A sign of spring: Carrots in your cake

Fran Sun

Boy, this winter is certainly hanging on, isn’t it? I can’t believe I got a winter weather advisory today for the weekend. It’s not fair! Have we not suffered enough?! Mind you, I’m sure I’ll complain about the heat in the summer too, but it will be really nice to let my toddler’s feet touch the grass without layers of sock and boot, and see him splash about in his little toddler pool in the backyard. I’ve been opening the windows at every tenuous opportunity. One very sad casualty of my optimism was a rosemary plant I’ve kept alive since summer of 2015 when I was given some cuttings by a friend. I put it out too early and it is not looking well at all. Worst plant parent ever! But still, spring is coming, I am sure it is, eventually.

I’ve written a lot about the more decadent treats in life. But as the weather starts to warm a little bit, I thought I’d lighten things up and make something that’s been in the back of my mind since a Facebook moms group I’m in devoted an entire thread to its splendor and versatility. It’s the Smitten Kitchen Carrot Cake with Cider and Olive Oil.

Making a cake with olive oil instead of butter makes it dairy free (it does for this one anyway), and though that’s not a requirement for anyone in my family, it’s nice to have one up my sleeve. It has eggs so it’s not vegan, but most vegans I’m sure would have a reliable egg replacement and I’d encourage them to give this a try.

It’s very easy. No stand mixer required. The hardest part is grating the carrots, and if you don’t mind the extra dishes you could use a food processor for that particular task, turning it into a job of seconds rather than minutes. Just go easy – you don’t want carrot mush, you want the pieces big enough to leave some texture.

The cider and spices give this a warm and cozy flavor, perfect for this still-cold weather while not being as heavy as the usual winter treats.

Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen (can you tell I love her?) warns strenuously against the danger of making a little batch of cream cheese/butter/confectioners sugar to dollop atop a slice of this cake while it’s still warm from the oven (or toaster!), and I think that’s a fair warning; it might be too delicious, and you may end up eating it forever. It’s delicious with no frosting too.

Carrot Cake with Olive Oil and Cider

(adapted barely from Smitten Kitchen)


  • 2 (290g) cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 (10g) teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, or roughly equivalent amount of fresh gratings
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup (145g) brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup cider (the kind you get in the fresh section of the grocery store)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups grated carrots (I used 3 medium-sized carrots – weight approx 255g whole)

Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan well (sprinkle a little flour too if your pan isn’t non-stick) and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, brown sugar, eggs, cider, vanilla extract, and carrots.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, mixing just until the flour has disappeared.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 60-70 minutes. Check with a skewer after 1 hour, remembering to get right to the bottom. If no unbaked batter sticks to the skewer, you can take it out. Let it rest in the pan for 20–30 minutes, then turn out and allow to cool on a wire rack. It’s lovely while still warm, but let it cool at least partially so it doesn’t fall apart.

It’ll keep a few days in a sealed container at room temperature and even longer in the fridge. Pop a slice in the toaster to revive it.

You could definitely substitute whole wheat flour if you wanted, and this would make it perfect for breakfast! Just use 1 cups instead of 2 cups, or whatever other substitution ratio works for you.

Fran Sun

Fran is a new stay at home mom who moved to Rutland from Australia in 2015.

More Posts

Follow Me: