Simple Spelt Flour Carrot Cake with Ricotta Frosting

Speaking from a history of impatience, I can tell you it helps (at least a little) if you can mentally prepare yourself for the things you have to wait for.

Vertical image of a slice of carrot cake with a white icing on a white plate, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

Like waiting at the post office.

It will be crowded, trust me, no matter when you go. So bring your iPhone and catch up on Words with Friends while you listen for your number to be called.

Same goes for rush-hour traffic.

Vertical image of a one-layered orange cake topped with white icing on a white stand next to three carrots.

We all know what that’s like. Expect delays or, you know, quit your office job to avoid the traffic altogether.

Knowing these things and simply anticipating the waits make it easier to push through them. At least for me.

It’s also kind of like baking this spelt flour carrot cake.

Vertical image of a one-layered orange dessert with white frosting on a white platter.

Thanks to a mad craving around 10 at night, I made this dark, fragrant dessert.

When I pulled this one-layered beauty out of the oven, with its mouthwatering, spiced fragrance, all I wanted to do was immediately dig in – when it was still piping hot, vulnerable without a blanket of frosting covering it.

But I knew it was best to wait. Best to wait for it to cool, to decorate it in a thick, sweet ricotta cheese icing.

Vertical image of a slice of simple carrot cake with white frosting on a white plate.

The next day, my husband and I enjoyed two thick, heavenly slices of perfect cake speckled with vibrant carrots. Moist and spiced, nicely balanced by the hints of maple syrup in the frosting.

Good things, deliciously sweet things, come to those who wait.

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Horizontal image of a slice of a simply decorated orange cake with white icing on a white plate in front of fresh carrots on a tan napkin.

Simple Spelt Flour Carrot Cake with Ricotta Frosting


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Description

For a healthier and lighter carrot cake, make this spelt flour version. Moist and spiced, it is nicely balanced by hints of maple syrup in the fluffy ricotta cheese frosting.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 3/4 cup Sucanat or coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pure olive oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups finely grated carrot

For the Frosting:

  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

For the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line and grease an 8-inch cake pan. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate small bowl, lightly whisk together the oil and eggs. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, and whisk just until incorporated.
  4. Add the grated carrot and mix until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
  5. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and transferring to a wire rack and allowing to cool completely.

For the Frosting:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the frosting ingredients until completely combined.
  2. Spread the top of the cooled cake with the frosting. Transfer to a plate or stand and serve.
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: cake, carrot cake, spelt flour, sucanat, coconut sugar, Easter desserts

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Mix the Dry Ingredients

Horizontal image of a white bowl with a tan dry mixture next to a wire whisk.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Whisk together the spelt flour, Sucanat (unrefined cane sugar), spices, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until everything is completely incorporated.

The combination of warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice is beautiful in this dessert! Be sure to keep everything in order with a top pick from our roundup of the best spice racks.

You can also use equal parts coconut sugar, if Sucanat is unavailable.

Step 2 – Mix in the Wet Ingredients

Horizontal image of a gray bowl with a yellow liquid on tan napkins.

In a separate small bowl, lightly whisk together the oil and eggs. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, whisking just until incorporated.

Horizontal image of a white bowl with a dark orange soft mixture with a spatula on tan napkins.

Extra virgin olive oil will have a flavor that’s a little too strong and peppery for a sweet cake – I suggest using the version labeled pure instead.

Step 3 – Add in the Carrots

Add the grated carrot and mix until just combined. Pour the batter into an 8-inch cake pan that has been lined with parchment paper and lightly greased with nonstick cooking spray.

If you want an even faster and less tedious way to grate these veggies, use a food processor or blender. Pulse until they become fine shreds.

Horizontal image of chunky orange batter in a white bowl with a spatula on tan napkins.

Missing the nuts and dried fruits? We’re keeping it elegantly simple for this recipe, but you can certainly add them during this step! Add a 1/2 cup each of both chopped nuts and raisins.

Step 4 – Bake and Cool

Horizontal image of a round orange cake on a cooling rack on two tan napkins.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely.

Step 5 – Make the Frosting

Horizontal image of a whipped ricotta mixture in a white bowl with a spatula on two tan napkins.

In a small bowl, whisk together the frosting ingredients until completely combined. The mixture will be softer and runnier than a traditional buttercream icing.

Why the yogurt? The tanginess mimics that same flavor found in a cream cheese, without all the fat and calories!

Step 6 – Decorate and Serve

Horizontal top-down image of a frosting-covered dessert on a white plate next to fresh carrots and forks.

Spread the top of the cooled cake with the frosting. Transfer to a plate or stand and serve.

Healthier Alternatives, Same Sweet Results

I don’t shy away from the usual baking ingredients in all kinds of desserts. There’s plenty of proof.

For example, my classic carrot cake recipe uses refined wheat flour, buttermilk, refined white and brown sugars, and a hefty layer of thick and cloying cream cheese frosting.

But it’s good sometimes to embrace healthier alternatives.

Horizontal image of a slice of a simply decorated orange cake with white icing on a white plate in front of fresh carrots on a tan napkin.

This version of my favorite springtime dessert uses spelt flour and Sucanat, and a lightly sweetened fluffy ricotta cheese frosting.

It’s different, in all the right ways. Enjoy a slice soon, and let me know what you think!

Have you baked with spelt flour or unrefined sugar before? What recipes have you used? I’d love to get new ideas for future baking days, so leave me a comment below.

If you are looking for more health-focused cake recipes, we have plenty:

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on August 16, 2010. Last updated: April 3, 2019 at 16:13 pm. With additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

31 thoughts on “Simple Spelt Flour Carrot Cake with Ricotta Frosting”

  1. I love this post. I have some carrots that I picked up at the farmers market that desperately need to be used. I was thinking about baking with them, now I know what I’m going to make. Thank you for the post!

  2. i adore this. the phenomenon of the unexpected is what i love about not only cooking (i don’t – and well, can’t – bake), but life in general. i continue to learn how beautiful the unknown is – even life isn’t what you expect it will be, it tends to surprise you in ways that can still make you happy. your slice of carrot cake certainly looks marvelous!

  3. It’s always so hard to wait! But sometimes so worth it. I like the idea of putting the carrots in the food processor, sometimes I don’t like biting into too much carrot in my cake. Love the ricotta frosting!

  4. Well, I wish I could embrace the “patience is a virtue” cliche/aphorism, but no such luck…waiting is still a challenge for me. I concur about the helpfulness of knowing time-frames for waits – they’re great if they are precise or generous…. Thanks, Dan

  5. I think any cakes that are based on fruit & veg are better left to mingle overnight. Choc/beet, choc/zucchini, apple/walnut…all better overnight in my opinion.

    I made some vegan choc cupcakes on the weekend too. I thought they were fantastic fresh out of the oven but oh boy did some magic happen when I left a couple for 2 days.

  6. Ricotta maple frosting sounds delicious! I’ve never heard of it… but on top of a spicy carrot cake? Wow, that def must have been good!

  7. Carrot cake is one of my favorites.. and with ricotta maple icing it sounds even better than the norm! I can never seem to find spelt flour.. do you think it would be the same with all purpose?

  8. Summer, You know, I saw some beautiful carrots at my farmers market this weekend and didn’t buy them, and I was kicking myself later when I got this craving and had to run to the store. Yay for farmers markets! And carrot cakes! Hope you enjoy this!

    leslie, what a nice perspective you have. beauty in the unknown… ah, I am trying to remind myself of that even as I type.

    Tim, I thought you would.

    Angie, Oh, you’re among friends at this blog. I am a classic craver. When I want something, I will want it right away, ha! I guess that all goes back to the first line of this post, though. Impatience runs deep.

    Jacqui, It is! It is! And I have to say: my food processor is such a great kitchen tool. I use it all the time!

    IslandEAT, Small steps, Dan. Small steps. While I can’t say I like waiting, I can say I want to. : )

    Shannon, Good point! And those cupcakes sound lovely.

    Niki, I am finding I like ricotta in just about everything! : )

    Evan, I’d probably try half wheat and half all-purpose if you were looking for a substitute. Of course you could do all-purpose as a complete sub, but it will just be a little less hearty and the texture might be affected. As far as spelt flour, are you near a Whole Foods? That’s where I buy mine. Sometimes health stores are a good source, too.

    Jenn, Thanks! I just love ricotta!

  9. I’ll have to try this! My partner is on a trial diet and can’t have wheat (spelt is allowed), so this is definitely something he could enjoy too! Thanks for sharing, I love your blog!

  10. Awesome, Maria, I’m so glad! You should also look into buckwheat flour – a more distinguishable flavor but loads of health benefits.

  11. I’m not a fan of carrots (and thus cake) so I’ve been a little slow to turn to this post. But the end note – about letting things develop as they will, is perfectly timed. Thanks.

  12. Kim, Made. My. Day. I look forward to many games, my friend.

    Anne, I honestly so understand, and not just because I didn’t like carrots for a looooong time. Sometimes I don’t feel excited about an ingredient or recipe, and that alone makes me kind of apathetic about reading a post. But I think it’s the best blog readers that read them anyway and are able to find good in them. Thanks for sticking with me! And here’s to letting things develop. Indeed.

  13. I know just what you mean about the whole waiting thing. It’s interesting, too, with baking, how some things improve with age–even several hours of aging! The recipe for your frosting is very intriguing. I am curious: How did the frosting, what with the ricotta in it, hold up after hours on the cake, and did its flavor seem to evolve as well?

  14. Oh I know this feeling – I am so impatient at times, I just want things to be right immediately! And this cake sounds great but it is the frosting that I need – love maple frosting. Gx

  15. Jane, That’s a good question. Over about five days, the frosting tinted a little so it was kind of tan, but it still tasted great, and the flavors hadn’t changed.

    Gemma, Glad I’m not alone! And maple is one of my favs, too. : )

  16. Yay, I love when things are better the next day! I just posted about my risotto made with spelt… Spelt is most definitely my new obsession. I need to get some spelt flour!

  17. Sues, Now see, not only have I never had spelt risotto but I think I’ve had risotto a total of one time. Ever. You’re inspiring!

  18. Love the additionof spelt flour and the ricoota in the frosting. Will have to give this a try! And, oh – great story – totally agree!

  19. Thanks for the recipe! I needed this cake for Sunday night, but the only time I was able to make it was on Thursday night. The cake rose more than I expected, almost overflowing the cake pan. After 3 days in the fridge, it tasted fantastic. Next time, however, I would frost it at the last minute instead of after baking, as the frosting began to turn shades of brown in some places (I suppose due to the vanilla and maple syrup).

  20. Glad you enjoyed it, Eric! And yep, that’s definitely true with this frosting… it’s much better right away. Several people have suggested a cream cheese frosting instead, which I’d love to try next time. : ) Thanks for coming back to tell me how it went!

  21. I’m making this into carrot cupcakes…any idea for the cooking time for these cupcakes?

    Also, replacing spelt with buckwheat flour to make them gluten free…ideas on that and how it would change?

    Thanks! (awesome cake)

    • Hi Eve, When I switch cakes to cupcakes, I usually lower the baking time by 15 minutes or so and watch it — since I haven’t made this recipe as cupcakes, that’s the best advice I can give you. (But let me know how it goes!)

      And as far as spelt and buckwheat, they are not one-to-one swaps, unfortunately, so switching the spelt for buckwheat will definitely change the cake, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work. It just means you’ll have to experiment with proportions. Good luck!

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