Spiced Carrot Loaf Cake

Sometimes I just can’t let go. One specific craving for a not-too-sweet carrot cake led me down a rabbit hole of recipes and whys. How could some recipes call for 11/2 cups of sugar while others call for half that? Is there really a difference in the end between butter and oil? Is that little bit of buttermilk really necessary when I’ll have a quart of the stuff left over? I wanted an everyday loaf that could be a breakfast, snack, or dessert… something I’d always have the ingredients to make.

I tried five different recipes, combined amounts from one with the techniques of another, looked to completely different recipes and adjusted again and again. Baking truly is mad science in this way—you can do a million different things to arrive at one simple cake, and you won’t quite know what you’ll get until you pull it out of the oven.

Quick breads and cakes (really anything out of a loaf pan) are great bakes for the single cook. They can hang at room temperature for a while without going stale. There’s no multi-dozen batch to stare you down. You can carve off as much or as little as you like and dress it up (a slather of butter or cream cheese or ricotta and chocolate chips). In the end, this carrot loaf (cake? Quick bread?) checked every box.

Really though, if you want to bake, bake. You don’t need an occasion or someone else to share it with. If it brings you joy and satisfies your sweet craving, that’s reason enough.


Spiced Carrot Loaf Cake

Warm-spiced and not too sweet, this carrot quick bread is a perfect quick breakfast, snack, or dessert. I like to leave off the glaze and dress up a slice with a slather of cream cheese or dollop of ricotta.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • Cooking spray
  • 2 large or 3 medium carrots
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • cup + 2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • cup plain Greek or regular yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • tsp ground nutmeg


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • Grate carrots on the large holes of a box grater to measure 11/2 cups. In a large bowl, stir together carrots, sugars, oil, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla until well combined.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg until well combined. Add flour mixture to carrot mixture and stir just until combined. Pour carrot mixture into prepared pan and bake at 350°F for 55-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes, then turn out and cool completely.