Carrot Cake Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

updated Jun 1, 2021
Carrot Cake Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

This updated twist brings together all the things we love about carrot cake and a classic coffee cake: fragrant cinnamon spice, carrots, walnuts, and a cream cheese drizzle.

Serves8 to 10

Prep30 minutes

Cook40 minutes to 1 hour

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carrot cake coffee cake on parchment paper
Credit: Food Styling: Pearl Jones

Coffee cake is the little black dress of cakes. It can be enjoyed for breakfast (who doesn’t want cake for breakfast?), with tea in the afternoon, or as dessert after a cozy dinner with friends. No matter when you eat it, the textural juxtaposition of the crunchy, sweet, crumbly top and the soft, tender cake is always a hit.

As a soon-to-be bakery owner, I’ve spent a lot of time in R&D mode trying to figure out what I want to bake and sell when my shop, Small State Provisions, opens in West Hartford, Connecticut. I’m mostly focused on reinventing some of my favorite classics, and this carrot cake coffee cake fits the bill perfectly. Spiced with fragrant cinnamon, studded with carrots and walnuts, and finished with both a crumble topping and a cream cheese drizzle, this updated twist brings together all the things I love about carrot cake and combines it with a classic coffee cake. The addition of sour cream and crushed pineapple makes the cake moist and flavorful, but not overly sweet.

Credit: Food Styling: Pearl Jones

How to Prep This Cake in Advance

If you want to wake up and not fuss with the prep work, you can prep many of the components ahead of time. I usually make the crumb topping and stash it in the fridge, but you can also toast the walnuts, grate the carrots, and drain the pineapple in advance. The morning you want to serve the cake, just whip up the batter, assemble, and bake. In my humble opinion, this cake is best served at room temperature. And although it will keep for up to three days, I seriously doubt it will last that long.

Carrot Cake Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

This updated twist brings together all the things we love about carrot cake and a classic coffee cake: fragrant cinnamon spice, carrots, walnuts, and a cream cheese drizzle.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes to 1 hour

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 stick

    (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 to 2

    medium carrots

  • 1 (8-ounce) can

    crushed pineapple

  • 1/2 cup

    raw walnuts (optional)

  • 2 1/2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1 cup

    sour cream

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 1 stick

    (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

For the drizzle:

  • 4 ounces

    cream cream

  • 1/2 cup

    powdered sugar

  • 3 tablespoons

    reserved crushed pineapple juice, plus more as needed

Instructions

Prepare the cake ingredients:

  1. Place 1 stick unsalted butter for the cake in the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit at room temperature until softened.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Meanwhile, line a 9-inch square baking pan with a parchment paper sling that has a 2-inch overhang over two sides. Coat the pan and paper with cooking spray. Peel and grate 1 to 2 medium carrots on the large holes of a box grater until you have 1 lightly packed cup. Drain 1 can crushed pineapple through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl. Reserve the juice.

  3. If using walnuts, spread 1/2 cup on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until fragrant and toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, make the topping.

Make the topping:

  1. Cut 1 stick unsalted butter into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Rub the butter into the mixture with your fingers until it clumps together when you squeeze it in your hand. Don’t over work it as you want to have a crumb with both large and small crumbles. Refrigerate while you make the cake.

Make the cake:

  1. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F. Place 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

  2. Add 1 cup granulated sugar to the butter in the stand mixer bowl. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until pale and fluffy, scraping down the bowl about halfway through, about 4 minutes total. Beat in 2 large eggs one at a time and until fully incorporated. Add 1 cup sour cream and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and beat to combine.

  3. If using walnuts, coarsely chop. Add the walnuts, pineapple, and carrots to the batter and mix on low speed until just combined. Beat the flour mixture mix in on low speed just until incorporated - do not overmix. Transfer to the prepared baking pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle evenly with the topping.

  4. Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it, 40 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, place 4 ounces cream cheese in a medium bowl and let sit at room temperature to soften.

  5. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Grasping the excess parchment paper, lift the cake out of the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the drizzle.

Make the drizzle:

  1. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of the reserved pineapple juice to the cream cheese and whisk until combined and smooth. Add more pineapple juice a teaspoon at a time as needed until it drizzles off the whisk in ribbons. Drizzle onto the cooled cake before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Store leftover cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.