I want to preface this post by saying that I originally did not plan on sharing an Easter recipe this year, mainly because I shared an entire brunch a few years ago and some intricate cupcakes last year, and for some reason this time around, I just wasn’t inspired by anything. Then when I had lost all hope, I came across this recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine at my mom’s house. What drew me to it the most, wasn’t how adorable it is because obviously it is, but it was how simple the recipe is. I know know, it might look difficult but really it’s not hard at all. I love that it’s a single layer cake recipe and doesn’t involve decorating with piping bags or fancy decorating tips. You don’t even need a mixer at all. You can make this completely by hand. That’s always a plus in my book. It’s all completely edible which is another great aspect of the recipe. The carrots on top are made of marzipan that comes ready made from the store. All you have to do is tint it orange and shape them into tiny carrots. It’s a lot easier than you might think. I’m not a cake decorator at all, so I always say that if I can do it, you definitely can as well. It’s the perfect cake to add to your Easter brunch or dinner table. You don’t want to miss out!
Let’s start by mixing the dry ingredients together. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
**Note: The best part about any carrot cake are the spices found in the batter. This one has cinnamon, nutmeg and all-spice but feel free to play around with the spices. Cardamom, ginger and cloves would be great as well!**
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth and well-combined.
Add the eggs and whisk rapidly to ensure that the mixture is completely smooth and the eggs are well incorporated.
Whisk in the carrots and zucchini. It’s just one medium carrot, that you want to peel and finely grate with the smooth grater side of your box grater. You’ll also need one small zucchini, finely grated as well.
**Tip: I feel like this cake is better when the carrot and zucchini are finely grated because it distributes their flavor more evenly throughout the cake, and I feel like it makes it a lot more moist.**
Add the dry ingredients and fold into the batter with a rubber spatula. You don’t want to over-mix the batter at this stage because if you do, you’ll end up with a dry tough cake crumb and that’s not what you want.
Pour the batter into a well-greased and floured 9-inch round cake pan. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, before removing it from the pan and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the cake has cooled completely, let’s work on that frosting. This is a honey cream cheese frosting that really takes it over the edge. Beat together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the honey, powdered sugar and salt and mix until smooth. Add the milk and stir once more. Transfer the cake onto a cake plate or stand, and then frost the top with that delicious frosting.
Tint the marzipan with orange gel food coloring and knead by hand until it’s evenly colored. Divide into 7 or 8 even pieces and then shape into small carrots. Use a toothpick to create “lines” on each carrot. Place a small sprig of mint on the top of each carrot.
**Tip: Whenever I need food coloring for anything I always use gel instead of the liquid kind because the liquid adds too much moisture to things and also the gel coloring is much stronger in color so you don’t need to use that much.**
Sprinkle the top of the cake with chopped pistachios. This will resemble “dirt” or “rocks” in a garden. Then place the carrots into the frosting and cake.
**Note: There’s no right or wrong way to place the carrots on top. You can place one or two laid across and then stick the rest into the cake so it looks like the carrots are growing up.**
The carrots on top are optional. If you don’t have marzipan or just don’t feel like making the carrots, you don’t have to at all. Just frost the cake and sprinkle with pistachios and you’re good to go. The cake is great just by itself, I promise.
The longer the cake sits, the higher chance that the mint will start to wilt. So please keep that in mind. You can make the carrots and cake ahead of time, and then just place the mint on the carrots and the carrots on the cake, right before you plan on cutting and serving it.
If you don’t plan on decorating the cakes with the carrots, you’ll want to cut the frosting recipe in half because you won’t need as much since the carrots won’t be inserted on top.
This is a great cake to make this Easter Sunday for all of your brunch or dinner plans because it’s easy and doesn’t really require a lot of cake decorating skills. Speaking of brunch, if you need some more Easter Brunch inspiration, let me remind you about the big Easter brunch post I shared a few years back! Easter Bunny Cupcakes are also a great way to celebrate this weekend, just saying. Happy Easter, my friends!
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground all-spice
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated
- 1 small zucchini, finely grated
- ¼ cup chopped pistachios
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened,
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 (7-ounce) package marzipan
- orange paste food coloring
- fresh mint
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan, set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and all-spice. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, buttermilk, lemon juice and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the eggs, carrots, and zucchini whisking rapidly until smooth. Add the dry ingredients, and fold until just combined, and no flour remains in the batter. Do not over mix at this stage. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown and a toothpick, inserted in the middle, comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter on high, until light and fluffy. Beat in the honey and then add the powdered sugar with a pinch of salt, beating on high to combine. Whisk in the milk until you get a smooth spreadable frosting.
- To make the marzipan carrots, wearing gloves, place a small amount of gel food coloring into the marzipan and knead with your hands until it's evenly colored. Divide into 7 to 8 even pieces, and then shape into carrots. Use a toothpick to create "lines" on the surface of each carrot. Place a small sprig of mint on the top of each.
- Spread the cooled cake with the frosting and then sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Then stick the carrots on top of the frosting, to create a garden. Cut and serve or place in the fridge until ready to eat. Allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!