You’ve done it. You’ve baked the perfect Easter treat: the humble carrot cake. It’s moist. Crumbly. Decadent. Delicious (if you do say so yourself…) But now you want the outside to match the inside. How do you go about decorating your carrot cake in a modern, simple yet elegant way?
If this question has you wracking your brains and almost tucking into your scrumptious creation before the icing has even touched it - don’t worry. We are here to help with some handy ideas on how to decorate carrot cake.
Cream cheese frosting for carrot cake
The obvious place to start is with cream cheese frosting. This delicious mix of cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract forms the basis of any carrot cake filling and icing.
To ice your carrot cake in cream cheese frosting, start by placing ⅓ of your icing in a separate bowl. This will be used as your crumb coat (a layer to seal in any stray crumbs), and adding some into a separate bowl means you won’t get any crumbs in the rest of your icing.
Using a spatula, spread and smooth a thin layer of icing over the whole cake. When covered, place the cake in an airtight container and pop it in the fridge for around half an hour to allow the crumb coat to harden.
Once it has hardened, spread two thick layers of frosting over the top and sides of the cake, wiping your spatula clean after each swipe. Chilling your cake between these layers will help to achieve a smooth effect without any smearing - the perfect base for your carrot cake designs.
Now you’ve come to terms with the cream cheese base, you get to move on to the fun part: the toppings! There are so many different carrot cake designs out there, and they can be as simple or as complicated as you choose. Here are some of our favourites:
The chocolate or sugar carrot
A popular choice for fancy carrot cake decoration is to add chocolate or sugar carrots to the top. These can be picked up on Amazon.com or at most big grocery stores, giving your cake that extra photo finish.
Simply coat your cake in cream cheese frosting and spread it around to achieve a smooth finish, add a piped border or piped rosettes to the top and adorn with these little sweet carrots.
The candied carrot
One of our favourite modern carrot cake decorations is the candied carrot. Simple to make but visually impressive and with the added bonus of being really yummy, these sweet toppings are an ideal option to crown the top of your cake. Candied carrots are simply carrot strips that have been boiled in a sugar syrup.
To make your candied carrots, heat 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved fully. Remove the syrup mixture from the heat until it is cool enough to touch. Simmer the carrots into the warm syrup for 10 - 15 minutes.
If you grated your carrot before adding it to the syrup, you can simply sprinkle the gratings across the top of your cake. Another of our favourite ways to decorate carrot cake is to roll the candied carrot peelings up into little rosettes, adorning your cake with little floral decorations. You can also wrap the strips of carrot around the handle of a wooden spoon and leave to cool fully to make little carrot curls. The possibilities are endless!
The walnut crumb
All of these decoration ideas can be complemented with a crumb of crushed walnuts going around the outside of the cake. Once you are happy with the overall coating of your icing around your cake, simply take a handful of crushed walnuts and push them onto the side of your cake, creating a thick layer over the icing.
To enhance the flavour of this decoration, you can toast the walnuts prior to adding them to your cake by evenly spreading them on a foil-lined baking tray and baking them for 10 minutes at 180°C. Just make sure to check them and stir them around frequently in order to prevent them from burning.
How Gaya’s Cakes can help
If this article has you stress eating your freshly baked carrot cake or has completely put you off baking altogether, we are here to save the day!