This classic carrot cake has all the flavours you’ve come to love – earthy carrot, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves – but with the surprise addition of calming Earl Grey tea to the tangy cream cheese frosting. A sublime cake for any occasion!
Happy Mother’s Day!
Today I give you carrot cake. Not only is carrot cake one of my most favourite cakes on the planet (I know, I’m weird), but it also comes with a lot of personal reflection on this day.
Mother’s Day has always been a special occasion for my family. When I was small, we used to take my grandmother and mom out for a beautiful buffet brunch at one of the fancy restaurants in town. We would spend a few hours stuffing ourselves full of roast beef, ham, different varieties of salad, and my personal favourite, deviled eggs. (Yes, I realize I was a strange child. What kid eats six deviled eggs when there are waffles to be had?) But the part we all most looked forward to was the dessert round. Platters of tiny cakes, tarts, and fruit were picked over and eaten.
I remember my grandmother eyeing up two things as soon as we arrived: the lemon tarts and the carrot cake. She always made sure she had plenty of each. Even if that meant stealing my grandfather’s. Although mom usually went for the brownies, she always had a bite of carrot cake as well. This cake has been a favourite of the women in my family for many years, and I associate it with both of them.
Although I’m far away from home this Mother’s Day, I decided I would stick with tradition and create this classic carrot cake as an homage to both my grandmother and mother. This cake doesn’t have any extra bits. No raisins, no nuts, no pineapple. It’s not how we do things in my family. Carrot cake is strictly carrot. And LOTS of it. I chose to use Sally’s Baking Addiction’s recipe, but I did make a few minor adjustments to her recipe. Instead of using vegetable oil, I chose to substitute it for Greek yogurt and coconut oil, which makes the cake a little more dense but still moist and healthier. I also added almost a cup more carrot than her recipe calls for and left out the nuts.
The Earl Grey frosting is my own addition. My grandmother and mom always ice their carrot cake with cream cheese frosting – carrot cake can never be frosted with anything else. Fact. I chose to add a little Earl Grey tea to enhance the depth of flavours in the cake. It also symbolizes the way in which we always ate our cake together with a cup of hot tea.
My mother is a very special lady who deserves much more than a cake and a phone call on this celebratory day. But I hope she likes it nonetheless!
To all the moms who read my blog, thank you for everything you do, and I hope you are spoiled by your families today.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1½ cups brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2⅔ cups carrot, peeled and shredded
- 2 tsp loose leaf Earl Grey tea
- 340g cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 170g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ½ tbsp vanilla extract
- 5 cups confectioner's sugar
- Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F) and grease, line, and flour two 8" round cake pans. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices until well dispersed. Set aside.
- Add the sugars, yogurt and coconut oil to another large bowl and whisk until emulsified. Crack in the eggs and whisk again until combined. Stir in the vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together just until all the flour disappears. It's okay if there are a few lumps. Fold in the carrots with a rubber spatula.
- Fill the cake pans evenly up to ⅔ full. (You may have a little batter left over, but you do not want to over fill the pans. I used this batter to make three cupcakes afterward.) Bake the cakes for 25–30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10–12 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, pulverize the tea in a mortar and pestle or using a coffee grinder until it's a fine powder. Set aside. Using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat to combine. Sift and beat in the sugar, cup by cup, until the frosting is thick. Pour in the powdered tea and beat again until fully incorporated. Place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use.
- Choose one cake layer to be the bottom and the second to be the top. Place the bottom layer on a plate or cake stand and, using a palette knife, frost the top of the layer with a thick layer of frosting. Adhere the top layer to the frosting and repeat. You can then choose to use the remainder of the frosting to ice the sides of the cake or to leave it bare. This frosting recipe will frost the entire cake. I also topped my cake with some chopped pecans and walnuts as decoration, but this is purely optional.
Do you have any Mother’s Day traditions? How do you plan to spoil your mom?