Homa Dashtaki's Carrot Cake with Yogurt Frosting

Makes 1 9-inch cake
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My introduction to carrot cake was traumatic. It happened at the very first birthday party my parents allowed me to plan. I was in sixth grade, and I had invited all the cool girls (even the ones who had already French-kissed boys). I showed off my New Kids on the Block gear, and we proceeded to have a very on-trend pizza party with games and soda. Then my mom came in with the cake. It was supposed to be the chocolate fudge cake from Costco we had agreed on, but she went rogue and splurged on a “very special” spiced gourmet carrot cake instead. None of the girls touched it, which put a swift end to my very first American birthday party.

The sixth grader in me was mortified. I could not easily forgive my mom’s deviation from our plan, and for years afterward, carrot cake would stir up the trauma of that weird day between us. Looking back, I’d been convinced that she and my dad were out to sabotage my attempts to fit in.

One secret, though, I’ve never really told anyone: that carrot cake was the most delicious thing I had ever tasted. By sharing the recipe here, I not only honor my mother’s well-intentioned kindness on that ill-fated day, but I use our family’s yogurt in this re-creation.

Fragrant spices make the carrots sing in this extremely moist cake. It will fit in on (almost) any occasion.

Note: While unstrained yogurt works best in the cake, strained Greek-style yogurt or labneh is more suitable for the frosting. See page 50 for tips on straining.

Excerpted from Yogurt & Whey: Recipes of an Iranian Immigrant Life by Homa Dashtaki. Copyright © 2023 by Homa Dashtaki. Used with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the pan


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