The ultimate makeover: Carrot cake

The ultimate makeover: Carrot cake

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(89 ratings)

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 1 hr


Cuts into 16 squares
Angela Nilsen rethinks traditional ingredients and baking techniques to create a healthier version of a classic

Nutrition and extra info

  • Cake only

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal217
  • fat9g
  • saturates1g
  • carbs31g
  • sugars21g
  • fibre2g
  • protein4g
  • salt0.52g
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    For the cake

    • 1 medium orange



      One of the best-known citrus fruits, oranges aren't necessarily orange - some varieties are…

    • 140g raisin
    • 125ml rapeseed oil
    • 115g plain wholemeal flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder, plus a pinch
      Baking powder

      Baking powder

      bay-king pow-dah

      Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

    • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
      Bicarbonate of soda

      Bicarbonate of soda

      Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, is an alkali which is used to raise soda breads and full-…

    • 1 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
    • 140g dark muscovado sugar
    • 280g finely grated carrot (about 375-400g carrots before peeling)



      The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

    • 2 eggs



      The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

    • 115g self-raising flour

    For the frosting

    • 100g light soft cheese, straight from the fridge
    • 100g Quark



      This is a soft, smooth curd cheese with a refreshingly light acidity. It ranges from low-fat…

    • 3 tbsp sifted icing sugar
    • ½ tsp finely grated orange zest
    • 1 ½ tsp lemon juice


    1. Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. For the cake, finely grate the zest from the orange and squeeze 3 tbsp of juice. Pour the juice over the raisins in a bowl, stir in zest, then leave to soak while you make the cake. Lightly oil and line the base of a deep 20cm square cake tin. Mix the flours with 1 tsp baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon.

    2. Separate one of the eggs. Put the white in a small bowl and the yolk in a large one. Break the remaining whole egg in with the yolk, then tip in the sugar. Whisk together for 1-2 mins until thick and foamy. Slowly pour in the oil and continue to whisk on a low speed until well mixed. Tip in the flour mix, half at a time, and gently stir it into the egg mixture with a rubber spatula or big spoon. The mix will be quite stiff. Put the extra pinch of baking powder in with the egg white and whisk to soft peaks.

    3. Fold the carrot, raisins (and any liquid) into the flour mixture. Gently fold in the whisked egg white, then pour into the tin. Jiggle the tin to level the mixture. Bake for 1 hr until risen and firm or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin 5 mins, turn out onto a wire rack, peel off the paper, then leave until cold.

    4. To make the frosting, stir the soft cheese, Quark, icing sugar and orange zest together - don't overbeat. Stir in the lemon juice. Swirl the frosting over the cake and cut into 16 square. This cake is even better if left well wrapped for a day or two before icing and eating. Will keep up to 5 days uniced in an airtight tin, or in the fridge if iced.

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    Comments (136)

    dave6376's picture

    Very nice and easy to make but since when did we have "frosting" in Britain? Don't you mean icing?

    wendygal's picture

    i did not find quark so I used ricotta ... turned out really wekk just the same ;)

    wendygal's picture

    Thanks Angela Nilsen ... this is a really good cake, i loved it and everyone did! :)

    freyagamlen's picture

    I make this recipe often. However I just tried it with finely grated squash instead of carrot, and without the raisins or orange juice. It is decliiously moist and I would definitely recommend it! Just a tip - if you're going to beat your egg yolks, sugar, oil etc with an electric whisk, whip up the egg whites first so you don't have to clean the grease off half way through baking!

    sherreemills's picture

    Tasty, light and easy to cant ask for more from a cake!!

    missymisfit's picture

    Loved this cake. Made it for my partner for his bday and then after as I had some ingredients left over!! I actually prefer this cake to the more fattening versions and to the cake higher rated than this one. You can't tell at all that this is lower fat than usual- lovely!

    mrsted's picture

    Never made carrot cake before and must admit it was a bit of a faff.
    Used ordinary plain flour and vegetable oil as it was all I had. Mixture was very solid until I added the eggs, raisins etc but it came out beautifully, very moist.
    Did not add topping and ate it as it was, may try adding some mixed spice next time.
    Will definietly make again.

    clairegiff's picture

    I've just made this cake this afternoon and I'm not a very confident person when it comes to cooking but this is really lovely. Even my teenage daughter said how much she loved it and she isn't very forthcoming where compliments are concerned!!!

    susanwilsongaunt's picture

    have made this cake several times now, easy and worked out great every time- no need to bother with the topping if you really want a less fat option. really delicious , definately a favourite in our house

    brenda6612's picture

    WOW this cake is lovely, really moorish. I added mixed spice to give it that something extra. Will definately be doing this again.

    lou-la-belle's picture

    Very happy with this - my first attempt at a carrot cake. The dough started off very dense and I was a bit worried, but with the addition of the soaked raisins and the whisked egg white it softened again. Didn't bother with the frosting.

    bakingnut's picture

    Not tried this yet but to answer the Quark question, it is a very low fat alternative to soft cheese, I replace with it all time and honestly no one can tell, it is slightly less creamy than soft cheese like Primula but loads less fat and calories.
    It may help to google unfamiliar terms.
    Rapeseed oil is dead common in UK supermarkets it is the veg oil I prefer as again lighter in fat and calories, I think. Baking is all about experimenting so go with your usual veg oil and see what you think.
    Happy Baking!!

    alisonmary's picture

    Can someone tell me what Quark is please?

    I presume it's an American term. Rapeseed oil is not a common ingredient either. Can it be replaced by Grape seed oil?



    manly49's picture

    This is the best cake recipe ever. For once, I was organised and soaked the raisins (actually, they were sultanas - so I wasn't 100% organised) overnight. All the liquid had gone, so I added the quantity all over again when I began to make the cake. It was fantastic!!!! And the frosting is the best I've ever tasted. If I could give it 10 stars, I would.

    alisonpg's picture

    Wonderful cake but the topping was not nice, tasted like flavoured soft cheese (which of course it is!) and spoilt the lovely cake. Fortunately I only iced half and have kept the other half un-iced. I will be baking the cake again, but either topping free or with a different topping.

    danielamacdonald's picture

    I just made this, and though delicious and moist, I agree with others in saying it's more of a fruitcake than carrot cake, and quite a bit heavier.
    Will make it again though.

    emacie's picture

    Made this in the weekend, turned out delicious but not really a carrot cake... Will make again because but not for the carrot taste.

    lekkerkos's picture

    Absolutely delicious cake - one of my regulars and everyone always loves it, light and tasty (good to know it's light and healthy too!) A few changes though - I don't separate the eggs (too fiddly!) but instead beat whole egg with the sugar in one go, it still works as well. Use sultanas instead of raisins (sweeter) and sunflower oil instead of rapeseed. I also don't make the frosting, no-one misses it and the cake disappears in no time! :-)

    jitkad's picture

    Our favourite. Love it

    manly49's picture

    Although this was a bit fiddly, I was really glad I'd made it. It's delicious, light and moist, and the icing is just lovely. Make sure you have all the ingredients prepared in advance and lined up, waiting to be added to the mixture. I didn't change a thing in the recipe, and it worked so well. Perhaps I'll add a few chopped walnuts next time. But it's great as it is.


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