Carrot cake closely resembles a quick bread in method of preparation (all the wet ingredients, such as the eggs and sugar, are mixed, all the dry ingredients are mixed, and the wet are then added to the dry) and final consistency (which is usually denser than a traditional cake and has a coarser crumb).
Many carrot cake recipes include optional ingredients, such as nuts or raisins. The most common icing on carrot cake is a cream cheese icing (icing sugar, butter and cream cheese).
Carrot cake may be eaten plain, but it is commonly either glazed or topped with white icing or cream cheese icing and walnuts, usually chopped. It is often coated with icing or marzipan made to look like carrots. Carrot cake is popular in loaf, sheet cake and cupcake form, and (in the United Kingdom as well as North America) can be found pre-packaged at grocery stores, and fresh at bakeries. Some carrot cakes are even layered.
Carrots have been used in sweet cakes since the medieval period, during which time sweeteners were scarce and expensive, while carrots, which contain more sugar than any other vegetable besides the sugar beet, were much easier to come by and were used to make sweet desserts. The origins of carrot cake are disputed. The popularity of carrot cake was probably revived in Britain because of rationing during the Second World War,.
Carrot cakes first became commonly available in restaurants and cafeterias in the United States in the early 1960s. They were at first a novelty item, but people liked them so much that carrot cake became standard dessert fare. In 2005, the American-based Food Network listed carrot cake, with its cream-cheese icing, as number five of the top five fad foods of the 1970s.
Another story indicates that following WWII there was a glut of canned carrots in the United States. A business man named George C. Page hired master Bakers to find uses for the cans of carrots. He somehow promoted the idea of carrot cake to help create a demand for the product.