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I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to summer. I can already feel the chill of fall in the morning air. I’m starting to see Halloween and even Christmas decorations in the stores, and yet I can’t bring myself to embrace the flavour of pumpkin just yet. It’s just too soon.
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If you’re anything like me and are having difficulty accepting that summer’s over for the year, here’s a recipe that will help you ease into the cooler weathers without feeling like you’re being rushed.
This is my favourite carrot cake recipe that’s made in a loaf pan. I call it Carrot Cake Loaf. It’s like carrot cake but with a fluffier and loftier crumb. The flavour is much lighter than traditional carrot cake. Carrot cake is essentially a spice cake and has a heady scent of ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. This carrot cake loaf on the other hand, only contains a ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and no other spice, making it the perfect early fall treat.
The recipe is very easy. The hardest part of the recipe is grating the carrots and if you’re using a food processor, the grating becomes a breeze. With respect to making the loaf itself, it’s super simple. You mix the dry ingredients separately from the wet ingredients and then you combine the two by folding it gently with a spatula. You then pour the batter into a loaf pan and bake.
The loaf, without the cream cheese frosting, has the perfect amount of sweetness to make it an acceptable breakfast treat. It is moist, tender, and flavourful. The decadent cream cheese frosting adds sweetness and richness, turning this carrot loaf into an afternoon snack or dessert.
Despite it being easy, there are a few tips to help you turn this recipe into that 24-karat treat:
Finely grate your carrots
It may seem like a good idea to have small chunks of carrots in the loaf, but the reality is, large bits of carrots combined with the rest of the ingredients and the short baking time, doesn’t allow the carrots to fully cook and soften in the batter. As such, it is important to finely grate them. The primary purpose of carrots in the recipe is to add moisture. Texture is secondary. To grate carrots quickly, I recommend using a food processor set to the finest setting. If using a box grater, make sure you’re grating the carrots on the smallest holes.
Use oil instead of butter
While butter may add a rich buttery flavour, unfortunately, it creates a denser, drier loaf. Oil on the other hand, adds loft to the cake and helps it stay moist and tender, even days after baking. I recommend using Canola oil however, in a pinch a light tasting olive oil will work equally well.
Do not over mix
A cake with a heavy, gummy, and chewy consistency is often the result of an over mixed batter. To ensure that the ingredients are well combined without over mixing, I recommend mixing the dry and wet ingredients separately. In other words, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon together and set it aside. In a separate bowl, beat the sugars, oil, and eggs together until light and creamy before mixing in the carrots and walnuts. When the oven is ready, add the dry ingredients to the wet, and fold the mixture with a silicone spatula until no visible streaks of flour remain. Stop mixing immediately.
Line the pan with parchment paper
The easiest and most effective way of removing the carrot cake loaf from the pan is with the help of parchment paper acting as handles. You’ll need to tear off a piece of parchment paper that measures the inside length of the loaf pan but three times its width. Lightly spray the pan with cooking spray then place the parchment paper inside the pan with the excess paper hanging over the long sides of the pan. Add batter to the pan as usual. Once the loaf has cooled, hold each side of the parchment, and lift the loaf right out of the pan. Easy peasy.
Easy Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups (150g) grated carrots, well packed
1 cup (125g) walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped (optional)
Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz. (113g) cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp (30g) butter, softened
1 tsp clear vanilla extract
1-1/2 cup (188g) confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with enough parchment paper to overhang the long edges of the pan.
In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon together. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer or bowl and electric hand mixer, beat oil, sugar, and eggs together until light and creamy. Add grated carrots and walnuts and fold to combine.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Using a silicone spatula, fold the mixture until no streaks of flour are visible. Do not over mix.
Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out clean.
Place the loaf pan on a baking rack to cool for approximately 45 minutes. Remove the carrot loaf from pan by using the parchment paper overhang as handles.
Place loaf on a plate and allow it to cool completely. This may take up to 90 minutes. Once fully cooled, ice the carrot loaf with cream cheese frosting. Slice and serve. Enjoy!
Store any leftover carrot cake loaf in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Cream cheese frosting:
Add the softened cream cheese and butter to a stand mixer or bowl, if using an electric hand mixer. Beat on medium low speed until the mixture is light and creamy.
Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix on low speed until fully combined.
Add the vanilla extract.
Increase speed to medium and continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy.
Add a generous layer of cream cheese frosting to the fully cooled loaf, generously slathering all sides with frosting, except the bottom.
Store any leftover cream cheese frosting in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Makes 1 loaf
Karen Gordon is a food blogger from North Vancouver who shares her recipe creations online at karentology.com, on Instagram at @karen.t.ology, and on Pinterest @karentologyblog.