Who puts carrots in a cake???

Out of all common kitchen ingredients carrots are among the last you would expect to be in a cake. But somehow it works, and it works well. The odd combination of carrots and cake got me wondering how this combination came about.


Carrot cake’s origin is a bit unclear, but it is believed to have originated from Europe, particularly during the Middle Ages. During this time, sweeteners were expensive and often scarce, so people would use readily available ingredients like carrots to sweeten their desserts. Carrots were also used in cakes as a substitute for sweeteners in recipes.


The earliest known recipe for carrot pudding dates back to the 10th century in Switzerland. Over time, as trade routes expanded and ingredients became more accessible, variations of carrot-based desserts spread throughout Europe.


Carrot cake as we know it today, with its signature cream cheese frosting, gained popularity in the United States during the 20th century. In the United Kingdom,  it became particularly popular during World War II when sugar was rationed, and people sought out alternative sweeteners and ways to make desserts. The addition of grated carrots not only added natural sweetness but also helped keep the cake moist. In our bakery we use more than just carrots to add sweetness to our carrot cakes. We add raisins and pineapple to our carrot cakes which adds more layers of sweetness!


The 1960s and 1970s saw carrot cake becoming more mainstream in America, and it became a staple in many bakeries and homes. Since then, carrot cake has become a beloved dessert worldwide, enjoyed for its moist texture, unique flavor, and the contrast of the sweet cake with the tangy cream cheese frosting.


Carrot cake became closely associated with Easter reasons other than it’s the Easter Bunny’s favorite. The association of this delectable cake and Easter are both historical and symbolic.

1.       Springtime Tradition: Easter is celebrated during the spring season in many parts of the world, and carrot cake often features prominently in springtime menus. The bright orange color of carrots in the cake reflects the vibrant colors of spring, making it a fitting dessert for Easter celebrations.


2.       Renewal and Rebirth: Easter is a Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, symbolizing themes of renewal and rebirth. Carrots, which grow underground and then emerge as vibrant, edible roots, can be seen as a symbol of new life and growth. Therefore, carrot cake, with its use of carrots, can be interpreted as a representation of these Easter themes.


3.       Historical Connections: Historically, carrots were used in desserts during the Middle Ages when sugar was scarce and expensive. Easter falls during the time of Lent, a period of fasting and abstinence in the Christian calendar, leading up to Easter Sunday. Carrot cake, with its use of a vegetable as a sweetener, could have been a practical and symbolic choice for a dessert during Lent and Easter.


4.       Family Tradition: Like many holiday traditions, the association between carrot cake and Easter may also stem from individual family traditions. Many families have adopted carrot cake as a staple dessert for their Easter celebrations, passing down recipes from generation to generation.


Overall, while there may not be a direct historical or religious connection between carrot cake and Easter, the cake’s flavors, colors, and symbolism have made it a popular choice for celebrating the holiday, both for its taste and its representation of themes related to Easter.

Our bakery only bakes carrot cakes for the few weeks leading up to Easter.  So get one while you can or you’ll be waiting ‘till next year!