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Wouldn't carrot cake be at least as good or even better without carrots... discuss.

I have no use for carrots and wonder why people ruin a perfectly good spice cake by adding carrots.

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  1. I think they add both texture and a flavor that nothing else has. Of course, there's nothing wrong with spice cake.

    1. Hummingbird cake strikes me as being rather like carrot cake without the carrots. No hummingbirds are used either, BTW.

      3 Replies
        1. re: Low Country Jon

          I hate it when their beaks get caught in the roof of my mouth...

        2. Try cooking and mashing the carrots first - it makes a much more delicious cake (it has a bit more substantial texture than just spice cake, and sweeter). But I love just spice cake, too!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Claudette

            That version just sounds like it should be pumpkin cake to me :)

          2. Here is a clue... eat spice cake if you like spice cake and leave the carrot cake to us "wabbits"

            1. Texture and taste make carrot cake better than a spice cake. I'd add zucchini in place of carrot if it were removed.

              5 Replies
              1. re: pescatarian

                I make a muffin with a combination of carrot and zucchini (pineapple and coconut also go in there), I prefer it to either veg on their own.

                1. re: julesrules

                  Hey julesrules- do you think you could post that recipe on the Home Cooking board?

                  1. re: Katie Nell

                    It's an adapted Morning Glory recipe from Allrecipes, think I've posted it before.

                  2. re: julesrules

                    I love it mixed too - especially the coconut - love the coconut.

                2. I love spice cake. It's particularly good with carrots in it. :-)

                  Your personal tastes, of course, are fine for you. But clearly many, many people like carrot cake.

                  1. One needs carrot cake to carry the yummy Cream Cheese Frosting, why else?

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: Quine

                      I think I must be the only person who hates the frosting. I can never have storebought carrot cake because it's always slathering with that stuff.

                      1. re: piccola

                        you thought wrong!!!!! I hate the frosting and so does my wife.

                        1. re: mimolette

                          mine loves the frosting and leaves the cake for me. A match made in heaven.

                        2. re: piccola

                          no piccola, you're not alone! They are way too sweet for me as well. They always put too much for my liking also. And they leave a greasy residue on the roof of my mouth. Which is probably the lard or shortening or whatever they use.

                          1. re: chef chicklet

                            I think cream cheese frosting has gotten so popular on this cake and so many others because it's so easy. No way to screw it up - even for a beginner - because it requires no skill. But it's too sweet and heavy and overwhelms so many baked goods.

                            1. re: MakingSense

                              there *are* versions of cream cheese frosting that aren't too sweet and too heavy . . .

                              1. re: pitu

                                How? It's whipped cream cheese. Joy of Cooking cautions that if you overbeat it, it "breaks down the cream cheese, and produces grainy looking frosting that is too soft to hold a shape," so you can't just lighten it by beating air into it.
                                You can only lighten it somewhat by adding butter to it because you can whip butter more but then you get away from cream cheese and it's almost as heavy and rich.
                                Cream cheese icing is always going to be heavier than icings with more air in them like meringue or butter based ones.

                                You can vary the amount of sugar but you can do that with any icing.

                                This could be one of those "As compared to what?" cases as so few people make other icings much any longer. CC icing is so easy and foolproof that it's become the standard in homemade icing since the 80s in the US. The others aren't as well known so they aren't appreciated.

                                1. re: MakingSense

                                  The one I've made is butter and cream cheese and not a lot of sugar . . . it's rather thin and not crazy sweet.
                                  I've had great bakery carrot cakes that have the thick version, but still brilliant (not tooth-hurting sweeeeet)

                                  so, yes, I'm sure it can be done, in a variety of ways
                                  here's a link

                                  1. re: pitu

                                    It probably comes down to individual taste. If you grew up with cream cheese, that icing won't seem heavy to you. It will, if your point of reference is the European Swiss or Italian meringues or traditional buttercreams, 7-minute icings or simple glazes, all of which are lighter.

                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                      I grew up with traditional buttercreams and a variety of Italian things, but that's not the point. Does it matter that I had mostly pie as a child?
                                      : )
                                      What I'm pointing out is that there are DIFFERENT KINDS of cream cheese frosting. The one in the link I provided is an old fashioned boiled custard frosting, made with half cream cheese and half butter -- very different from what you referenced.

                                      1. re: pitu

                                        A similar "boiled custard" frosting is a common one on the South that I've used since the '60s that was among my mother's favorites. It dates back to at least the Depression era and can be made with margarine or Crisco, instead of butter. It's a terrific icing and one of my family's favorites. I've never made it with cream cheese.
                                        As I've said, this is likely a matter of taste. Cream cheese is heavier than I personally prefer for the cakes that I make and I don't think the flavor adds anything to them.
                                        For those who like the texture and flavor of cream cheese, this recipe may provide a way to incorporate it into a frosting while lightening the final product. I'm glad this works for you. You should repost the recipe for others so they don't have to follow so many links.

                                2. re: pitu

                                  I just don't like icing, period. They all taste too sweet/dense to me. The only acceptable - no, make that actually tasty - option would be to put plain cream cheese on carrot cake. Preferably toasted cake, so it's slightly crunchy and warm.

                            2. re: piccola

                              I don't like carrot cake. I also don't like zuchinni cake or any of the things people do that spoil good vegetables and turn them into mediocre cake. I also don't like the frosting because it's too sweet, and I think the whole thing falls into a category that around my house we call "vehicle food." Like indifferent pancakes that are really just a vehicle for syrup. I especially hate it when people serve carrot cake at weddings. Yuck.

                          2. You know, I really don't like plain old spice cake, but I love carrot cake! (Hold the raisins, please.) Gotta have cream cheese frosting, of course. My girlfriend made these amazingly moist carrot cake cupcakes for my birthday. Really great, with really good cream cheese frosting. I cracked up when she told me the secret ingredient for keeping it moist: 3 little jars of carrot *baby food*! LOL And a lot less actual shredded carrot than a usual recipe. I dunno where she found that recipe, but it was in fact quite good.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: CrazyOne

                              I agree on hold the raisins. I can take the cream cheese frosting, but also enjoy it without frosting.

                            2. make a 'carrot' cake using parsnips! Actually it's very good.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: smartie

                                Wow! That sounds great. I developed an (stupid! stupid!) allergy to carrots a few years ago, and I miss carrot cake.

                                1. re: manraysky

                                  I would think you would be allergic to parsnips as well as they are closely related...don't mean to burst your bubble, but you might want to be careful with everything in the carrot family, which I believe includes herbs like dill...I have a friend who is allergic to everything in the carrot family and the rose family and that covers a LOT of stuff...I'm not really sure what she CAN eat!

                                  1. re: prunefeet

                                    My allergy is to beta carotene, not carrots. I can't eat, or touch, raw carrots without getting hives. But parsnips don't cause that reaction.

                                    1. re: manraysky

                                      Not sure if this works for your allergy, but I've subbed grated raw pumpkin, squash, or sweet potato for the carrot before.

                              2. thats what i call the joy of cooking, when everyone has a special taste of something
                                because for carrot cake, you can put raisins,nuts, pineapple all those things but for me
                                if it dose`nt have the cream cheese frosting, I just as soon pass it up.. thats just like
                                having a choclate cake without the chocolate frosting.

                                1. I agree, the carrots get in the way of the yummy moist spice cake. And raisins also get in the way. Sometimes you just have to have something sweet but when you go to the store bakery all they have is carrot cake. So I give in and always say "this would be so much better without the carrots and raisins." I say this as I am finishing off the slice.

                                  1. I don't like carrot cake. I especially hate it when it's served as wedding cake. It's so disappointing. I think it's really just an excuse for cream cheese frosting. I'm much happier with chocolate cake, maybe with mocha butter cream icing and rasberry filling. Or marzipan and whipped cream. Princess cake. Much better than carrots. I don't need vegetables in cake, much prefer them in my soup. But people seem to love carrot cake . . . I guess it's just a question of personal taste.

                                    1. I'll have to try mashing the carrots; I don't mind the flavor with the carrots, but I sometimes get irritated by giant shards of the shredded carrots. I also prefer if they leave out the nuts and raisins. I am, nonetheless, a very big fan of cream cheese frosting; I could eat it with or without cake frankly...

                                      I have a similar feeling, however, for pecan pie. I wish I could make pecan pie without the nuts... Love the goo, love the crust, but can't stand and always pick off the nuts. Anyone ever try to make a pecan pie sans the nuts? Also, does anyone have a great pecan pie recipe from which I can omit the nuts??


                                      15 Replies
                                      1. re: Emme

                                        In quebec they make something called sugar pie that is supposed to taste like pecan pie without the pecans. You can google a recipe.

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          Thanks... I did come across these recipes, but the ingredients don't seem to be the same as pecan pie, at least not the ones I've found.

                                          I'm really wondering what CHers think would happen if I didn't include the nuts. I can't think of the chemistry problems that would result... Just like I really don't understand why those pesky nuts are necessary for the tunnel of fudge cake recipe, the one that threatens utter recipe failure if you omit the nuts... Thoughts?

                                          1. re: Emme

                                            There's also butter tarts (English Canadian, similar to but distinct from sugar pie). Recipes seem to have more brown sugar and butter, and less corn syrup than pecan pie, but they don't have milk or cream like sugar pie does. Can omit raisins/nuts ( I love pecan pie but I don't think nuts belong in butter tarts, that just makes them substandard pecan pie - because people generally use crappy little nut bits...)

                                            1. re: Emme

                                              In the south, a pecan pie without pecans is a chess pie. To be precise, there are many variations of chess pie--pecan pie is arguably one, and of course, there is the ever popular chocolate chess pie--but the basic recipe for chess pie is just like pecan pie without the nuts.

                                              1. re: Low Country Jon

                                                There are so many variations on chess pie that in all my searching I haven't yet found one that really looks like Pecan Pie w/o the pecans... If anyone can direct me, that would be grand. I seem to find few w/ corn syrup, some w/ cornmeal, and then others w/ pecans or walnuts...

                                            2. re: rworange

                                              Would that be close to a "Taffy Tart" RW? (it is brown sugar based)

                                            3. re: Emme

                                              I remember Shoo Fly Pie being like that, except now that I google it they put crumbs on top. Maybe you'd like crumbs more than nuts?

                                              1. re: coll

                                                I also have often heard Shoo Fly Pie being described as "pecan pie minus the nuts." Even if that isn't literally true recipe-wise (and I haven't checked, but I trust Coll), maybe it is true taste-wise? Still might be worth a try for Emme!

                                                1. re: charmedgirl

                                                  Shoo fly pie, now that's something I wanted to start a thread about. Saw a recipe recently with molasses (a flavour I've been interested in lately) and whole wheat flour in the crumbs. Hmm.

                                              2. re: Emme

                                                Maybe we should share a piece of pecan pie. I always think they have too much goo in relationship to pecans. I used to find pies that seemed full of nuts. Now there always seems to be thick layer of goo upon which pecans rest.

                                                Maybe you should take a good pecan pie recipe, leave out the pecans, give it a test, and report back to us. At least you'd be omitting the most expensive ingredient for this experiment!

                                                1. re: debbiel

                                                  I think this is a result of bakeries realizing how much cheaper the goo is than the nuts. Agreed, much much better with a lot of nuts and the goo is just a binder. Although I like the goo in butter tarts, pecan pie should be about the pecans (which also need to be toasted prior to baking to bring out their flavour and soften them a little- some places don't get that)

                                                  1. re: debbiel

                                                    i think I just must have to... Any good recipes that CH-ers love?

                                                  2. re: Emme

                                                    If you are fan of cream cheese frosting but not a big fan of carrot cake, you should try banana cake instead!

                                                    1. re: DanaB

                                                      *Cringe* Bananas are one of my three most hated foods... Go figure.

                                                    2. re: Emme

                                                      I have used a recipe by Paula Deen for carrot cake that uses strained baby food carrots. I made this for a family cookout and everyone loved it. If interested I can look up the recipe and let you know...

                                                    3. Emme, find a recipe for treacle tart - a very English thing.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: smartie

                                                        I grew up w/ British parents, and I've had many a treacle and custard tart, but they aren't in any way like pecan pie without the pecans...

                                                      2. how about using beets? They are naturally sweet and would impart a lovely nice color to the cake perhaps in the end turning your cake into a spiced velvet cake

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: bitsubeats

                                                          Beets are great as a subsititute. Jamie Oliver has a great recipe. I'll post it on the home cooking side if you want.

                                                        2. I actually love both spice cake and carrot cake. Personally I think they're quite distinct. I've never seen spice cake for sale anywhere so I can only really compare my homemade versions and it's generally a spice-flavoured butter cake, totally different from carrot cake made with oil.

                                                          1. I LOVE carrot cake, without the disgusting cream cheese frosting. I have it every year for my birthday. Some of my friends don't like it, so more for me. :)

                                                            1. I'm not a huge dessert eater but once in a while i really enjoy carrot cake with raisins nuts and a small amount of the cream cheese frosting (and a tall glass of cold milk) IMO plain old spice cake can be boring.

                                                              1. What kind of frosting do you folks have on your spice cake. I recall generic "white frosting", cream cheese frosting, and a horrid, sickly sweet brown sugar and maple frosting from my childhood.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: debbiel

                                                                  I like a good cream cheese frosting on carrot cake, preferably with lemon or orange zest in the frosting, but my mom puts an orange glaze on carrot cake, which is also good. On spice cakes, I tend to like no frosting at all, or a dusting of powdered sugar, or to serve it with a little lemon curd.

                                                                  I know there are a number of people here who dislike Cook's Illustrated recipes, but I think that the CI carrot cake recipe (March 2003) is excellent -- moist and nicely spiced. I first made it for a birthday party 3 years ago and it continues to be requested each year.

                                                                2. A major reason carrot cake is so popular is that it's presumed to be healthier than just flour, eggs and sugar.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: mpalmer6c

                                                                    Do you really think so? I've never heard anyone say they think it is healthy.

                                                                    1. re: julesrules

                                                                      Personally, I think the impression is that it's healthy. Myself and others too.

                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                        It technically is healthier than the same cake without the veggies, because you get the fiber and vitamins from the carrots. But it's not any less fattening than any other cake.

                                                                    2. re: mpalmer6c

                                                                      Carrot cake first became widely popular in America during the '60s and '70 in health food stores and sort of hippie places before gaining wide acceptance. It was considered good for you because it had so much fibre in it.
                                                                      Before then, cream cheese frostings weren't commonly included in recipe books, including Joy of Cooking, other than in small quantities almost as a glaze.

                                                                    3. Joyce Goldstein of Square One Restaurant fame had the following words of wisdom preceeding her recipe for carrot cake: "...you must use the sweetest, most flavorful organic carrots -- not starchy giants. Otherwise this cake will be a big 'so what.'"

                                                                      I'm sure that command applies to any carrot cake recipe.

                                                                      1. parsnips are supposed to be a good sub - not for the OP who wants spice cake, but for the rest of you refined folks

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: pitu

                                                                          I can confirm this. It adds a little bit of a gingery taste - I usually emphasize it by adding powdered ginger, too.

                                                                        2. Then don't eat carrot cake. I feel that way about onions, so I don't order the french onion soup. There's lots of other soup (and cake) in the world.

                                                                          1. i think the carrots keep the cake moist over time whereas a spice cake will be drier and turn stale faster. i like the texture and i think that's what makes it distinct from all flour cakes. my carrot cakes are generous with the carrots so i suppose if your recipe was light on the carrots it wouldn't be much of a stretch...

                                                                            1. I've frequently said, and always thought, that when God made carrots, he only had carrot cake in mind. That being said, I guess I'm a sucker for 'vehicle' food. I remember with fondness tomato soup cake (basically a nice spice cake), banana bread, zucchini bread, and even made and successfully served a chocolate sauerkraut cake. And yes, I do think the carrots, bananas, zucchini and sauerkraut are good for you, especially if you won't eat them any other way. It makes a difference if the carrots are fine grated rather than coarse, though.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: MobyRichard

                                                                                Have you ever tried chocolate-beet cake? Another vehicle food to add to your repertoire. :-)

                                                                              2. I was disappointed to notice that Betty Crocker's Carrot Cake mix now only contains "carrot-flavored pieces". That's not healthy, and I refuse to support that sort of crime. My wife's favorite cake is carrot cake, so I have to bake her one at least once a year. She's likes hers fully loaded with pineapple, raisins, coconut, pecans, and a double layer of cream cheese icing. And really, without carrots, it's no longer carrot cake.

                                                                                1. I am going to answer the question posed rather simply. NO.

                                                                                  You might certainly have a good cake without carrots, but it would not be carrot cake.

                                                                                  1. No,

                                                                                    It wouldnt be a carrot cake without adding carrots, just a spice cake.

                                                                                    1. it's not carrot cake without carrots u can't have carrot cake then u just have cake and who wants just cake

                                                                                      1. To me it adds textural contrast and has a natural sweetness.

                                                                                        1. My mother made a steamed carrot pudding one Christmas- it was delicious, like a light-textured carrot cake, and not as stodgy as regular plum pudding. No cream-cheese icing. She served slices in shallow bowls (fruit nappies) and poured over it creme anglaise flavoured with cointreau.

                                                                                          1. I once heard,or read, maybe saw on tv, i cant remember that the original carrot cake was a bit of a joke, saying it was "healthy", never mind all the sugar,creamcheese,etc, either way i love a good carrot cake

                                                                                            1. Carrot cake is wonderful! What gets me is when they ruin a perfectly good carrot cake by putting PINEAPPLE in it. Ick.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                Why not? I put pineapple in my carrot cake in place of raisins. I find that raisins are just out of place in any cake plus many people dislike them. The canned pineapple I use basically disappears into the cake and just gives it a subtle flavor, letting the carrot and spices take front stage.

                                                                                                1. re: Agent Orange

                                                                                                  i love both the pineapple, in the cake, and icing, also like the raisins in the cake...guess i'm a bit of a human garbage can...lol