Carrot cake is my absolute favorite.
There’s nothing like that delicious blend of heart-warming spices. Hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove cake layered between a sweet but tangy cream cheese frosting.
In my book, it can’t be beat.
If you’re anything like me, the only thing more fun than scarfing down a scrumptious slice is baking a carrot cake at home.
I’m a stickler for fresh ingredients and for this dessert, my carrots have to be the freshest I can find. After all, the texture and richness they add is what makes this such a fantastic cake.
But as with all things baking, sometimes things don’t always go as planned. I’ve overcooked them and undercooked them, made them too sweet or not sweet enough. It took me quite a while to get my recipe just right.
The strangest thing that I can remember, though, is when I first noticed an odd green hue running right through the middle of my cake layer. Luckily, I wasn’t serving it so I could save myself the embarrassment of offering someone a piece of my leprechaun cake, but the experience definitely had me scratching my head.
I’m guessing that since you’re here reading this article, you’ve had this happen to you as well.
Well, the good news is that we’ve done the research and we’ve got the answer you’re looking for.
So, if you’re wondering why carrots turn green in carrot cake, you’ve come to the right place!
The reason carrots turn green in carrot cake is that carrots contain a vegetable pigment known as carotenoids which are orange or orange-yellow. These carotenoids have a sensitivity to changes in pH and when something is introduced to the carrot that affects its pH, it will change color.
When it comes to carrot cake, the culprit that causes this effect is baking soda. Baking soda is commonly used ingredient in carrot cake and when it interacts with carotenoids present in the carrots, a process known as chorophyllin, the carrots will change color, often turning green.
Table of Contents
What Should You Do if Your Carrot Cake Turns Green
The first thing is not to panic, the cake is perfectly edible.
However, if you don’t want to serve it because of the way it looks, then you can experiment with a few things the next time you make one or if you’re starting over.
Double Check the Baking Soda
Make sure that you’re using the correct amount of baking soda that the recipe calls for.
Too little baking soda shouldn’t cause a problem with discoloration but might be a problem for the cake itself so pay close attention to the amount you’re using.
Make sure that the baking soda is distributed evenly throughout the cake batter. Most of the time, uneven disbursement will cause your green carrot cake woes.
Blanche Your Carrots First
Blanching your carrots prior to adding them to the batter is another option.
Bring a pot of water to a boil then place your carrots in a colander, the finest mesh you have.
From there, dip the carrots in quickly (about 10 seconds), then remove them and transfer them to a waiting bowl of ice water. Doing this quickly will blanche them (without cooking them) and make them less sensitive to any chemical reactions they might have to the baking soda.
Reduce or Eliminate Oxidation
If you’re certain that baking soda isn’t the cause, another possibility your carrot cake is green could be an oxidative reaction to the pan you used.
It’s not unheard of for aluminum or stainless steel to cause oxidation of vegetables, including carrots. If you suspect this might be the problem, simply remove the cake from the pan and to a cooling rack within about ten minutes after it’s finished baking.
While this might not eliminate the greening of your carrots completely, it can minimize it.
Shred Your Own Carrots
While it’s way easier to simply buy pre-shredded carrots, it’s not unusual for them to oxidize in the packaging.
The reason for this is that once the carrot skin has been peeled away, the oxidative process begins. Although it’s slow with advancements in food packaging and processing these days, it’s still a possibility so whenever possible, shred them yourself.
After all, the fresher the better!