This super moist carrot cake loaf is both easy and delicious, generously topped with cream cheese frosting. A wonderful treat to enjoy any time of day or any time of year.
When it comes to my favourite cakes, Carrot Cake is right up there! And when it comes to my favourite carrot cake recipe, this is it. This is the one my Mom always made and all these years later, it's still the one I make.
My Mom always made this cake as a 9x13-inch sheet cake. Somewhere along the way, given my lack of restraint around it, I scaled back the recipe to make a smaller cake in loaf form. It satisfies the craving, without having too much sitting around to tempt me.
I have come to love the loaf shaped carrot cake. Even though it's a loaf, served thickly sliced, it's still a plate and fork kind of cake. The taller loaf also allows me to use a generous amount of cream cheese frosting, which is always desirable in my books :)
Vegetable oil - I always make this loaf with vegetable oil and I do recommend it, as years of making this loaf has proven it works perfectly. Other oils, such as canola oil or Sunflower may work, though I haven't tested them myself. Olive oil wouldn't be recommended as it will introduce a flavour to the loaf. Finally, butter, either room temperature or melted, may possibly work, but I have not tested it and I would expect that it would change the texture and shelf-life of this loaf.
I know that we tend to think of cooking oil as generally interchangeable, but the type of oil used can make a different in baking recipes like this one. For guaranteed success, use the recommended oil.
Carrots - Of course, it wouldn't be a carrot cake without carrots :) While any carrot will do, I do like to pick up some fresh, organic carrots if I can, for best flavour.
White sugar - sugar in baking recipes perform more of a role than just sweetening. It contributes both to the texture and moistness of the finished loaf. While it may be possible to reduce the sugar successfully, it generally comes at some cost to the quality of the finished loaf. I always recommend using the specified amount of sugar first, and then, if desired, slightly reduce in subsequent bakes, until you find the sweet spot for you.
Walnuts - Nuts are optional in this cake, but do offer some nice flavour and texture to the loaf. I generally use walnuts, but pecans would work nicely as well.
If you don't want to use nuts, but the idea of raisins or coconut appeals to you, you could add 1 cup of either, in place of the nuts.
Cream cheese - You can use either full-fat or fat-reduced cream cheese here, though you may find you need less confectioners' sugar with the reduced fat cream cheese, so keep that in mind when mixing the icing.
You will also need - All-purpose flour, eggs (2), baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, butter (for the frosting), vanilla and icing/confectioners' sugar.
Lining the loaf pan with parchment paper is highly recommended. This is a tender loaf when warm and there really is nothing worse that having a loaf break when trying to get it out of the pan. Parchment paper removes that worry completely.
Be sure to measure your flour by using the stir, spoon and level method. That is 1) Stir your flour. 2) Spoon into a dry (usually metal) measuring cup, over-filling the cup then 3) use the back flat edge of a knife to level off the flour, even with the top of the measuring cup.
Do note that baking time is never exact, as ovens vary and different types and colours of baking pans can also affect baking time. Be sure to test the loaf with a long skewer. It should come out clean. It make take longer in your oven, so just bake it until it tests clean.
This cake stays fresh for days. It will also freeze well, even when frosted.
You can take this basic recipe to make a sheet cake or a two-layer cake by doubling the recipe.
Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, grated, well packed
- 1 cup walnuts, or pecans, finely chopped (optional)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- Pinch salt
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups icing/confectioners' sugar
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- Line a 4 1/2 x 10-inch or 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside. *I like to just line the bottom and long sides with one sheet of parchment, overhanging the sides by an inch or so, to use as handles to lift it out of the pan later.
- In a large bowl with an electric beater or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the white sugar and oil. Add the shredded carrots and mix in. Add the eggs and beat in. Add the nuts and stir to combine. Stir in the flour mixture and mix until well combined.
- Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. *A lot of factors can affect baking time. Every oven is different and the type of baking pan you use can also affect the baking time. You loaf might take longer. As such, you must test the loaf with a long skewer or tester (so it reaches into the very centre of the loaf) before taking it out of the oven. It should come out clean. If in doubt, leave it in the oven a bit longer.
- Cool the loaf in the pan for 15 minutes, then lift out to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- To make frosting: Beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Add the icing sugar and beat until fluffy and smooth.
Nutritional information provided for general guidance only and should not be relied upon to make personal health decisions.