Carrot Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze ~ it’s not just an excuse to eat carrot cake for breakfast (ok maybe it is) but it’s also a fresh take on a classic dessert, with a buttery streusel topping and a sweet, tangy glaze. Brunch anyone?
Usher in the change of seasons with a moist carrot coffee cake
When I think of brunch, I automatically think spring, and this carrot cake with its cheery golden hue and bright tangy cream cheese drizzle is made for those first kinda warm/kinda chilly days of March. Make it now for the gang at the office, and make it again for Easter brunch. Then keep making it just because it’s become your favorite way to start the day.
I can do without dessert any day of the week, but wave a sweet breakfast treat under my nose and I’ll follow you anywhere. This one is easy to make, and will impress everyone with its originality.
Be sure to grate your carrots fresh ~ no bagged shreds, please!
Look for young carrots with the tops attached for best, sweetest flavor. You can shred them with the shredding blade of a food processor, but a box grater works fine. Just watch those knuckles.
The batter for this breakfast cake starts out like any other cake, by creaming butter and sugar together, and then beating in the eggs. A little brown sugar deepens the flavor and brings out that classic ‘carrot cake’ vibe, but the hefty amount of shredded carrots and walnuts are earthy and keep it from feeling too dessert-y. The result is a cake that is rich but not too sweet to serve with morning coffee or tea. (Don’t worry, you’ll get a nice hit of that tangy cream cheese glaze in every bite.)
This cake has Easter morning written all over it, or any other spring fling you’ve got on your calendar this season, for that matter. Because it’s a moist cake, you can safely make it the day before.
To make ahead:
- You can make the cake a day ahead. Be sure to let it cool completely before wrapping.
- Plan to glaze the cake on the day you’d like to serve it.
Variations on this carrot cake
- add shredded coconut
- use pecans instead of walnuts
- add golden raisins
- use a gluten free baking mix instead of all purpose flour
- make it Passover friendly with a mixture of almond flour and matzo meal. Omit the leavening.
More spring brunch ideas
- Sheet Pan Frittata with Spring Greens
- Eggs Benedict Quiche with Hollandaise Sauce
- Strawberry Buttermilk Cake
- Rhubarb Scones
- Instant Pot Clotted Cream
- Spring Carrot Soufflé
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Carrot Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze
For the cake
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup milk (or half and half)
- 2 cups grated carrot, lightly packed
- 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
For the streusel topping
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9 inch round springform pan.
- Make the streusel topping by adding all the ingredients except the chopped walnuts to a bowl and mix by hand until the butter is mixed in and clumps form. Add the walnuts and mix briefly. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and both sugars for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs, one at at a time, letting each one get fully incorporated.
- Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Add the spices and the baking powder, and mix to combine. Then, with the mixer running, add the flour in a couple stages, alternating with the milk.
- Give the batter a final stir by hand, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl well, and fold in the grated carrot and the chopped walnuts.
- Spread the batter into your prepared pan, and top with the streusel topping.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes until risen and starting to brown slightly on the top, or a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out without wet batter clinging to it.
- Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes or so in the pan, then release it and allow it to cool completely before topping with the glaze.
- To make the glaze, add the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar to a bowl along with about a tablespoon of milk, and whisk to combine. It's important for the cream cheese to be very soft so that you can whisk it easily here.
- Add the vanilla, salt, and continue whisking, adding a bit more milk as necessary until the consistency is pourable but still thick.
- Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake.