Carrot Cardamom and Pistachio Cake with Saffron Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s the season for carrot cakes and this one’s about to blow your mind!

Think of it as carrot cake meets gajar halwa — an Indian sweet dish made by slow-cooking grated carrots in milk and sugar. The green cardamom has a prominent flavour in this cake, as in the gajar halwa, and I prefer it over cinnamon or nutmeg for summer recipes.

Also, carrot cake is typically made with oil but I’ve swapped it for brown butter for a rich and nutty flavour. I love the taste of brown butter and I use it instead of regular butter in baking whenever I can, for instance in cornbread. It’s fascinating how the same ingredient transforms flavour after heating for a few minutes.

While this cake is amazing enough to be had on its own, the cream cheese speckled with saffron strands makes it festive with its floral notes while also imparting a sunny hue to the cake.

Carrot, Cardamom and Pistachio Cake with Saffron, Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot, Cardamom and Pistachio Cake with Saffron, Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot, Cardamom and Pistachio Cake with Saffron, Cream Cheese Frosting
3.27 from 45 votes
Course Breakfast, Dessert, teatime
Cuisine American, Indian


  • oven, wire rack, spatula, whisk


Carrot Cake

  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (place in a pan on medium heat until it browns, cool and set it aside)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup pistachios chopped
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp green cardamom seeds powdered
  • 1 pinch salt


  • 250 g cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp rose water
  • 1 pinch saffron strands


Baking the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Whisk together sugar, eggs and brown butter. Ensure the butter is cooled completely before adding.
  • To that add flour, baking soda, cardamom, salt and pistachios and mix. It should be a thick mixture
  • Line a 9-inch baking pan with butter and add the batter. Make sure the top of the cake is evenly spread out. Bake for about 30 minutes
  • Once ready place the cake on a wire rack until it cools completely

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Soak the saffron strands in rose water for about 30 minutes
  • Whisk the cream cheese, sugar and saffron along with the rose water until all the ingredients combine and the mixture is light and fluffy. A hand-held whisk can do the job well. I didn't use an electric mixer.
  • Use a spatula to spread the cream cheese frosting over the cake evenly and it's ready to eat!
Keyword baked, carrot cake

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