This recipe is a hit in my house because it is both delicious AND healthy! Double win. This carrot loaf can be eaten by itself or topped with my favorite frosting.
For my 1-Bowl Carrot Cake Loaf
- 1/2 cup healthy oil (I used extra virgin olive oil; avocado oil or grapeseed oil also work), plus a little more for greasing the pan
- 1 cup real maple syrup
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice* (see additional notes for substitution, if needed)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
Ingredients to fold in:
- 1 ½ packed cups freshly grated carrots (about 3 medium carrots; grate fresh, don’t buy pre-shredded)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or 1/2 cup chopped raisins (using both makes the loaf too heavy, use one of these or omit them both)
For the frosting:
[To make one loaf]
- 1/4 cup butter (or vegan butter) at room temperature
- 1/4 cup cream cheese (or plain vegan cream cheese) at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon milk (or unsweetened almond milk)
- About 1/2 cup powdered sugar (AKA confectioners’ sugar)
For the carrot cake loaf:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare a 9×5 inch loaf pan with a healthy cooking spray or oil (such as coconut oil) and parchment paper fit to the middle with overhang on both sides.
- Shred the carrots on a box grater and set them aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients with a hand mixer until smooth, which should take about 90 seconds (or whisk if you don’t have a hand mixer). You want it smooth, but don’t whip too much air into the egg whites.
- Add the dry ingredients on top of the wet ingredients.
- Mix on low until the flour mixture is incorporated but not overly mixed. Scrape the flour off the sides of the bowl if needed. Mixing should take about 60 seconds on low.
- Fold in the carrots and nuts with a rubber spatula. The batter will be thick.
- Pour the mixture into the 9×5 inch loaf pan.
- Firmly tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles.
- Baking time is about 55-65 minutes until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. If you did not add any walnuts or raisins, it will take 50-55 minutes, if you use the add-ins it can take up to 65 or 70 minutes. All ovens are different, you’ll know it’s done when the toothpick comes out the center clean.
- Store in an airtight container once cooled.
For the frosting:
- Combine equal parts vegan butter (I used Earth Balance) and cream cheese (vegan or not) with vanilla and milk (or almond milk).
- Beat on medium-high with a hand mixer until very smooth, and the vanilla is incorporated.
- Add powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired sweetness is achieved. The frosting will be thick, which allows it to set on top of the cake. If it seems too thick, add milk (or unsweetened almond milk), ½ tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.
The butter and cream cheese must be at room temperature. I leave them out the night before, or early in the morning, at least 4-5 hours.
If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can use 2 teaspoons total of a combination of cinnamon/cardamom/ginger. You can also use just cinnamon if that’s all you have.
Is your carrot cake too dense? To avoid a carrot cake or carrot cake loaf that is too dense, you mustn’t overmix the batter. Whisking the batter for too long can increase the likelihood of a cake or loaf that is too dense.
I don’t believe in feeling guilty when having treats like this, but don’t forget that this carrot cake recipe is somewhat healthy. Each slice of this carrot cake loaf comes with a little boost of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium, thanks to its star ingredient (the carrot).
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 330 [with frosting]