Carrot Cake with Lemon Frosting

Celebrate spring with a simple, not-too-sweet Carrot Cake with Lemon Frosting. 

Carrot Cake with Lemon Frosting

Cooking at my house means often multi-tasking and working in shifts. Whisk together flour and dry ingredients in the morning. Grate veggies during lunchtime. Frost cakes late at night, after everyone else is in bed.

I like it this way, the non-rush of the task. Being in the kitchen trying to get a project done as the rest of the family jostles for my attention doesn’t usually result in the most cohesive of recipes. When the house is quiet, and the only sound is my chopping, I can get focused. I like to think it’s “me” time, even though I’m cooking for the rest of the family to enjoy. But at the very least, it allows me to think while I work.

The other day I realized that Easter is soon approaching. It’s not that I really forgot — after all, I do freelance marketing for every single holiday — it’s more that I remembered we should do something for it. Sure, we do the egg hunt thing, but other than that, not much, especially because our families live so far away.

Carrot Cake with Lemon Frosting

It’s hard to remember sometimes that we are our own little family, and we have our own traditions to sow. Sometimes that means new pajamas on Christmas Eve, sometimes that means a family costume for Halloween. Sometimes that means making a cake for us to share.

I always try to make treats a little healthier, so this cake is chock-full of carrots, uses applesauce instead of oil or butter, and features mostly whole-wheat flour with the all-purpose flour. But don’t worry that this is one of those cakes you don’t want to eat — it’s lovely in texture and kid-approved.

Adding lemon zest to the frosting brightens it up, bringing the sunshine of the spring inside. You can leave it out, if you like, or try orange zest instead. I limited walnuts to the top rather than folding into the batter so the pickier eaters can avoid them (it also helps the cake bake up better).

Carrot Cake with Lemon Frosting

To make this carrot cake, I enlisted the help of one of my favorite kitchen tools, the Kitchen IQ Container Grater. I’m not kidding when I say I use this almost every day, thanks to the interchangeable blades and super convenient container. I love that I can use it for both shredding the carrots and zesting a lemon, and can also grate cheese for pizza, just by changing the blades and rinsing the box. The blades are super sharp (I’ve grated my fingers a few times…) so I know it will work easily for pretty much anything. Next on my list is making hashbrowns for breakfast!

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you to those who entered!

4.5 from 6 reviews
Carrot Cake with Lemon Frosting
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces neufchatel cheese, softened.
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Walnuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line 3 6-inch cake pans with parchment rounds (or use 2 8-inch cake pans).
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, applesauce, and sugar, then mix in carrots.
  3. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, then stir into carrot mixture until just moistened.
  4. Divide batter among cake pans (it will be thick). Tap bottoms on the counter to help it spread, or use a spatula to even out.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert cakes onto a wire rack and let cool before frosting.
  6. To frost, beat together neufchatel cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest until smooth. Frost cake and top with walnuts, if desired.
Notes
If you would like to make a 9-inch layer cake, simply double the recipe and add a few minutes to the baking time.

 

,

47 Responses to Carrot Cake with Lemon Frosting

  1. Jeffrey April 8, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    I actually like getting my yard and landscaping cleaned up and ready. Planting the garden is also one of my spring hobbies.

    [Reply]

  2. Mandy April 8, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    I bought very inexpensive cut-proof kevlar gloves for working with graters and mandolines. Totally saves my fingers! I also use them when cutting peppers, etc, to save my hands from heat and acids. I have nitrile-faced ones.

    [Reply]

  3. Kim April 8, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    going to opening day for the mets!

    [Reply]

  4. Margot C April 8, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    E all love the Easter Egg HUnt, it goes all through the house and then outside.

    [Reply]

  5. Christina April 8, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    My favorite Spring tradition is making a daffodil cake for my mom’s birthday on the first day of Spring.

    [Reply]

  6. Kelly D April 8, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    I like having Easter dinner at my house with family and having an Easter Egg hunt for the kids.

    [Reply]

  7. Mary B. April 8, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

    Oh boy, steaming an artichoke for our family to share leaf-by-leaf with a simple butter and lemon dipping sauce!

    [Reply]

  8. Wehaf April 8, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    I love planting my garden, dyeing easter eggs, and going to the farmer’s market!

    [Reply]

  9. LauriM April 8, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    Gardening, spring cleaning and all the Easter traditions.

    [Reply]

  10. Bethany April 8, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

    opening the windows!!

    [Reply]

  11. Mary Helen April 9, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    I love carrot cake! Besides ice cream cake, it’s my very favorite.

    [Reply]

  12. Nicole April 9, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    My favorite spring traditions are all about the food! I always make sure to eat tons and tons of strawberries, peas, asparagus, and artichokes. Eating them outside makes it even better!

    [Reply]

  13. Amanda April 10, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

    Planning our garden is our favorite tradition..second to bother the local farmers for what’s in store for the market.

    [Reply]

  14. Mad Betty April 10, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    Spring for me growing up was the few pretty weeks between the long, cold winter and beach season. My mom bought me a hyacinth every year for my bedroom because I love the smell so much.

    [Reply]

  15. Hector G. April 10, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

    I love going on a long bike ride when Spring arrives. I love a good breeze. Thank you for the giveaway!

    [Reply]

  16. Navah April 10, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

    I love taking the outdoor furniture outside, and lunching outdoors.

    [Reply]

  17. Kristin @ FoodFash April 10, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    I second opening up the windows!

    [Reply]

  18. Tessa McCoy April 10, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    The smell of fresh flowers!

    [Reply]

  19. kristina April 10, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    What a yummy treat to look forward too. I love the pic, it makes me feel all springy inside.

    [Reply]

  20. kristina April 10, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    Oops I forgot to mention what I love about Spring. Cleaning out the house and decorating with lots of clean white springy decorations. And lots of fresh spring veggies, they take the place of all those winter roots veggies.

    [Reply]

  21. Kimberly Ann April 10, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

    I got those cut proof gloves for Christmas! I’ve saved several knuckles and fingers.

    [Reply]

  22. ethan April 10, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    I’ll grate to get a slice of that cake!

    [Reply]

  23. Kimberly Ann April 10, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    As an only child I still get elaborate Easter baskets from my family. I love creating the same for Zach each year.

    [Reply]

  24. Amber April 11, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    I like planting new flowers, hanging the flag back up and just cleaning up the yard from the crappy winters :)

    [Reply]

  25. Aspen April 11, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

    Gorgeous cake! My favorite spring tradition is sight-seeing for wildflowers, especially when they pop up in unexpected places.

    [Reply]

  26. christy April 11, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    That cake looks “grate”. hahaha I crack myself up.

    [Reply]

  27. sa collins April 12, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    My favorite thing about spring is gardening. Thank you for the giveaway.

    [Reply]

  28. Ben April 12, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    Baseball!

    [Reply]

  29. Brandy April 13, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    Intense spring cleaning isn’t my favorite tradition…but enjoying a nice, fresh, house definitely is. Also, getting back out into nature with my husband and dog. Those first walks of the season are always the best.

    [Reply]

  30. Pat April 13, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    love opening the windows also!!!!!

    [Reply]

  31. Jasmine Torres April 13, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    I love gardening and all the pretty little desserts we make for Easter and mothers day

    [Reply]

  32. Maggie April 13, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    Spring tradition is getting Peeps from my Aunt

    [Reply]

  33. Brandi April 13, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    ♡ Carrot Cake and I bet the addition of the lemon is just enough to spring it up! !!

    [Reply]

  34. Erika Bastings April 13, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    I love riding my bicycle around and feeling the sun on my face during the not super hot time of spring :-)

    [Reply]

  35. Robin C. April 13, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

    My favorite Spring tradition is going to the Bronx Zoo after a long Winter, the baby animals have begun to be out and about and the temperature is just right, to spend an entire day there.

    [Reply]

  36. Lisa April 13, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

    Baking with fresh fruit!

    [Reply]

  37. Hope April 13, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

    My spring time favorites are baking with my daughter and working in our yard!

    [Reply]

  38. Deb P April 13, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

    Planting flowers!

    [Reply]

  39. Lehilina Marlow April 13, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    My favorite spring tradition is dying Easter eggs with our children and then having a little Easte egg hunt on Easter morning!

    [Reply]

  40. Vera T. April 13, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

    Spring- planting flowers!!

    [Reply]

  41. Anna Smith April 13, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

    I love it cause u can open the doors and air the house out, for a fresh clean smell.. then all of the pretty flowers blooming bring the pretty looks and the nice smell..just everything full of life..

    [Reply]

  42. Nashisha H April 14, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    I love cleaning out clutter, getting flowers in the ground and the fresh air!

    [Reply]

  43. Ursula Hurley April 14, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    I’m on vacation here in Florida, but when I return to Ireland next month, I certainly intend baking that gorgeous Carrot Cake of yours. Neufchâtel cheese is not a cheese I’m familiar with. Maybe we don’t have it in Ireland. Thank you for recipe.

    [Reply]

    Megan Reply:

    @Ursula, neufchâtel is a lighter version of cream cheese, so you can certainly swap it out for the standard cream cheese in the recipe, if that is available! Unfortunately, I’m not sure what else would be equivalent.

    [Reply]

  44. Samantha April 22, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    I love planting my garden seedlings that I’ve started indoors before the weather warms up.

    [Reply]

  45. Rachel April 28, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

    LOL, we don’t get ‘spring’ here in Thailand. Thais call the three seasons ‘hot, hotter and hottest’ and at our current temperatures of more than 104 degrees every day, we’re hoping this is the ‘hottest’ it’s going to get.

    The cake looks amazing, btw, and I’ll definitely be trying it.

    [Reply]

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Top 10 Healthier Cakes ... and Happy Birthday to Us! | Two Healthy Kitchens - April 18, 2014

    […] Carrot Cake with Lemon Frosting from Megan at Stetted […]

Leave a Reply

Rate this recipe: