|Type||Loaf, sheet cake, layer cake, cupcake|
|Place of origin||Disputed; either England, France, or Switzerland|
|Region or state||Western Europe|
|Main ingredients||Flour, eggs, sugar, carrots, and baking powder|
|Variations||Hazelnuts, lemon, kirsch, cinnamon, almonds, walnuts|
Carrot cake (also known as passion cake) is cake that contains carrots mixed into the batter. Most modern carrot cake recipes have a white cream cheese frosting. Sometimes nuts such as walnuts or pecans are added into the cake batter, as well as spices such as cinnamon, ginger and ground mixed spice. Fruit including pineapple, raisins and shredded coconut can also be used to add a natural sweetness.
The origins of carrot cake are disputed. Published in 1591, there is an English recipe for "pudding in a Carret [sic] root" that is essentially a stuffed carrot with meat, but it includes many elements common to the modern dessert: shortening, cream, eggs, raisins, sweetener (dates and sugar), spices (clove and mace), scraped carrot, and breadcrumbs (in place of flour). Many food historians believe carrot cake originated from such carrot puddings eaten by Europeans in the Middle Ages, when sugar and sweeteners were expensive and many people used carrots as a substitute for sugar. Variations of the carrot pudding evolved to include baking with a crust (as pumpkin pie), steamed with a sauce, or molded in pans (as plum pudding) with icing.
In volume two of L'art du cuisinier (1814), Antoine Beauvilliers, former chef to Louis XVI, included a recipe for a "Gâteau de Carottes", which was popular enough to be copied verbatim in competitors' cookbooks. In 1824, Beauvilliers had published in London an English version of his cookbook which includes a recipe for "Carrot Cakes" in a literal translation of his earlier recipe.
Another 19th-century recipe comes from the housekeeping school of Kaiseraugst (Canton of Aargau, Switzerland). According to the Culinary Heritage of Switzerland, it is one of the most popular cakes in Switzerland, especially for the birthdays of children.
The popularity of carrot cake was revived in the United Kingdom because of rationing during the Second World War.