This spiced carrot cake isn’t the carrot cake of your childhood. It’s unspeakably better. The tender crumb and sweet carrot flavor still evoke all the comforting memories but the addition of chai tea and cardamom spices, along with a not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting, give it an exotic edge that makes this dessert all grown up.Angie Zoobkoff

A whole two layer spiced carrot cake on a white cake stand with one slice cut from it on a plate with a fork beside it.

Spiced Carrot Cake

5 / 9 votes
This spiced carrot cake is made with all the goodness of the classic including carrots, cinnamon, walnuts, and cream cheese frosting, but has an slightly exotic edge with the addition of chai tea and cardamom. A slightly more grown-up version of the original.
David Leite
Servings12 servings
Calories736 kcal
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time1 hour 20 minutes


For the spiced carrot cake

  • Butter for the pans
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 English breakfast tea bags
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 3/4 cups light muscovado sugar or light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mild vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 3 to 3 1/4 cups carrots (about 5), grated on the fine holes of a box grater

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cream cheese
  • 8 to 12 walnut halves, to decorate


Make the spiced carrot cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter 2 round 8-inch (20-cm) cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  • Pour the boiling water into a mug and add the tea bags. Steep for 5 minutes before discarding the bags.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, pepper, and cardamom.
  • In a separate large bowl, thoroughly combine the sugar, eggs, and tea. Stir in the oil and then fold in the carrots until they’re evenly distributed.
  • Fold in the flour mixture just until incorporated, making sure there are no pockets of flour hiding near the bottom.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and bake until the cakes are browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 32 to 40 minutes. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans before turning them out onto a wire rack.

Make the cream cheese frosting

  • In a large bowl, use an electric whisk to beat the butter and sugar until pale and smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until just combined.

Assemble the spiced carrot cake

  • Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or platter. Spoon 1/3 of the cream cheese on top and, using a spatula, gently nudge the frosting right to the edges of the cake.
  • Place the second cake top side down on the first to ensure a flat top. Add the rest of the frosting, spreading it evenly with a palette knife or offset spatula. Scatter the walnuts on top of the cake. Slice and devour.


Shop The Look

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White Pearl 13-inch Cake Stand by Costa Nova
White Pearl Plate by Costa Nova
The New Way To Cake Cookbook

Adapted From

The New Way to Cake

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 736 kcalCarbohydrates: 69 gProtein: 7 gFat: 49 gSaturated Fat: 15 gMonounsaturated Fat: 28 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 118 mgSodium: 245 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 44 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2019 Benjamina Ebuehi. Photo © 2019 Holly Wulff Petersen. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I served this to my family and it was a HUGE hit. Everyone loved the cake and frosting and overall there is just something very special about a layer cake after a meal. It’s an excellent, moist, easy-to-bake carrot cake. The sponge of the carrot cake was excellent—delicate and lightly spiced and beautifully risen. The chai flavoring wasn’t that noticeable.

It took 5 large carrots to get 350g which came to 3 1/4 lightly packed cups – should likely specify packed vs. not for those working without a scale. Additionally, I used the large holes on the box grater…in hindsight, I think it would have been nicer using the smaller holes so the pieces of carrot weren’t so large in the final cake. Could be a preference thing but worth noting.

The assembly was very easy. There is enough frosting if you want to frost the sides I believe there would be enough.

This delicious, moist carrot cake was a big hit at our book club luncheon. The chai spices are a nice blend with the cardamom, adding a newer flavor that most carrot cake recipes lack. I really liked that the frosting isn’t overly sweet at all. The cake looked exactly like the picture and makes a very pretty presentation. Everyone ate just about every crumb.

Due to the allergies of a book club member, I used toasted pecans on top instead of walnuts.

I really loved the spice mixture used in this recipe, especially the addition of strong tea.

I absolutely love the combination of spices used in this cake. masala chai is something I use often. In fact, I might even increase the spices the next time I make it. I will definitely let the tea steep for longer, to give it even more of that flavor. (Please make sure that you realize it is only a 1/4 cup of water needed; I made the mistake of skimming the ingredients and ended up with a lot more tea than I needed. I can only imagine the mess I would have ended up with if I had used the entire mug of tea that I brewed.)

The cake had a lovely crumb and was quite moist. I found the icing a little runny but it was still delicious. It definitely firmed up after I put in the fridge. I might have just used cream cheese that was too warm.

My mother-in-law, father-in-law, husband, and neighbor agreed this was the best carrot cake they’d ever had.

I didn’t have any English Breakfast tea handy so I used Stash’s Chai Spice. I also couldn’t find any muscovado sugar so I had to use coconut sugar which I love and use frequently.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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