Light and Moist Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on August 21, 2012

I’ve never met a carrot cake I didn’t like.

The husband has never met a cake he didn’t like.

I’d largely agree with him 🙂

But there’s just something about carrot cake, zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, and all veggie/squash baked goods that just has such a wonderful savory-sweet-but-mostly-sweet quality to it.

The aromas of nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon bring back memories of the holidays and family gatherings. And the icing on the cake makes you feel like it’s your birthday when you’re eating it.

It’s just all-around goodness. And with this version of carrot cake, you can have your cake and eat it too – completely guilt-free.

Start with a heaping pile of bright, tender, shredded carrots. Add sweetness from high-quality honey that tastes like it came straight from the beehive, and whole wheat pastry flour + walnuts for that rich, nutty flavor. Crushed pineapple is the secret ingredient, adding a ton of moistness. And finally the icing, made with lower fat cream cheese – which, if you’re not the icing type, could be subbed out for just a dusting of powdered sugar over the top of the cake.

Either way, you end up with a delicious satisfying treat, best enjoyed with a cup of hot tea on a lazy afternoon.

Light and Moist Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 18 squares of carrot cake

Serving Size: 1 square

Calories per serving: 166.8

Fat per serving: 4.6g

Nutritional Info Per serving: 166.8 Calories, 4.6g Fat, 30.8g Carbs, 2g Fiber, 2.6g Protein


    For The Cake
  • 2 cups firmly packed finely grated carrots
  • Juice of 1 large orange
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 1 cup honey, liquefied in microwave (30 seconds)
  • 1/2 cup crushed or chopped pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • For The Icing
  • 4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the carrots, orange juice, vanilla, olive oil, honey, and pineapple until well blended.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda, and spices. Mix in the walnuts.
  4. Blend the dry ingredients into the carrot mixture, stirring until just mixed.
  5. Pour the batter into a nonstick 8-inch-square baking pan and bake for 45-60 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and remove from pan.
  6. To make the icing, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and orange zest together. Spread over the cake. Alternatively, you can just dust the cake with powdered sugar and serve.


Recipe Source: Dr. Weil

I like cutting the carrot cake loaf into small squares, because each piece is still pretty substantial.

Happy baking!



{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

pri August 22, 2012 at 9:00 am

Yum! Book marking this.


Anjali @ The Picky Eater August 22, 2012 at 9:06 am

Awesome!! Enjoy Pri! 🙂


Phoenix Family Medical Clinic August 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Looks so good!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater August 25, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Thanks!! I’m sure you will love it! 🙂


Fiona September 8, 2012 at 3:51 am

This looks really good.


Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 9, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Thanks Fiona! I’m sure you will love this recipe!


Aarti November 19, 2012 at 3:21 pm

With a husband who has a typical Indian sweet tooth and the holidays here, this one’s definitely on my “Try It” list!

Thanks for passing this on!



Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 20, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Hehe your husband sounds a lot like my husband Aarti 🙂 Which means, he will definitely enjoy this recipe! Let me know if it passes the “husband-test” for you!


Heather March 29, 2013 at 5:46 am

In the icing, would it work to substitute part/all of the powdered sugar for honey?


Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 29, 2013 at 7:07 am

Hi Heather! You know, I’m not sure honey instead of powdered sugar will work – because I don’t think it will make that icing-consistency that powdered sugar will. But it’s worth a try to see what happens! If the honey does work out, please do let me know!


Charmsingh July 10, 2013 at 9:17 pm

Hi There,

Please advise could I swap the pineapples for an alternative fruit.
– Could I also add in dates.
– Would this recipe work using gluten free flour
– Please advise what is “whole-wheat pastry flour” can this be substituted with another type of flour.



Anjali @ The Picky Eater July 12, 2013 at 3:47 am

Hi! So to your questions:
– For the pineapples – basically they are adding natural sugar and moisture. You could try applesauce as an alternative (I’ve never used it in this recipe, but I have used it in other baked goods and it works well).
– I’m not sure how well dates would work in this recipe – I don’t think I’d add them, I think they would make the cake too dense
– Gluten free flour should work! If you’re not 100% gluten-free, I’d do a combination of gluten free and whole wheat pastry flour, since the whole wheat pastry flour gives the cake the lightness/fluffiness that you’d expect from a carrot cake
– Whole wheat pastry flour is a specific type of flour used in baking – you should be able to find it in the baking aisle of most grocery stores. For substituting another flour, you could use all purpose or whole wheat flour (or a mixture of flours as I mentioned above), but the pastry flour is really the best for this cake because we are taking out a lot of the fat and sugar of the original recipe, so this flour gives the cake the texture you’d want in a dessert-type-carrot-cake 🙂 Hope that helps!


nancy May 21, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Hi, you have a great blog! I found this recipe very interesting and I gave it a try today but the result wasn;t like your s:/ . I followed every step exactly like you said, apart from not using whole wheat pastry flourb, but mixing white flour and wholewheat instead. The problem is that my cake is all rubbery :/ can you help me?


Anjali @ The Picky Eater May 24, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Thanks so much Nancy! Aw man, I’m sorry this didn’t turn out well for you. Honestly, I think it’s because of the whole wheat flour you used (vs. the whole wheat pastry flour). It does make a difference in terms of the consistency of the cake. The other thing you can try doing is sifting your flour before you add it to the rest of the dry ingredients. I hope that helps!


AMJ June 5, 2015 at 4:39 pm

Love the recipe, thank you.


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 5, 2015 at 6:13 pm

Of course! So glad you liked it!


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