There are thousands of cake recipes online that you can download in a flash. Some are traditional, like vanilla sponge cake, while others are more exotic.
Let’s be honest, nothing sounds more strange than a carrot or spice cake. These treats use ingredients we wouldn’t typically include in a dessert recipe.
Because of that, they have unique textures and flavors. Yet, these aren’t the only characteristics that set the confections apart.
So, if you’re wondering what makes these cakes special, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll dive into the differences between carrot cake and spice cake.
The earliest records of carrot cake date back to the 1500s. Although, the first iteration wasn’t precisely a dessert.
At first, people would include meat, eggs, raisins, and spices in the recipe. While the final dish was tender and moist, the flavor balance wasn’t all that pleasant.
So, at some point, the meat was completely chopped out of the dessert to give us the cake we know and love today.
Carrot cakes are popular for many reasons. For starters, they have a fine crumb and soft texture. This makes for the perfect afternoon-tea dessert.
Other than that, you can taste a hint of the vegetable in the cake. It has a subtle earthiness with a hint of sweetness.
This seamlessly complements the other flavors in the dish.
To bake a traditional carrot cake, you’ll need:
- 3 cups of grated carrots
- 2 cups of flour
- 1 ¼ cups of vegetable oil
- 2 cups of granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 4 eggs
- Pinch of salt
The first thing you’ll want to do is cream the eggs, vanilla extract, sugar, and oil in a large bowl. Whisk this mixture until you can’t see any more streaks.
After that, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. You may have to mix these ingredients in batches.
Otherwise, the flour will end up all over your kitchen counter.
Once that’s done, it’s time to add the grated carrots. In this step, you can also throw in any other mix-ins you like.
That includes nuts, raisins, or even chocolate chips.
Finally, pour the batter into a pan, and your cake is ready for the oven.
While adding spices to your cake may sound strange, the practice has been around for many years. In fact, we can trace the dessert back to the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks.
Typically, the confection would include any type of spices cooks could get their hands on. It was an easy way to spruce up their cakes without affecting the final texture.
This gave us a unique dessert, with an interesting flavor palate.
After the first bite, the spices warm you up and give you a jolt of energy. For that reason, these cakes are the ideal comfort food for winter and fall.
On top of that, when you bake the treat, your home will smell amazing for hours.
To bake a traditional spice cake, you’ll need:
- 2 ½ cups of flour
- 1 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 cup of milk
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups of dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon of ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon of ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons of ground vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
When making a spice cake, it’s a good idea to start with the dry ingredients. Mix your flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a measuring cup.
Then, place a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl. Next, pass the dry ingredients through the strainer.
This will ensure that there are no clumps in your mixture. That, in turn, will give you a smoother batter and better final texture.
After that, grab another bowl and mix the eggs, milk, vanilla, oil, and sugar.
Once that’s done, slowly pour the wet ingredients on top of the dry. As you do that, you should be continuously whisking.
Lastly, spread the batter in a pan and it’s ready for the oven.
At this point, you should have some background information on carrot and spice cakes. So, now we can jump into the differences and similarities between them.
In this section, we’ll compare the two confections.
If you examine the ingredient lists we mentioned, you’ll notice a couple of details. First up, the two desserts have a similar base.
They both use eggs, oil, flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Because of that, the final texture of these confections will be alike.
Other than that, carrot and spice cakes include cinnamon. Beyond that, the recipes are quite different.
For instance, carrot cakes use vegetables as the main ingredient.
Moving on, spice cakes rely on ground spices like nutmeg and clover. Since these usually come in powder form, the batter will be a little dry.
That’s why the recipe calls for an additional cup of milk. This will thin the mixture a bit and make it easier to work with.
At first glance, it may seem like carrot cakes are healthier. Since the main ingredient is a vegetable, then the dessert surely must be good for you.
Sadly, this isn’t the case. That’s because carrots lose a lot of their vitamin content when they spend a little time in the oven.
For that reason, spice and carrot cakes are on equal footing when it comes to nutrition. On top of that, they have a similar sugar content to boot.
However, carrot cakes tend to have a little extra dietary fiber than spice cakes.
Carrot cakes and spice cakes usually look eerily alike. They both have a golden brown crumb and have a soft and fluffy texture.
To an untrained eye, they may even appear to be the same confection. Although, there are a few minor differences.
If you examine a carrot cake closely, you’ll notice tiny specks of orange throughout the surface.
When it comes to icing, the two desserts are identical. We use cream cheese frosting to complement the flavor of both cakes.
That’s due to the richness of the topping. It can cut through the intense flavors of carrot cakes and spice cakes.
There are a few similarities between the two desserts, but you’ll also find differences. That means carrot and spice cakes aren’t one and the same.
Each one uses a distinct blend of ingredients to give you a delicious treat.
Carrot cakes don’t taste exactly like spice cakes, but they are similar. That’s mostly due to the cinnamon in both desserts.
The spice adds a certain kick and heat to the recipe that’s easy to identify.
Although, carrot cakes tend to be slightly sweeter. The extra sugar you get from the vegetable shines through and makes for a scrumptious treat.
As for spice cakes, the brown sugar gives them a deep, complex, almost honey-like flavor.
If you’re in a crunch, you can make carrot cake using spice cake mix. Yet, you’ll need to tweak the recipe a bit.
Start off by preparing the box mix normally. Then, add two cups of finely grated carrots and combine well.
After that, pour in one cup of water and whisk your batter.
This should give you a makeshift carrot cake in a matter of minutes. Although, it won’t taste like regular homemade carrot cake.
Instead, it’ll be slightly more dense, but still an excellent dessert.
If you’re trying to figure out the difference between carrot cake and spice cake, you’re in luck. The most notable distinction lies in the main ingredient.
Other than that, spice cakes tend to be a little more dense. As for nutritional value, the two desserts seem to be on equal footing.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.