chai spiced carrot loaf cake with brown butter cream cheese

carrot loaf cake

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!
carrot loaf cake
carrot loaf cake
carrot loaf cake
carrot loaf cake
carrot loaf cake
carrot loaf cake
carrot loaf cake

chai spiced carrot loaf cake with brown butter cream cheese

Megan
spicy chai meets sweet spring carrots in this simple and flavor packed loaf cake topped with a brown butter cream cheese frosting and candied walnuts.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Cooling Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 1 9X5 loaf

Equipment

  • 9X5 loaf pan
  • parchment paper
  • stand mixer with whisk attachment, optional
  • medium sauce pan

Ingredients
  

pumpkin bread

  • 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

Instructions
 

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.

Notes

This is my personal favorite chai mix. If you have a chai mix you like, feel free to use it in this recipe.
3 tbsp ground ginger 
2 tbsp ground cinnamon 
1 tbsp ground allspice 
1 tbsp ground cardamon 
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg 
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves 
Place all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well to combine. Store in a spice jar or small mason jar. 
Keyword carrot loaf cake, quick breads, spring cake
did you make this recipe?tag @olivesnthyme on Instagram

did you make this recipe?

love this recipe? let others know by leaving a comment below!

love this recipe? let others know by leaving a comment below!

35 thoughts on “chai spiced carrot loaf cake with brown butter cream cheese

  1. Just made this and it’s delish! Thanks for sharing. I added a splash of nutmeg syrup which I got on my travels to the Caribbean to the frosting and it really worked.

    1. I haven’t. But, I could see this topping banana muffins, pumpkin bread, any spiced bread. It would also go really well on my Chai Spiced Apple Cupcakes!

    1. Hi Cindy, I would use 2 tsp cinnamon only in this case. It won’t be chai mix per say, but it will still be delicious! Just make sure to omit the other spices and use 2 tsp cinnamon only. Let me know how it turns out!

  2. I have made this twice in the past three days 🙂
    It is so delicious! 🙂
    I have replaced the chai spice with 2 tsp of cinnamon. It tastes amazing this way too.
    Thank you Megan for sharing this recipe!

  3. So so so good!!! I squeezed the liquid from the carrots and added grated beetroot (not squeezed) on top of that. I didn’t have any cake flour, so used all-purpose/plain, but replaced 2 tbsp of it with 2 tbsp of cornflour (has a higher protein content). I used 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice instead of the chai mix (didn’t have any). Honestly one of the best cakes I have ever made. Thanks for such a great recipe!👍😋

    1. Correct. 3 cups of powdered sugar. This makes a generous amount of frosting. If you’re wanting less, cut the entire frosting recipe by half.

  4. I tried this recipe and something didn’t quite work out. It took less long to cook than the recipe said and ended up a bit dry, with a tougher crust than in the pictures. Do you know what might have gone wrong? Thanks!

    1. Hi! Thanks for asking. Did you use a glass or metal loaf pan? Does your oven run hot? If you could provide a bit more info, I can try to help you figure this out!

      1. I used a metal loaf pan and the oven should have been pretty accurate (I used an oven thermometer inside to check). The only thing I think could have gone wrong is that the mixture was very thick once everything was incorporated so it could have been overmixed.

      2. I use a light metal loaf pan. Its easy to overtax the batter with all the different elements. Next time, I would mix the dry/yogurt with the wet by hand. Its much easier to over mix with a stand mixer. Also, when adding the carrots, start folding those in when you have about 15-20% flour left from the last addition. When you insert a cake tester into the center, a few moist crumbs is fine. You could also try to let the loaf sit for 10-15 minutes in the pan and then very carefully remove it to cool more on the cooling rack. Please let me know if this helps!

  5. Yummy! First time but not the last time for this loaf! I didn’t put any icing on.
    But this loaf doesn’t need it, it stands alone with the flavour.
    Thank you for a wonderful addition to my desserts.

    1. Hi, heather! Thank you for trying the recipe. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I do love it as a stand alone (sans frosting) for breakfast 🙂

  6. This looks so delicious! I love browned butter, I brown butter in the microwave and make rice crispy treats with marshmallow creme–so good. I have a larger microplane for grating cheese, and it does work really well for grating onions, carrots, etc. I use my regular microplane for citrus zest, fresh garlic and ginger. I love subbing fresh ginger when I can to desserts like pumpkin pie or cakes. Your Chai spice mix reminds me of French quatres d’épices which is used for pain d’épices, a quick spice bread made with honey.

    1. I think you have a great system in place for making this bread. I love the idea of adding ginger! I will definitely have to give that a try. Your spiced honey bread sounds incredibly delicious!

  7. I just tried this! Unfortunately I do not have a traditional oven and it only goes by 10 degrees celsius increments so I think I started at too high of a temperature. Your suggestions in the comments section helped though because my loafs tend to come out fairly dry and I had no idea it might be due to over mixing. I was more conscious this time not to do that so hopefully it turns out okay (I’m still cooling it now.)

    I did want to know if I cannot finish the whole thing in one day, since we have butter and cream cheese in the frosting, would you recommend to spread the frosting now and store the whole thing in the fridge, or store the bread and frosting separately, only putting the frosting on when I eat it…?

    1. Hi! I would store the unfrosted carrot cake covered at room temperature for a day. Frost it and enjoy. Store any leftovers covered in the fridge for a few days. If storing for longer, you can freeze slices to enjoy later! Hope this helps!

      1. Hi! I ended up frosting it and putting the whole thing in the fridge. Cut a slice today and let it sit out til it reaches room temperature and it was perfect! I have never had anything come out so perfectly moist from this oven before. Going to try adding some raisins next time 🙂

  8. I love this recipe with sugars halved and a handful of dried currants or raisins thrown in! The chai spice is soooo yummy!

  9. Hi, this recipe sounds amazing. I’m allergic to eggs, what’s the best substitute I can try? Thanks! Xx

    1. Hi! You can try substituting 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce per egg (so 1/2c for this recipe) OR you can try a “flax egg” by mixing 1 tbsp ground flax with 3 tbsp water. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes after mixing before using in the recipe. For this recipe you would need a total of 2 tbsp flax mixed with 6 tbsp water.
      Please let me know how it turns out and what substitute you use!

    1. Hi! I would go with a total of 2 c all purpose flour and 2 tbsp cornstarch. Sift all together 2-3 times. This should get you close to the texture when using the mix. If you don’t have cornstarch, go with 2 c all purpose. The bread will be slightly denser than the recipe as written. Hope that helps!

  10. This is so delicious! I can’t believe I’ve never made brown butter frosting! I ended up using the microplane to shred my carrots and I really liked the outcome. Thank you so much for the recipe!

    1. Thank you! Im so happy you enjoyed the recipe. I still need to try the microplane method. Your comment has officially pushed me to try it! Brown butter frosting is the most delicious thing. If you have any left over, you can freeze it in an airtight container for a couple of months. You know, for when those frosting cravings strike! 🙂

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