Stop everything and get yourself to the store because this epic carrot loaf with cream cheese frosting (obvious choice, but necessary) deserves a spot on your table today. Like, right now.
I meant to share this recipe while we were in Paris, but somehow it never crossed my mind that carting 3 young kids around a large city for hours on end would leave me utterly exhausted. I was useless and unable to do much more in the evenings than drink a glass of wine and reminisce on the day’s excursions.
Parents everywhere are rolling their eyes and laughing at me. I know, duh. This is so obvious in retrospect. Who gets work done while on vacation with children?! Hindsight, 20-20, or so the saying goes.
Again with the eye rolling!
Fact: there are a million different carrot cake and loaf recipes, but this is the best one I’ve ever made. A bold statement, but one I firmly stand behind. I was first served something similar for breakfast probably 6 or 7 years ago at a B&B in Cape Cod. Between the carrot loaf and the coffee laced with cinnamon, I was in breakfast heaven. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to develop a similar recipe. This is the first attempt that has blown me away. I’m not changing a thing.
Two words: crushed walnuts. Carrots and walnuts are a well known match, but when you turn the walnuts into a powder and treat them like flour, it’s a game changer. The whole loaf has a warm, nutty flavor without the texture of biting into whole nuts. And the way it affects the crust? It’s got an intense texture all it’s own. I want to say it’s crunchy, but not like biting into a piece of toast. More that it keeps the inside extremely moist. And confession, the crust is my favorite part.
So apologies to all my family members celebrating Passover beginning this evening — obviously this is not gonna be the star of your Pesach seder — but to everyone else MAKE THIS IMMEDIATELY and live your best life.
Carrot loaf with cream cheese frosting
- A standard loaf pan
For the carrot loaf
- 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour + 1 Tbsp
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ heaping cup walnuts finely ground (see instructions)
- ⅓ cup raisins
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 3 extra large eggs room temperature
- 1 ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups carrots grated
For the cream cheese frosting
- 8 oz cream cheese regular or reduced fat
- 8 Tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- generous pinch of kosher salt
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar SIFTED (very important!)
To make the carrot loaf
- Preheat oven to 375 F and place rack in the middle of the oven. Spray a loaf pan with baking spray and set aside.
- Sift together 1 ⅓ cups flour, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, then set aside.
- To grind walnuts, either place in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until a fine powder or place in a sealed Ziplock bag and smash with a rolling pin. Place crushed walnuts in a small bowl with raisins, then toss with 1 Tbsp of flour and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat the brown sugar and eggs together on medium speed until very shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes. With the mixer still running, slowly drizzle in canola oil and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed.
- Carefully fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Add nuts, raisins, and carrots, then fold once more until evenly distributed.
- Pour into prepared loaf pan, then bake for 60-70 minutes, or until evenly browned and a cake tester inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean with few crumbs.
- Place pan on a cooling rack and let sit for 10 minutes, then remove loaf from pan (it should release easily when turned over) and place on the rack to cool completely.
To make the cream cheese frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) beat cream cheese and butter on high until very smooth and completely blended, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and salt, then reduce speed to low and SLOWLY add sifted sugar. Continue to beat until sugar is incorporated and frosting is creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Spread frosting on top of cooled carrot loaf, then slice and enjoy!