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George Washington Carrot Tea Cake Recipe

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This Carrot Tea Cake is a historical recipe enjoyed by George Washington at the end of the Revolutionary War. This old cake recipe is simple and rustic and surprisingly delicious! This cake is made without grating carrots, which means it is less labor intensive than the traditional cake. Serve it with some fresh whipped cream instead of spending the time frosting it for a simple and rustic dessert that will please everyone!

This Carrot Tea Cake is a historical recipe enjoyed by George Washington at the end of the Revolutionary War. This old cake recipe is simple but delicious!
Slices of Carrot Cake with Whipped Cream
Carrot Cake Cut into Slices with Whipped Cream

Imagine this.

It is November 25, 1783 – the American Revolution has been raging for 7 years, but has finally drawn to a close. The setting is a tavern in lower Manhattan called “The Queen’s Head” (which is about to get a name change to the “Fraunces Tavern”. One hundred of the best generals, officers, and important civilians gather with French Ambassador Luzerne and the future first president of the United States (Yup, George Washington!) to celebrate the British troops finally being evacuated from New York City. A banquet is being held to celebrate the finale of the Revolutionary War – compete with roasted lamb, sorrel soup, a tipsy squire (a dessert, not a drunk boy), and  – a carrot tea cake.

Carrot Cake with Whipped Cream

Historically Hungry – Old Recipes Made New

It’s time for another installment of Historically Hungry! This month Amy and I decided we would take a nod at Independence Day at focus on food that was served around the Revolutionary War. Amy made these amazing Frogger Cookies, which are large, chewy,  molasses based cookies that have been loved for 200 years. By random chance, we both picked recipes that originated in taverns!

Joe Frogger Cookies

Food In Revolutionary War America

Families during the 1700’s ate mostly what they grew themselves. In season meals were cooked over open fires, and instead of ovens, mothers used wood fireplaces.

Because there was no refrigeration, food was preserved though salting, pickling, drying, smoking, or canning. But other than that, they ate a wide variety of home cooked meals with what they had on hand.

Soldiers, however, didn’t eat so well – they received daily rations that included bread (often old hardtack), dry beans/peas, and some rum or beer. They ate a lot of salted and dried foods, which they would boil together to make a soup/stew. Soldiers would often hunt local wild game, they sometimes would “liberate” provisions from nearby farms or towns, as well as receiving donations from supporters and purchasing supplies themselves. (source).

In the long winter (December, 1777 – June, 1778) vegetables became obsolete and meat and bread was hard to find. Men starting eating “fire cake” which was a tasteless mixture of flour and water cooked over open fires. (Side note: Watch this video on Fire Cake. And then spiral down the rabbit hole and watch the rest of the awesome videos by Jas Townsend and Sons! I love watching him cook!)

Slices of Carrot Cake with Whipped Cream

Great Kids Books About the Revolutionary War

Jenni Ward/The Gingered Whisk is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

I always love including a few books that are great additions to the recipe – because reading and eating are my favorite things and combining them together is pretty much amazing. Just don’t spill on the book.

Did I leave out your favorite? Let me know if there is one I missed!

Tavern Carrot Cake Slices on Platter

Carrot Tea Cake Recipe

Now this carrot cake isn’t quite what you are used to, but its an amazing forebearer of what we typically make today. I love that instead of grating the carrots you cook and then mash the carrots (less labor intensive, I think!).

Its a simple, rustic cake, but beyond delicious! Make it this holiday season and share the fun history behind this cake with your friends/family.

This carrot cake is moist and flavorful, but not as overly sweet as some cakes can be. It is best served warm with some fresh and lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Slices of Carrot Tea Cake with Whipped Cream

Get Your Kids in The Kitchen

  • Kids aged 1-3 can help you measure and whisk the dry ingredients together and mix the cake batter.
  • Kids aged 4-6 can help you do all the above, plus help you peel the carrots, mash the cooled cooked carrot, prepare hte cake pan, pour the batter into the pan, and whip the cream.
  • Kids aged 7-10+ can help you do all the above!

*Please note that these recommendations are generalized, and to please use your personal discretion with your child’s skill level. And always, always supervise!

Food tastes better when its shared! If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and rate below!

Love and links are always appreciated! If you’d like to share this post, please link to this post directly for the recipe, please do not copy and paste or screenshot. Thanks so much for supporting me! xoxo

Slices of Carrot Cake with Whipped Cream

George Washington Carrot Tea Cake Recipe

This Carrot Tea Cake is a historical recipe enjoyed by George Washington at the end of the Revolutionary War. This old cake recipe is simple but delicious!
4.89 from 36 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 10 Servings
Calories: 346kcal
Author: Jenni


  • 5 carrots
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 5 large eggs room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • For serving whipped cream


  • Chop the carrots into 2" pieces and place in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water.
  • Simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20-25 minutes.
  • When the carrots are soft, remove from pan and allow to cool. When cool, mash the carrots.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees.
  • Spray a 10" springform pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter until soft and creamy, about 1 minute.
  • Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together.
  • Add to the butter/sugar mixture with the mashed carrots and mix to combine.
  • Pour into the prepared springform pan, and bake in the preheated oven for 40-60 minutes. Test with a toothpick to make sure that the cake is done.
  • Remove from oven and cool (in the pan) on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the springform and cut into slices.
  • Serve with whipped cream.
  • Enjoy!


Serving: 1g | Calories: 346kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 614mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 11g

This recipe is adapted from here and here.



  1. I love this recipe series! It’s so cool to eat things from 100s of years ago.

  2. What an amazing recipe! I love the story behind it and am always a fan of not having to stand there and grate carrots for half an hour!

  3. Patricia @ Grab a Plate says:

    This is so cool! Love this recipe idea, and the historical perspective! Really interesting!

  4. What a lovely recipe to have this morning with my cup of coffee! I bet a nice slather of butter would be nice on it too 🙂

  5. That was a fun read of the history of this glorious carrot tea cake! It looks delicious and would be fun to eat especially knowing the history!! Great recipe!

  6. I love when my food comes with history! This sounds great, I bet roasting the carrots gives it a nice sweetness. Can’t wait to try!

  7. Ashley @ Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen says:

    I love that this cake isn’t as sweet as most carrot cakes. They can be overly sweet, and I prefer them not to be. This is a fun history lesson, and a delicious way to learn about the past with the kiddos!

  8. Kiki Johnson says:

    Carrot cake without grating? That’s genius! I love old tried and tested recipes like this one and I am really curious to try this very special carrot cake!

  9. Jenny, you are speaking to my American history-loving heart! When I used to teach 4th grade, the Revolutionary War was part of the curriculum, but teaching it at that level was tough. I loved the Dear America series. They’re historical fiction novels written in diary format and the kids really enjoyed them. They’re all based around significant historical events. The Winter of Red Snow: The Revolutionary War Diary of Abigail Jane Stewart is a great one! I love this tie in with your recipe!

    1. Oh, thanks for the book recommendations! We will definitely check those out! Thanks! 🙂

  10. Gah, auto-correct changed the spelling of your name in my comment. Sorry!

  11. How interesting! And what a great way to get kids interested in history. This carrot tea cake looks and sounds so good. I want to take a bite right now with some tea. 🙂

  12. Veronika's Kitchen says:

    Carrot Cake is my #1 cake to make! I also love when the recipe is simple like this one and has a lot of flavors! This one is the winner!

  13. Nothing better than food with a story. Aaaaand Carrot Cake happens to be my very favorite of all!

  14. I love the tips for getting the kids involved! I sometimes get so nervous about how they can contribute, that I just take over and do it all myself instead! Great reminders!

  15. Kathryn @ FoodieGirlChicago says:

    What a fun story behind this recipe! It would be great for a brunch party or for afternoon tea!!

  16. Anne Lawton says:

    I love carrot cake but this looks even better! I think I will be making this real soon!

  17. I’m a huge fan of carrot cake, and yours looks incredible!

  18. Oh, I love carrot cake and yours looks so good! Thanks for that tip about not having to grate carrots. That’s the part I don’t love while making carrot anything! I hate grating them! And I’m sure it tastes divine with dollops of whipped cream. So perfect.

  19. This can not be the original recipe. Since neither baking powder nor baking soda existed at that time, what did they use as a leavening agent? Any idea?

    1. You are right, its not THE original recipe, it has been modified for modern kitchens. In the 1700’s (as far as my research has concluded), home bakers used beer yeast or whipping the egg whites to almost create a meringue in order to help their non-bread recipes not be so dense and heavy. In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, people started using pearl ash, which is obtained from wood ashes instead of yeast. And from there, baking powder and baking soda evolved!

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