When one thinks of carrots, the first thing that may come to mind is perhaps Bugs Bunny chomping on a bright orange carrot asking that ever popular question, “What’s up, Doc?” The carrot, a root vegetable rich in vitamin A is credited with being able to improve eyesight is very rich in natural sugars.

The History of Carrot Cake

Because of its saccharine quality, the carrot became a natural sweetener that was used in preparing puddings, breads and cakes. Desserts sweetened with grated carrots enjoyed great popularity in medieval times long before Marco Polo brought sugar to Europe from the east, when sugar was scarce or not available at all. The sugar beet is the only vegetable that contains more sugar than carrots, but carrots were much easier to come by.

When sugar became more easily accessible, making desserts with grated carrots became less fashionable. However, with the onset of World War II and the rationing of sugar and other commodities, the carrot cake’s popularity began to soar once again.

How They Are Made

Carrot cakes, often called passion cakes, are made with grated carrots mixed with a batter. While the batter recipe may vary from kitchen to kitchen, the basic ingredients include eggs, milk, flour, baking powder and vanilla extract. As the cake bakes, the grated carrot softens in the cooking process, giving the cake a soft, dense texture. The carrots enhance the flavor, texture and appearance of the cake. Certain cake lovers use the presence of vitamins in carrots and the addition of raisins, apples, walnuts and pineapple as an excuse to eat more carrot cake.

Carrot cake may be eaten plain, but it is usually either glazed or topped with white or cream cheese icing. Carrot cakes are often decorated with chopped walnuts or colored frosting made to look like little carrots.

The Carrot Cake Travels to America

In the United States, carrot cake first became available in restaurants and cafeterias in the early 1960s. At first the dense carrot cake was simply at first a novelty item that was savored only by the adventurous. Eventually, however, Americans overcame their trepidation about the strange looking dessert and opened their mouths and hearts to the carrot cake.

Before long people in America liked them so much that carrot cake became standard dessert fare. The carrot cake became so popular that in 2005, the Food Network, the American-based television network dedicated to the preparation and serving of all things edible, listed carrot cake with cream-cheese icing as number five of the top five fad foods of the 1970s.

In the thirty years since earning that honor, carrot cake has done nothing but grow more widely accepted, more popular and has become a staple on desert carts in homes, cafeterias and restaurants every place where delicious tempting cakes can be found throughout the UK, Canada and the US. The carrot cake, once an alternative to desserts made with sugar is now one of the most sought after desserts ever.