes
  • CC Truffles

Carb Diva's "World Famous" Carrot Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups shredded carrots, raw
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple, drained

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch cake pan.
  3. Sift together the first 6 ingredients (flour through nutmeg) and set aside. Place the sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Mix together with a spoon.
  4. Add the dry (flour) mixture, and then stir in the carrots, coconut, walnuts, and pineapple.
  5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool and frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.

What makes this recipe work?

  • The addition of applesauce serves two purposes--first, it substitutes for some of the cooking oil. And the acid of the apples reacts with the baking soda to provide more lift (leavening) to this dense cake batter.
  • Flaked coconut and pineapple provide some natural sweetness.
  • Chopped walnuts contribute texture and a satisfying crunch.

Here's a cream cheese frosting recipe:

Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

Samantha's classic cream-cheese frosting (which she posted on her blog FiveHeartHome.com) is rich, smooth, creamy and not too sweet. It will sit perfectly atop your perfect carrot cake.

And then, why not make some candied carrot curls to decorate the top of your cake?

Candied Carrot Curls

Thank you Stef (at CupcakeProject.com) for making carrot curls. Certainly prettier than a blob of orange frosting that's supposed to look like a carrot (I couldn't sculpt anything out of frosting if my life depended on it).

But Wait, There's More

We can't stop with just one carrot cake recipe. This super moist, flavorful treat is so beloved its flavors have been adapted in many different ways. Here are a few more ideas for your eating pleasure.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies

Amy'sHealthyBaking.com is where I found this recipe for extra soft, moist carrot and oatmeal cookies. Each one is 96 calories; I think you could eat these for breakfast and not feel (too) guilty.

Carrot Cake Overnight Oats

There is a new (to me) trend in meal preparation. Do a Google search for "overnight oats." My results were 13,700,000 hits in 0.40 seconds. (WOW!). Overnight oats are a healthy way to plan ahead for those frantic got-to-get-the-kids-to-school mornings. They're also gluten and dairy free. This carrot cake version by Lorrie of BeWholeBeYou.com is so good even I made it and (1) I don't have kids in school, (2) my mornings aren't frantic, and (3) we don't need gluten- or dairy-free.

Carrot Cake Roll

If you've never made a roll cake, this might be a good choice for your first attempt. This carrot cake roll is moist and forgiving. Dorothy of CrazyForCrust.com provides great step-by-step instructions and lots of photographs.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

Jaclyn is the owner/operator of the blog CookingClassy.com (with a sprinkle of fancy). She has combined my two favorite desserts (carrot cake and cheesecake) into one amazing treat.

Carrot Cake Granola Bar Bites

Amy (AmysHealthyBaking.com) is a California girl dedicated to "creating healthier dishes—and sweet treats—that I can eat on a regular basis without feeling guilty, greasy, or gross." Her carrot cake granola bites are a great example of her skill in putting together healthy and sweet.

Carrot Cake Biscotti

Colleen (SouffleBombay.com) has put all of the flavors of carrot cake into a full-of-spices biscotti. This is not your traditional biscotti–it's even BETTER!

Carrot Cake Pancakes

Cristin runs a SpicySouthernKitchen.com, and created these flavorful carrot cake pancakes for her family. If these don't convince your kids to get out of bed, nothing will.

Carrot Cake Truffles

Last year at Christmas my older daughter and I took a slightly different approach to our traditional flurry of baking. Instead of cookies we made a variety of truffles. I think we'll do that again, and will add these carrot cake truffles (from MomSpark.net) by Amy Bellgardt to the list.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Linda Lum

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      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        11 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Thank you, Lawrence. That makes me so happy! I've never made dukka, but I just did a Google search on it and it sounds WONDERFUL. Thanks for the suggestion.

      • lawrence01 profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 

        11 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

        Linda

        These looked absolutely awesome! Last weekend my wife and I were in Auckland, we went to a place that was recommended by a friend for a meal and had the dish that was recommended, a 'slow roasted carrot with dukka. It was amazing!

        We love carrot cake, and pretty much every time we eat out the dessert is Carrot cake in some form or other (actually it's made quite often at home as well).

        These pics and recipes made the old taste buds want to taste some carrot cake, but that'll have to wait a little while.

        Thank you.

        Lawrence

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        12 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Audrey, it's easy to write about things one loves, and I DO love my carbs, especially carrot cake. Thanks for your kindness. You always leave a bit of encouragement for me. I hope you have a wonderful week. Blessings to you.

      • vocalcoach profile image

        Audrey Hunt 

        12 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Linda...you are the queen of carb recipes. Thanks too for the history lesson about carrots. Your photos are mouth-watering. Yummy!

      • Rachel L Alba profile image

        Rachel L Alba 

        12 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

        Hi Again, Linda, I love the idea of Carrot Cake Biscotti. That's something different for the fall holidays. I'm always looking for something different.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        12 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Shaloo, it is said that one picture is worth a thousand words?

      • swalia profile image

        Shaloo Walia 

        12 months ago from India

        The photographs look so tempting!

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        12 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        Now I have more to envy about you! LOL You're not only a fabulous cook/baker, awesome writer and all-round nice person.....you get to hang out with Bill & Bev!! Grrrrrrrr ! Oh, You don't know what you're saying! I'm really good at mischief! A true trouble-maker! LOL...........Paula

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        12 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Shauna - I have sent the link to you on your email account.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        12 months ago from Central Florida

        Diva, I'm so behind in reading, I gave up on reading from the bottom up and decided to read from the top down (as the notifications appear in my inbox). Can you email me the link? That way I know I'll get to it.

        Thanks, my friend.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        12 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Shauna - I want one of those carrot oatmeal cookies right now, but unless I get out of this chair it isn't going to happen (where's that Baking Fairy when you really need her?). Thanks for stopping by.

        Oh, and if you get a chance read my article on the Steilacoom Apple Squeeze. It's happening this Sunday.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        12 months ago from Central Florida

        I'm with you, Diva. Carrot cake is my favorite type of cake. All of these recipes look yummy. I'll have to give them a try the next time I get the baking bug!

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        12 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Paula, oh yes we've met several times. It's about a 30 minute drive from Point A to Point B. And, I'd love to have you for a neighbor. Imagine all the mischief we could get into (and terrorize billybuc in the process).

        Thanks for your kind words on my article. I hope the powers that be look kindly on it as well.

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        12 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        Linda....I can't be within 10 feet of a carrot cake or it disappears. I shun sugar and it's a difficult thing...but carrot cake? That's just not fair. I can fold in a heart beat!!

        I see brother bill "kinda" likes it too! LOL. I just checked your profile to see where you're from. Well, well...how "LUCKY" for bill! There you are in Washington State!! Have you two met face to face??

        I'm really glad you're that far away from me (no offense....LOL!) Look, if I had a neighbor like you, you'd never get rid of me!!

        Paula

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        12 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Bill, it's a fun way to eat your veggies. Wow, I think I'm not a hitting streak.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        12 months ago from Olympia, WA

        I love, love, love, love, love, love carrot cake! Hooray, you wrote an article just for me. How nice of you, Linda!

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        12 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Eric, how cool that your mom won an award for her Carrot Cake. From stories of your past, it sounds as though she was really a great cook. Wonderful that you have all of those warm, comforting memories. I can almost see you making a batch of those carrot cake granola bars with Gabriel.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        12 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Rachel - Blessings to you as well. I'm glad I got your attention. What do you think about the concept of carrot cake biscotti?

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        12 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Thanks Flourish - I don't know what it is about this time of year, the change of seasons, but this is when I tend to drift toward making/baking things that are full of warm spices. I hope you'll get a chance to make one of these soon.

      • Rachel L Alba profile image

        Rachel L Alba 

        12 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

        OK, Carb Diva, You got my attention!! I absolutely love carrot cake and the other recipes here are mouth watering and amazing. Thank you for sharing all of them. I have pinned them and will be making them.

        Blessings to you.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        12 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        I just loved this article. I think I was just five or so when I switched my request from Angel to Carrot for my birthdays.

        The really cool treats for just on the go snacking are great.

        You hit another home run with this thank you.

        PS I just emailed my sister, I think my mom won a national prize for her CC. - maybe Better Homes and Garden - or readers digest? Probably around '65.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        12 months ago from USA

        Ooooeeee I don't know where to start. So many great looking recipes here! Absolutely wonderful to look at and I'm sure even better to taste!

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