As many of you may know, I’m half Greek and half Italian, and I was baptized Greek Orthodox. Sometimes the Eastern Orthodox Easter falls on a different day than what my family calls the “American Easter.” Do you know how confusing that was for me as a kid? “Mom, why does the Easter bunny come at a different time for me?” I actually don’t remember how she used to answer that.
My husband isn’t Greek so it’s great when the Easters (yes, it’s weird to make that plural for me too) fall on different days because we can just visit both sets of parents with no conflicts. This year both Easters fall on the same day and it happened to be my parent’s turn. My mom makes a traditional Greek feast including lamb, potatoes, pastitsio, Greek Easter cookies, and Easter bread. It’s everything a Greek who loves to eat can ask for, all in one place and surrounded by family. Basically it’s a high fat and calorie fest.
Since my mom likes to do everything herself and I like to bring something anyway, I figured that I’d bring breakfast to avoid conflicting with dinner. My family adores baked goodies at breakfast time so what better way to start Easter day than with a carrot cake that’s covered with crumbs and a cream cheese drizzle.
Crumb Carrot Cake Recipe
(Makes 12 servings)
Ingredients for Crumb Topping:
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (equivalent to 1 stick) butter, melted
- 1 and 3/4 cups cake flour
Ingredients for Cake:
- 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 pound carrots
Ingredients for Cream Cheese Drizzle:
- 4 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese (also known as Neufchatel cheese)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
Directions for Crumb Topping:
- Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the white sugar, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter.
- Add the cake flour and stir until combined. This works best while the butter is still hot.
- Set the mixture aside to cool for about 10-15 minutes.
Directions for Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan and set it aside. (If you want to present it in a platter instead of the baking pan, then lay down parchment paper with extra hanging over the sides of the pan to pull out the cake once it’s done cooking.)
- Using a fine grater, shred the carrots. Place the shredded carrots in between paper towels and gently press down to remove some moisture.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs, brown sugar, and white sugar together until it turns thick and creamy.
- Mix in the oil.
- Gradually add in the dry ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients have just moistened. Do not over mix.
- Gently stir in the grated carrots. (I do this by hand with a spatula to avoid over mixing.)
- Pour the batter into the greased pan.
- Using your fingers, break the crumb topping into chunks and try to form small balls with it that are about 1/2 inch in size (like plump blueberries) and drop them over the cake batter (do not mix them into the batter). The crumbs do not have to be uniform in size and will likely not completely cover the cake.
- Bake the cake in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean.
- Let it cool completely.
- Drizzle the cream cheese frosting (see recipe below) on top just before serving.
Directions for Cream Cheese Drizzle:
- Mix the cream cheese and vanilla extract together.
- Stir in the powdered sugar and milk until it’s smooth.
Crumb cakes are very easy to make. The only catch is that it takes a bit of time to roll the crumbs, but it’s crumbs, people… it’s worth the time.
Baking Tip: Use a fine grater for the carrots because the smaller pieces will distribute more evenly throughout the cake. Plus, the finer texture is more pleasing in a cake. (I’ll save the real carrot eating for the Easter bunny.) Gently press the shredded carrots in between two layers of paper towel to remove some of the moisture. This will help you avoid a soggy cake but you don’t need to over do it. Your goal here is not orange sawdust.
I think people sometimes connect carrot cake with carrot eating bunnies and thus also with Easter. Being completely honest here, it was the connection I made when I decided to post this recipe for Easter. However, this recipe is amazing in the Autumn, on a Saturday, for a birthday cake, or simply because you have a hankering.
Many carrot cakes are notoriously dense, but this cake is light and moist. There is nothing wrong with that and in fact I make an awesome two tiered carrot cake that’s dense and delightful. (Perhaps I’ll share that with you next year). I wanted this cake to be lighter since it’s intended for breakfast.
The spices in this cake are AMAZING! When you pair them with carrots, you have suddenly taken those notorious autumnal spices and turned them into an enchanted Spring time treat.
I’m kind of obsessed with crumb cakes. In general, I always say the more crumbs on a cake the better. However, with this cake I wanted the crumbs to be an accent, knowing that I’d be topping them with some sweet icing. The cinnamon sugary goodness from those soft crumbs add a lovely bit of sugary texture to an otherwise soft cake. I couldn’t help but pick some of them off my piece while I was eating it.
Of course, no carrot cake is complete without cream cheese frosting. Oh yes, I went there, even for breakfast. (Bagels are for breakfast and have cream cheese, so this totally works, right?) I drizzled the cream cheese frosting on top of those luscious crumbs (plus a little extra on my piece… hello, it’s cream cheese frosting).
I keep calling it a “frosting” but it’s a tad thinner than the frosting that you’d use to frost a cake. That’s the only way you’ll be able to get those fun stripes of sweetness on top.
Any bets on whether the Easter bunny will set aside his carrots to splurge on this breakfast beauty?
Have a great Easter or Passover!
Carrot Cake recipe source: The America’s Test Kitchen: Family Baking Book
Crumb Cake recipe source: What Megan’s Making
Carrot Cake Crumb Cake source: Tina’s Chic Corner
Here are a some other awesome crumb cake recipes.
If you love crumbs, then enjpy them by themselves in these Mini Cinnamon Crumb Cups.