This Olive Oil Carrot Cake is full of warm spices and the sweet flavor of apricot. This upside down cake brings basic ingredients together to make a show-stopping dessert!
If you need a stunning dessert to bring to a gathering, this is it!
Whether it's a spring brunch, summer barbecue, Thanksgiving feast, or a winter dinner party, guests will be wowed by this Olive Oil Carrot Cake.
It's perfect for both casual entertaining and fancier soirées.
- olive oil - You can use regular olive oil or extra virgin olive oil if you like the stronger flavor. Either way, use a high quality olive oil. I like this one.
- carrots - Start with large carrots to slice for the topping.
- apricot jam - This is the one I use. It's used to glaze the topping and is also inside the cake.
- brown sugar
- crushed pineapple - Pineapple adds moisture to this cake, and helps give it its incredible texture.
- pure vanilla extract - I use this one.
- salt - I bake (and cook) with Kosher salt. I prefer it for a few reasons: its larger flake size, it's less refined and usually doesn't contain additives, and it does a great job enhancing the flavor of foods without making them taste salty. (If you use table salt, only use a pinch.)
- carrots - Some will be grated for the cake and some will be sliced for the top of the cake.
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder – If you don’t bake regularly, it’s a good idea to check to be sure your baking powder is still good. To do so, pour a couple of tablespoons of boiling water over about ¼ teaspoon of the baking powder. If it starts to fizz, it’s still good.
- baking soda - Like the baking powder, If you don’t bake regularly, check to be sure your baking soda is still good. To do so, pour a couple of tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice over about ¼ teaspoon of the baking soda. If it starts to fizz, it’s still good.
- heavy cream
- powdered sugar
Substitutions and Variations
- Gluten free? Use and equal amount of Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Multi Purpose flour. It works really well. And/or try my Gluten-Free Spiced Carrot Cake with Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting.
- You could also make great carrot cake muffins . . . grease your muffin tins and add the batter about ¾ the way up. The baking time will be a bit shorter.
- I think this cake is pretty and unique with the carrot slices on top -- however, to save time (without losing any deliciousness), you can just pour the batter in the olive oil-greased pan and serve with the whipped cream.
- You can also save time by purchasing pre-grated carrots.
How to Make it
- Peel the carrots and cut them into very thin rounds.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Add the olive oil to 9 x 2 inch cake pan, and use a pastry brush to spread it evenly around the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Add the apricot jam to the pan and place the pan in the oven -- only long enough to melt the jam, about a minute. Then use the pastry brush to evenly spread it on the bottom of the pan.
- Arrange the carrot slices on top of the jam. A single-layered layer is best, and the more slices the better because they will shrink a bit.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the sugar with the olive oil, pineapple, apricot jam, vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt. Add the eggs, and mix until they're fully incorporated and then fold in the shredded carrots. Sift in the flour with the baking powder and baking soda. Mix until the flour has blended in and then pour the batter directly on top of the carrot slices in the cake pan.
- Bake just until the cake has solidified and is beginning to crack, about 30 minutes.
- Whip the cream with the sugar and spices until you have soft peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.
- Let the cake sit out of the oven for at least 5 minutes. Then invert it directly onto a serving platter and let it cool.
- Add a little more apricot jam to a small pan and melt it over low-medium heat. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the entire surface of the cake to make it shiny.
- Add a dollop of the spiced whipped cream to each slice as you serve.
(More detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Other Must-Try Olive Oil Cakes
Making it Ahead and Storage
- If you'd like to make the cake ahead of time, don't invert it onto a plate until about an hour before you're ready to serve.
- You can keep it refrigerated in the pan, covered with plastic wrap, for up to one day before inverting and serving. (Bring it to room temperature before serving.)
- You can freeze leftovers, but if you're serving guests, don't do so from the freezer, as it'll loose some of its fresh taste.
What makes this Olive Oil Carrot Cake unique?
- For starters, it's made with olive oil. most carrot cakes are made with butter or other oils.
- It's upside down. And the top -- I mean bottom -- is a layer of thinly sliced carrots! Have you ever seen that before?
- And the flavor of apricots is spread throughout the cake -- inside and out!
- Cardamom and cinnamon are wonderful, warming spices, and they're especially good when fruit is involved. The cinnamon is expected, but the flavor of the cardamom will surprise your tasters.
I hope you love this Olive Oil Carrot Cake as much as my family and I do.
Olive Oil Carrot Cake with Apricot Recipe
For the topping
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup apricot jam, divided
- 2 to 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into super thin rounds
For the cake
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup crushed pineapple
- 1 tablespoon apricot jam
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1¼ cups shredded carrots
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
For the topping
- Prepare the pan. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a 9 x 2 inch cake pan. Use a pastry brush to spread it evenly around the bottom and sides of the pan. (There will be more on the bottom than the sides -- that's perfect.)
- Add the apricot jam to the pan. Now add ¼ cup of the apricot jam to the pan. Place the pan in the oven -- only long enough to melt the jam, about a minute or so. Then use the pastry brush to evenly spread it just on the bottom of the pan.
- Arrange carrot slices. Arrange the carrot slices on top of the jam. A single-layered layer is best, and the more slices the better because they will shrink a little bit during the baking process. Set this aside.
For the cake
- Combine the wet ingredients and carrots. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the sugar with the olive oil, pineapple, apricot jam, vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt. Add the eggs, and mix until they're fully incorporated and then fold in the shredded carrots.
- Add the dry ingredients. Sift in the flour along with the baking powder and baking soda. Mix only until the flour has blended in and then pour the batter directly on top of the carrot slices in the cake pan.
- Bake. Bake in the preheated 350°F oven just until the cake has solidified and is beginning to crack, about 30 minutes. (You can stick a toothpick in the center of the cake and if it comes out clean -- it's ready.)
For the spiced whipped cream
- While the cake is baking, use an electric mixer or a whisk to whip the cream with the sugar and spices until you have soft peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.
- Cool and invert the cake. Let the cake sit out of the oven for at least 5 minutes. Then invert it directly onto a serving platter. Let it cool for 30 minutes.
- Glaze. Add the remaining ¼ cup of apricot jam to a small pan and place it over low-medium heat. Once it's melted, use a pastry brush to lightly coat the entire surface of the cake to make it shiny.
- Serve. Add a dollop of the spiced whipped cream to each slice as you serve.
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