with spring practically days away my mind has been filled with all the delicious fruits and veggies that come along with this season. i love how lightly sweet, lightly tart and fresh everything tastes in this season. my kitchen has been filled with sweet treats based around rhubarb and strawberries, and then i got a big craving for carrot cake. not really wanting to make a big layered cake (yet), i decided to tweak one of my fall loaf cake recipes- swapping carrots for pumpkin, olive oil for butter and chai spice for pumpkin spice. to my great surprise, this chai carrot loaf cake came together pretty perfectly the first time (never happens) and was so delicious it was gone in less than two days.
now, im going to let you in on a little secret- until now, i have never liked carrot cake. i know, i know. in all honesty, im pretty sure it wasn’t the cake’s fault. but, more the fault of ALL the extra things added into the cake itself. call me crazy, but add=ins belong on top of the cake, not in it! so this loaf cake has no extra things added into it- just carrots. lots and lots of carrots! it is my perfect and perfectly simple to make carrot loaf cake. -megs
a few tips…
- shredded carrots– this is a key ingredient in carrot cake (obviously), so get some whole carrots and grate them. this is not the time to get the pre shredded ones. you need the fresh moisture content and ability to grate them into finer pieces. besides, grating carrots totally counts as an upper body workout, right?!
- how to grate carrots– use a box cheese grater on the side used to grate regular shredded cheese (not the finely shredded). this yields carrots shreds that are nicely shredded. i recently came across an article from food52 where micro planing the carrots is recommended to get finely shredded carrots. i will update when i try this method!
- cake flour– like olive oil, i have been obsessed with using a mixture of cake flour and all-purpose flour. i love the tender crumb that comes from the cake flour and the structure provided by the all purpose. for this recipe, you can use all purpose in place of cake flour if you don’t have any on hand
- extra virgin olive oil– this is quite literally what i had in my pantry when i had my craving, so its what I used! this keeps the cake incredibly moist, more so than butter. you won’t be able to taste the oil, but it worth making sure you like the taste of the oil you’re using
- greek yogurt– this is the secret to giving carrot cake moisture without adding pineapple or raisins or any of the other add-ins. i imagine you could use a plant based yogurt instead to make this loaf cake dairy free
- chai spice– i wanted to use chai in place of the traditional mixture of spices. my personal chai spice blend is located in the recipe notes. if you’d like to use another one, that is completely fine for this recipe!
- brown butter cream cheese- truly, this cake it completely delicious on its own, but with cake in the name, how can you NOT?! the brown butter does take a while to make. so, if you’d like to skip and use regular, unsalted butter instead, just make sure its softened but not too warm
- candied walnuts– i randomly picked some up at trader joes a few weeks ago and they made a perfect topping!
chai spiced carrot loaf cake with brown butter cream cheese
- 9X5 loaf pan
- parchment paper
- stand mixer with whisk attachment, optional
- medium sauce pan
- 1 1/4 c cake flour (150g)
- 3/4 c all purpose flour (90g)
- 2 tsp chai spice (see notes)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 c olive oil (100ml)
- 1/2 c packed brown sugar (110g)
- 1/2 c sugar (110g)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 c whole milk greek yogurt
- 1 1/3 c finely shredded carrots (~2-3 medium carrots)
brown butter cream cheese
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter, browned and cooled (reduced to 8tbsp, 113g)
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 c powdered sugar, sifted
- 2-3 tbsp milk of choice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 c candied walnuts, roughly chopped optional
chai carrot loaf cake
- Line 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving 1-2 in. overhang on the sides. Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together both flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chai spice. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer with whisk attachment (or by hand with a whisk), beat oil and sugar until smooth and well combined. Add eggs, beating well after each one until well combined. Add vanilla extract, beating until well combined.
- In this order (dry ingredients, yogurt, dry, yogurt, dry), add dry ingredients to the wet alternating with the yogurt. Slowly beat each time until JUST combined. A few flour streaks is okay! Fold in finely shredded carrots. Gently pour into prepared pan.
- Bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Check the topping. If its browning too quickly, top with a foil tent. Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes, checking for doneness every 5 minutes (55-60 minutes total). When a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, its done. Cool in pan for at least 30 minutes. Carefully remove from pan, using the excess parchment. Continue cooling on cooling rack for an addtional 20-30 minutes. Loaf needs to be completely cooled before frosting.
brown butter cream cheese frosting
- Make brown butter while the carrot loaf is baking. It will need 45-60 minutes to cool enough to become the texture of softened butter. To make the brown butter, melt butter in a clear heavy bottom sauce pan. Once the butter starts to foam, whisk continuously until brown bits start to form. Remove from heat, pour into clean bowl, skim the foam from the top and cool.
- Cream together cooled and softened brown butter with the room temperature cream cheese until creamy and well combined, about 4-5 minutes. Stop and scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add sifted powdered sugar 1/2 c at a time, beating each addition of powdered sugar until incorporated. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl as needed. Once all the sugar has been added, add in vanilla exdtract and salt. Beat on high until the buttercream is fully incorpated and desired consistency. If the buttercream is too thick, add 2-3 tbsp milk of choice, beating until well incorporated. Using an offset spatula or frosting knife to spread on top of completely cooled carrot loaf cake. Top with candied walnuts.
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