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This adaptable carrot cake loaf is moist, full of warming spices, and topped with a mouthwatering, zesty citrus glaze. It's dairy-free, can be made gluten-free, and comes with heaps of substitution ideas.
I've admittedly never been the biggest carrot cake fan. I think it comes down to two main reasons: raisins (who decided these were ever a good idea in anything?) and the absurd amount of cream cheese frosting - a likely unpopular opinion, but frosting's just never really been my thing.
After recipe testing this carrot cake loaf three times, I had some realizations. Cream cheese frosting is still not the move but a citrus glaze really took it to new heights and made me a fan. Even after a third loaf in under two weeks, this 3.0 version has convinced me I could eat it again next week. You know, if I had to.
So... Is It Bread Or Cake?
This loaf is equal parts bread and cake which means it's the best of both worlds smashed into one loaf pan. And by smashed, I mean delicately poured in.
Cake for breakfast anyone?
But really, the best thing about this loaf-style cake is its versatility. Whether you're in the camp where carrot cake must be slathered with a heavy hand of cream cheese frosting, you like the addition of chopped nuts (or raisins - it's okay, we can still get along), you need to make it gluten-free or use up some things on hand, you easily can!
- All-purpose flour.
- Leavening agents: baking powder & baking soda.
- Spices: ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cardamom, kosher salt.
- Brown sugar.
- Olive oil - you can also use avocado oil or refined coconut (make sure it's in a liquid state).
- Unsweetened plain yogurt - either dairy-free or regular.
- Vanilla extract.
- Orange zest.
- Finely grated carrots.
- Powdered sugar.
- Lemon and orange zest.
- Lemon juice.
- Chopped pistachios. (optional)
How To Make Carrot Cake Loaf
Using a box grater, finely grate the peeled carrots.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cardamom, and salt.
In a medium bowl, "cream" together the brown sugar and oil.
Whisk in the eggs before mixing in the yogurt, orange zest, vanilla extract, and finely grated carrots.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together until just combined, making sure not to overmix.
Transfer the batter to a well-greased or parchment paper-lined 9x5 pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
When the loaf is nearly cool, whisk together the glaze ingredients and drizzle on top.
Substitutions & Variations
Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.
How can you make this carrot cake loaf using what you already have? Here are some ideas…
- Make it gluten-free - sub gluten-free 1:1 flour in place of the AP flour
- No brown sugar? - you can also use coconut sugar or organic cane sugar, the cake just won't be as moist. It's important to note that liquid sweeteners won't work in this recipe.
- No yogurt? - sub the same amount of unsweetened apple sauce, pumpkin puree, mashed banana, or sour cream.
- Make it vegan - I would either use 6 tablespoons of aquafaba or make 2 flax eggs - although I haven't done it with this recipe, I've previously used flax eggs in a similar loaf with success.
- No carrots? - you can also use grated zucchini or apple.
- Add-ins - chopped pecans, pistachios, walnuts, raisins, or dried cranberries.
For this carrot cake, you'll need some basic kitchen tools such as a whisk, box grater, vegetable peeler, silicone spatula, dry measuring cups, and spoons, mixing bowls, 9x5 loaf pan, and a microplane if opting for the citrus glaze.
Frequently Asked Questions
This would seem like a great way to speed things up, but store-bought shredded carrots are actually really dried out and have a hard texture. The moisture from the carrots helps to contribute to the moist texture of the cake. So to get the best results, finely grate your own carrots.
This happens when the batter gets overmixed. For this reason, I recommend folding the wet batter into the dry ingredients until just combined. This helps keep the loaf light and airy.
More Carrot Recipes
Carrot Cake Loaf With Zesty Citrus Glaze
Carrot Cake Loaf
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt if using another type only use ¼ teaspoon
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup olive oil (avocado or liquid coconut oil will also work)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup unsweetened dairy-free yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 ½ cups finely grated carrots from about 3 large carrots
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon each of orange and lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more to thin if needed
- chopped pistachios for topping, optional
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a 9x5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper (alternatively you can use oil or oil spray).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cardamom, and salt. In a medium bowl, "cream" together the brown sugar and oil. Whisk in the eggs before mixing in the yogurt, orange zest, vanilla extract and finely grated carrots.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together until just combined, making sure not to over mix them. Transfer the batter to your well-greased or parchment paper lined 9x5 pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour* (see notes) or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Let it cool in the pan for 20 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. When the loaf is nearly cool, whisk together the glaze ingredients and drizzle on top. Add chopped pistachios if desired.