Olive Oil Carrot Cake


I can’t remember the first time I had carrot cake, but I’m sure it wasn’t until I was well into my adult years.  It’s strange now that I think about it because my mother used to make a mean carrot salad.  The basic ingredients aren’t all that different except for the mayonnaise she’d dollop in the huge bowl of grated carrots and raisins before stirring in some sugar, and I’ll bet I can find more than one recipe for carrot cake that calls for mayo, too.  Mind you, this would be much to the complete horror of my husband who steers clear of anything that suggests mayo is an ingredient.

Other than cheesecake or an occasional pineapple upside down cake made in a skillet, my mother’s cakes came from a box, as did mine for years.  Can carrot cake actually be made from a box mix?  Perhaps that’s why I don’t remember ever tasting one.  I could blame it on family members more inclined to request chocolate cake:  chocolate peanut butter, German chocolate, and even a chocolate mint cake that unfortunately reminded more than one of us of toothpaste.  Sadly, there were no requests for carrot cake.

In the years since, I’ve learned that everyone seems to have made carrot cake but me and relies upon a favorite recipe.  I, on the other hand, have only made it twice:  the first time, I used a good friend’s recipe (sans the crushed pineapple she says she never adds) which was delicious;  the second time, I decided to look for a recipe that was made with olive oil.  Most of the recipes I’ve considered use from 3/4 to 1-1/2 cups of oil, so if  oil is going into a cake, why not make it monosaturated?

Perhaps it might soothe concerns about butter, mascarpone and sugar as one bites into this fabulously luscious cake.

Olive Oil Carrot Cake

Cake Ingredients

250ml/8-3/4 fl. oz. olive oil
500g/1 lb. + 1 oz. sugar
4 eggs, beaten
250g/8-3/4 oz. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. salt
125g/4-1/2oz. walnuts, coarsely chopped
250 g./8-3/4 oz. raisins
500g/1 lb.+1 oz. carrots, peeled and grated

Icing Ingredients

125 g./4-1/2 oz. unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
250 g./8-3/4 oz. mascarpone
250g/8-3/4 oz. powdered sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.

  2. Pour olive oil, sugar and eggs in a medium bowl and blend well. Sift flour and remaining dry ingredients into a separate bowl. Add egg and oil mixture and stir until the mixture is uniformly moist. Add the walnuts, carrots, and raisins, stirring until incorporated.

  3. Line two 8-in. cake pans with removable bottoms with baking parchment.  Spray with oil, then lightly dust with flour. Divide cake batter evenly between the two prepared pans and set on a baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center is removed clean.  Allow to cool at least 15 minutes in the pans on a baking rack before removing the layers from the pans to cool completely.

  4. For the icing, mix the softened butter and mascarpone with the vanilla in the bowl of a standing mixer until smooth.  Add powdered sugar gradually, beating on medium speed until smooth and creamy.  Spread each layer with half the icing before stacking layers. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Recipe Notes:

  • This is a very dense, moist cake with lots and lots of yummy texture.  A little slice will go a very long way in satisfying a sweet tooth.
  • This recipe was adapted from one I found at BBC — Food and it forced me to use my kitchen scale.
  • With a bit more than a cup of oil, this recipe’s quantity is average compared to others I looked at.   Make sure to use a good quality olive oil.
  • The center of the cake will sink as it cools.
  • Check out the link if you’d like a larger, single layer cake.
  • Now, I’m off to find a version that uses applesauce.  I’ve heard that creates a nice, moist carrot cake as well.

Carrot Cake

34 thoughts on “Olive Oil Carrot Cake

  1. Oh my gosh! Don’t fret. I haven’t made carrot cake either and it’s my husband’s favorite cake! First obstacle was I didn’t have a food processor to grate my carrots, and wasn’t about to sit there and hand-grate. But now that I bought one, there shouldn’t be any more excuse! I also have found our favorite cream cheese frosting recipe that is used for Nigella’s Guinness Chocolate cake. I just have to muster the courage and get to bake the darn thing!
    .-= oakley´s last blog ..Questionable Easter Menu =-.

    1. You’re going to laugh, but I did hand grate my carrots. My knuckles survived this time, thankfully, which is more than I can say most of the time I get out the Microplane grater. That thing is scary. I say go to it and get that cake baked! Your hubs will be forever thankful.

  2. We’re just about to yank the last of the carrots from the vegetable box. We’ve done almost everything, from eat them raw to roast them with a chicken… might have to finish them off in a carrot cake. And I think I like this recipe. Will let you know how that goes! [K]
    .-= Kim at Rustic Garden Bistro´s last blog ..Scott’s Seafood, At Home =-.

    1. How great to have your own fresh from the garden. The closest I’ve been to growing a carrot is a kitchen window sill where tops of carrots sat in a saucer of water, sprouting greens once again.

  3. Carrot cake makes me drool. My favorite recipe uses canned pineapple, which helps to give the cake moisture… but, I’m looking at these pictures and thinking maybe olive oil should be my new secret weapon 🙂 It’s gorgeous, Kelly. I especially like the little swirlies in the frosting. So gorgeous.
    .-= lo´s last blog ..Family Recipe Revival: Chocolate Cookbook Giveaway =-.

    1. It was good enough for us to have a piece (or two…) and then hustle it out the door to share with others at work. It disappeared fairly quickly 🙂

    1. I know — I thought it was strange myself. The batter is super wet and has an interesting consistency. The carrots, nuts, and raisins fill it out quite a bit. Like I said — a little bit goes a long way!

  4. there is indeed a boxed carrot cake mix, but it doesn’t even begin to compare to one made from scratch. no surprise there, right?
    this is an interesting recipe, and i like it. ‘moist’ isn’t quite the right word to describe it…i’m thinking ‘wet’ is more appropriate. to put it succinctly, awesome. 🙂

    1. I love my scale! I think the greatest thing about it is being able to zero out the container holding the ingredients. Seriously cool! Have fun with yours, and if you try the cake, let me know how it goes.

  5. I have been experimenting with olive oil cakes lately with orange, lemon poppy seed and zucchini. It occured to me that in the past I always used olive oil in my carrot cakes because for a while that is all you would have found in my cupboards. Very interesting as well as delicious!!!!

    1. Val, I missed the zucchini my first read here. Did you combine all three flavors? I, too, pretty much use only olive oil, but have gotten into the habit of keeping some canola around.

  6. I have never made carrot cake and the only time I get to eat it is when we are out. Hubby hates carrots???!!! Also I love cakes that fall in the middle. More frosting to cover up that dent is a very good thing…

    Love this and may just make it for my birthday…all mine!
    .-= Judy´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday =-.

    1. I’m thinking a cupcake version would be perfect for this recipe. Just think, you can freeze them and enjoy them a few at a time, right? Does your husband like zucchini? I’ve been wondering if you could substitute that for the carrots. I like zucchini bread, but is there such a thing as zucchini cake?

      1. Why not make it zucchini cake? I’ve made some delicious chocolate zucchini cakes. The zucchini makes them really moist. It isn’t as sweet as carrots, but this recipe isn’t exactly short on sugar. Zucchini has a higher water content than carrots, though, so you may want to take that into account when you start playing around with recipe.
        .-= mitzimi @ the-ice-cream-maker.com´s last blog ..Coffee Ice Cream Recipes: French Custard and Philadelphia Style =-.

  7. Any cake with olive oil and you’ve got my attention! I have made orange olive oil cakes but not carrot cake; which is going to be my next endeavor, thanks to you!

    1. I use good quality extra virgin olive oil. It’s light and fruity in my opinion, and I much prefer the taste over vegetable oil, for example, which is often used in muffins and other cake recipes for “moistness.” The flavors in the cake are predominantly of spice. I hope that helps!

  8. Seems like 500 gr of sugar is too much for 250 gr AP flour ? also 250 ml of oil for 250 grAPflour?
    I normally use 200 gr of sugar with 250 gr AP flour and 150 ml oil added at very last to the batter.

    1. Ben, it’s been quite a while since I made this cake — it was a recipe I got from BBC Food, so the quantities are not my idea. If I remember, it was quite sweet. But it was moist as well — on the dense side. I think with respect to carrot cake there are so many variations to suit our personal tastes, it’s good to find one that works. As I mentioned, I’d like to find a good recipe using applesauce as I don’t like a lot of oil in my cake recipes. Thank you for your feedback!

Comments are closed.