Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 4 hours (includes cooling)
Yield: 1 loaf
Description This carrot cake loaf is dense, yet ultra soft and flavored with brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Serve plain or spruce it up with walnuts, raisins, pecans, and/or top with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
1 and 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil, canola oil, or melted coconut oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar* (see note)
1/3 cup (80g) unsweetened applesauce or yogurt, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups (200g) peeled and shredded carrots* (about 3 large carrots)
optional add-in: 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, raisins, or dried cranberries
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (Optional)
4 ounces (114g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. See notes for muffins or mini loaves.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg together in a large bowl until combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, brown sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and carrots together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently whisk until *just* combined. Fold in the nuts/add-in. Batter will be semi-thick.
Spread the batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 – 65 minutes. (I like to loosely cover the bread with aluminum foil halfway through to prevent heavy browning on top.) Baking times vary so keep an eye on yours. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out *mostly* clean with zero raw batter. Remove the bread from the oven.
Cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack before removing and frosting.
Optional Frosting: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt (I usually add a little less than 1/8 teaspoon), then beat on low speed until smooth and creamy. Taste. Add more cinnamon and/or salt if desired. Frost cooled bread, slice, and serve.
Storing without frosting: Cover and store leftover bread at room temperature for up to 3-4 days or in the refrigerator for up to about 10 days. Storing with frosting: Cover and store leftover bread in the refrigerator for up to about 1 week.
Freezing Instructions: Loaf freezes best without frosting. Freeze baked & cooled loaf for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. If desired, bring to room temperature and frost before serving. To learn more details about how to freeze quick breads, see my post called Make-Ahead Baking.
Brown Sugar: I tested this batter with different amounts of brown sugar. 1 cup (200g) of packed brown sugar produced a sweet cake-like loaf. 3/4 cup or 2/3 cup produced a lightly sweetened loaf. Any less than that produced a bland loaf. Feel free to use anywhere between 2/3 – 1 cup depending on the flavor you want. You can substitute with white granulated sugar or coconut sugar, though the loaf won’t be as moist or flavorful. I don’t recommend liquid sweeteners.
Applesauce/Yogurt: You can use either. If you don’t have either, use the same amount of mashed banana, crushed pineapple, or sour cream.
Carrot: Don’t use pre-shredded carrots found in the produce aisle. They’re on the dry side. Rather, freshly grate 3 large carrots to yield approximately 1 and 1/2 cups of moist carrot shreds. Instead of carrots, you can use shredded apple or even shredded zucchini.
Muffins: Prepare this batter as directed in step 2 and follow the baking instructions for morning glory muffins (steps 1 and 3). Makes about 14 muffins.
Mini Loaves: Grease a mini loaf pan. Prepare batter as directed in step 2. Spoon batter evenly into greased cups, filling to the top. Bake at 350°F (177°C). Bake time and yield depend on the size of your mini loaf pan.