Spiced Up Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is one of those  recipes that have been all time favourites list!  It's a very popular item in the families recipes books  and, if you "google" it , you will find many variations of the old-classic recipe . In this post , I would like to share with you my take on it: a spiced up version with a kick of heat!

The main difference among the many versions of carrot cake  recipes is the combination of fruits, nuts and spices. I have read recipes indicating the use of pineapple instead of the classic raisins, five spices instead of nutmeg and/or cinnamon.  Others suggest to use pecan over walnuts and so on.

Over the years, I have used myself several recipe variations . It has evolved to to what I dare to call my ultimate carrot cake recipeMy carrot cake is spiced up with cinnamon, cloves and freshly grated ginger. I love pairing cinnamon and cloves! they remind me of the oatmeal that both my grandmother and my mother made for me for breakfast when I was a little girl. The ginger brings an awesome kick to the palate that I also enjoy so much and I hope you will love it too.

In terms of fruits, I only use dry fruits: pecan and/or walnuts and I replace the raisins for extra carrots in the batter , for more texture.

You will notice the color of the cake itself is darker than other recipes. This is because I used a very brown granulated sugar from actual sugarcane, which is not very easy to find in the Netherlands, in here, most of the sugar comes from sugar beets.

Usually, I make carrot cake without any frosting, and when I choose to use it, I will go for a zesty cream cheese topping decorated with some nuts. The recipe of the frosting is also included here for you to make if that's your choice. It doesn't matter what you choose to do, I can assure you this cake is super yummy  either way !

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what combination of fruits and spices do/did you use?  -   add your comment in the below box thank you!  
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Category:
Servings: 1 yield(s)
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Total Time: 80 mins
    Cake Batter
  • 2 cup All purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup Vegetable oil (You may use sunflower, corn or canola oil)
  • 1 cup granulated brown sugar (I used one from sugar cane (see notes))
  • 1 cup caster sugar (See below notes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs (about 220 g)
  • 3 cup grated peeled carrots (about 350 g)
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts mix (I used a mix of pecan and walnuts)
  • extra nuts for decoration
  • Frosting
  • 300 g cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)
  • lemon zest to taste (you may also use lemon juice instead)
  • a pinch of salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Grease a 10-inch cake pan with cooking oil spray. You may also line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, as I did.
  2. The Batter
  3. In one bowl mix, flour baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt.
  4. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, sugar and vanilla extract until fully combined. Add the grated carrots into the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
  5. Add eggs to the second bowl , one by one, whisking until fully incorporated
  6. Using a spatula, combine the mix of dry ingredients with the one in the second large bowl. Do it in three batches, until all the ingredients are JUST combined. Do not overmix.
  7. Stir in the carrots, ginger and nuts. Again, do not overwork the mix.
  8. Baking and cooling
  9. Pour the cake batter into the greased 10-inch cake pan. Bake at 180 ºC (350°) for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake out dry and clean. Remove from the pan from the oven, place it on top of a wire rack, let the cake cool for about 20 min to later remove it from the pan and turn it into the wire rack to finish cooling.
  10. The frosting
  11. Beat the cream cheese until smooth by means of your stand mixer or a hand handle mixer, using the whisking tool. Add the butter and continue mixing for about 30 seconds-1 minute until well combined and smooth. Don't forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in the vanilla extract, powdered sugar,the pinch of salt and lemon juice and mix until fully combined.
  12. Once the cake is cooled, cover top and sides of the cake with the frosting. Use the extra nuts to decorate to taste.
Recipe Notes

  • Caster sugar is a refined white sugar that is commonly used for baking in the Netherlands, Australia and the UK. It is finer than granulated sugar and dissolves very easily. One can be used as a substitute  of the other in a 1:1 ratio.
  • About eggs sizes: Eggs sizes are not really standard, especially organic ones. I do prefer to indicate the weight in grams  for you to know exactly what amount I used
  • Yield and pan sizes: This recipe yields one layer cake in a 10-inch cake pan and enough frosting to top it. You could also make a double layered cake - filled in cake, for that,divide the batter into two  9-inch cake pans and bake for 35-40 min. You must double up the amount of ingredients for the frosting to cover and fill the cake in.
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