Carrot and Orange Cake with Sour Cream Glaze Recipe (2024)

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There’s something extremely delightful in peeling an orange to reveal the sweet and sour flesh hidden inside the fruit. It begins with the intensely aromatic essential oils that form a little cloud of scent around you. Then there’s the tingling sensation that erupts on your lips when you taste your first slice of fruit. This sensation is called chemesthesis; it plays a big part in the flavor experience of eating.We deal with the phenomenon of chemesthesis daily: in how we encounter the heat hidden inside a green or red chile, the warmth of a stick of cinnamon, the cooling sensation evoked by mint and green cardamom. When the nerve endings lining the surface of your mouth and lips come into contact with certain chemicals present inside these ingredients, they get irritated and send signals to the brain, which then tells you what’s happening and how to respond, all in a fraction of a second. Over time our brains evolved to interpret this irritation as a pleasurable experience, compelling us to cook with spices, herbs, and ingredients such as oranges and lemons.My Carrot-and-Orange Cake with Sour Cream Glaze celebrates the way oranges trigger our senses. Pay attention and notice your own responses as you scrape the zest from the orange. Rub a piece of zest across your lips and feel your nerves dance in response. The feast for the senses doesn’t end there, of course: the bright sweetness of the juicy oranges marries with the rich orange pigment carotene in the sweet spring carrots. Chopped pieces of dried apricots and candied orange peels give each slice of cake of spot of unexpected fruit sweetness, while the pistachios add texture to the soft cake. Serve it with a cup of warm tea or coffee to complete the experience.


Nik Sharma

Carrot and Orange Cake with Sour Cream Glaze Recipe (1)

Nik Sharma

Once a molecular biologist, Nik Sharma left science behind to work as a pastry cook. He found his calling when he started to write about food and photograph it; his passion is the pursuit of flavor and sharing his journey with other cooks. Nik is the food columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and lives in Oakland, California. His first book, Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food, was nominated for a James Beard Award and the IACP Julia Child First Book Award.

Updated on July 26, 2023

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Carrot and Orange Cake with Sour Cream Glaze Recipe (2)

Active Time:

30 mins


Makes 1 (9-inch) cake



  • Baking spray

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and finely grated (about 4 cups)

  • 3 ounces dried apricots, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

  • 2 ounces candied orange peels, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

  • 2 ounces raw pistachios, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 1/2 cups grapeseed oil or other neutral-tasting oil

  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest plus 1/2 cup fresh orange juice

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground green cardamom

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided

  • 1/4 cup sour cream

  • 1/2 tablespoon grated orange zest plus 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice, plus more orange zest, for garnish


Make the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a tube or Bundt cake pan with a generous amount of baking spray. Combine carrots, candied apricots, orange peels, and pistachios in a large bowl. Combine oil, brown sugar, eggs, and orange zest and juice in a high-speed blender or the bowl of a food processor. Pulse on high speed until mixture is emulsified (about 10 pulses). Fold oil mixture into carrot mixture in bowl.

  2. In a separate large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cardamom, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; add carrot mixture, and fold to incorporate until there are no visible flecks of flour left behind. Spoon mixture into prepared pan; shake pan lightly to even out the batter and release any air bubbles.

  3. Bake in preheated oven 55 minutes to 1 hour, rotating pan on rack halfway through baking time. (The cake is done when a skewer comes out clean when inserted in center of cake and top of cake is firm to the touch and golden brown.) Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cake onto wire rack. Let cake cool completely.

Make the glaze

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until mixture is light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl, and add 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Beat on low speed until mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Add sour cream and orange zest and juice, and beat on low speed 1 minute. Add remaining 3/4 cup powdered sugar, and beat on low speed until sugar is completely incorporated, about 45 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl, and increase speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is well combined. Drizzle glaze on cooled cake; garnish with orange zest.

Carrot and Orange Cake with Sour Cream Glaze Recipe (2024)


What is sour cream glaze made of? ›

Sour cream glaze recipe
  1. 1 cup sour cream (you can use light or low fat if you wish to)
  2. 2 cups powdered sugar.
  3. 1-2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract (or any other flavor you like)
Sep 6, 2015

How do you keep carrots from turning green in carrot cake? ›

If your carrots turn inexplicably green with a recipe you've used many times before, the likely culprit is that the baking soda didn't get fully dispersed throughout the batter. If your carrots are turning green every time you make the recipe, the ratio of baking soda in the recipe is probably off.

Why is my carrot cake soggy? ›

If you add too many mix-ins, you can dull the spicy flavor of the cinnamon and the nutmeg, or if you add wet ingredients like pineapple, your cake will come out too soggy and fall apart.

Why does carrot cake taste so good? ›

The real stars of carrot cake are the spices. Cinnamon is always invited to the party, but which other friends come with is completely up to the baker. Nutmeg plays well, cardamom too. Try ginger or even turmeric, which will help up the orange color of the batter.

What are the 3 basic ingredients in glaze? ›

A BASE GLAZE is a mixture of these three basic groups: SILICA, FLUX AND ALUMINA.

What are the 3 active ingredients of glaze? ›

All standard ceramic glazes contain the following components:
  • Glass former- silica (SiO2), melting point 3119 degrees Fahrenheit. (RO2)
  • Flux- lowers the melting point of silica; provides the great variety of surfaces in ceramic glazes. ...
  • Stabilizer- alumina, keeps the glaze on a vertical surface; stiffens the melt. (
Jul 15, 2019

Should I refrigerate carrot cake before frosting? ›

Cream cheese frosting and carrot cake are a little unruly when they're warm, so the fridge is your friend. The cake itself is much easier to frost and slice when it's been refrigerated — the soft, moist crumb contracts when it's chilled and doesn't tear or fall apart as easily.

Why does my carrot cake not taste like carrot? ›

The key to getting an intense carrot flavor in my cake is using two types of carrots: a caramelized carrot puree and finely shredded carrots. Roasted and pureed carrots make this cake intensely carrot flavored. Carrots are a natural source of sugar, and roasting them at a high temperature caramelizes the sugars within.

Why is my carrot cake dense and heavy? ›

Your cake is too dense A cake that is overly dense typically has too much liquid, too much sugar or too little leavening (not excess flour, as is commonly thought).

Is oil or butter better for carrot cake? ›

Oil-Based Cakes: Carrot cake recipes often use vegetable oil (e.g., canola or sunflower oil) instead of butter as the primary fat. Oil-based cakes tend to be moister and have a softer, more tender crumb. The mild flavor of vegetable oil also allows the carrot and spice flavors to shine through.

Can I use store bought shredded carrots for carrot cake? ›

Do not use packaged pre-shredded carrots because they are hard and dry. You need about 4 large carrots for this recipe. And when you grate them, you'll notice how wet they are. That is PRIME moisture for your baked cake and you don't want to skip it!

Why does carrot cake taste weird? ›

There are a few reasons why your carrot cake might taste bitter. Too much baking soda: Baking soda is a leavening agent that helps to make cakes rise. However, too much baking soda can give a cake a bitter taste. If you are using a recipe that calls for baking soda, be sure to measure it carefully.

Why not use butter in carrot cake? ›

I love using oil in cakes because not only does it make your cake moist, but it also STAYS moist for much longer than if you used butter. That's because oil is 100% fat where butter is around 80%.

What compliments carrot cake? ›

Cream cheese frosting is a classic and delicious pairing for carrot cake, complementing its sweet and spiced flavors. Additionally, a cup of hot tea or a scoop of vanilla ice cream can be great accompaniments to enhance the overall dessert experience.

Is carrot cake better the next day? ›

Carrot cake usually tastes better the next day, so it's a great recipe to make ahead of time. Simply keep it covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

What was glaze made out of? ›

Glazes consist of silica, fluxes and aluminum oxide. Silica is the structural material for the glaze and if you heat it high enough it can turn to glass. Its melting temperature is too high for ceramic kilns, so silica is combined with fluxes, substances that prevent oxidation, to lower the melting point.

What is glaze and what is it made of? ›

Practically, glazes can seal your clay bodies once fired, making them waterproof and food-safe. Many clay bodies are not vitreous without being glazed, meaning if you added liquid to an unglazed ceramic, it would leak through the pores. Glazes are made up of three ingredients: glass-formers, fluxes, and stabilizers.

What is a common ingredient in glaze? ›

Glaze: there are more than 3 basic components in glaze, these are: silica, alumina, flux, colourants and modifiers. The common ingredients in glaze colours are, “ copper oxide", “copper carbonate", “cobalt oxide" and “ iron oxide.”

Why is it called a sour cream glazed donut? ›

A sour cream doughnut is a type of doughnut that incorporates sour cream into its batter. This type of doughnut is often dipped in a vanilla flavored glaze after frying and usually has no filling.


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