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)

    13teresa's picture

    Fantastic recipe and so easy to make. I took it into work and it was a big hit. shall definatly make it again.

    jacman56's picture

    I made this to help cut down the fat in our diet after my husband was told he had high colesterol. Then made it and won 1st prize at our hort and prod show! The comment from the judge was, good texture and flavour, excellent icing flavour.

    czaralee's picture

    The cake came out lovely, however the frosting was gross! I was really sharp and sour :( I'd much rather have the cake on it's own!

    keeleyl's picture

    Beautiful cake! I leave the frosting off and have it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, it really is delicious.

    I make one every month and freeze the individual portions and my daughter takes one to school in her lunch box. It stayes moist even after being frozen.

    charlotte-wood21's picture

    This has got to be one of the most yummy, moist carrot cake recipes I have tried. I made a few tweaks by adding an extra zingy teaspoon of mixed spice, replaced 40g of raisins with chopped dates, and 25ml of rapeseed oil with walnut oil for a deep, nutty flavour. The cake proved to be popular with family and friends and was gone in 3 days.

    kalinahara's picture

    Wonderful and so simple.I use low fat greek youghurt instead of the cheese for topping and it's really nice.Everyone at home loves it!Thanks

    butterfly2's picture

    Loved the cake, simple to make & turned out great. I used tofu, lemon juice, orange peel & honey as a topping for my dairy intolerant friend

    1abi111's picture

    yum, yum, yum. i used all quark for the topping, as thats all i had in, but it made not difference

    alexas25's picture

    Really yummy cake! Just made with philadelphia instead of Quark it was great too.

    bwang2's picture

    Didn't bother with the cream cheese because it was so good already! i only used 100ml of rapeseed oil but it was still moist, but to my taste, there were too many raisins.

    jennster's picture

    I made this yesterday and was reading the recipe from my phone. I hadn't read any of the reviews and so it came as a surprise to me that there should have been SR flour in the cake! I'd missed it at the end of the list, and was distracted by children. It still tastes delicious.

    sharonannhall's picture

    Lovely cake..! Now a firm family favourite! Gets requested for birthdays!! Thank you!!

    sw77's picture

    This cake was delicious and did not taste low fat. I didn't bother with the icing and just mixed icing sugar with lime juice for a tangy glaze - mmmm

    cjk1230's picture

    I made this todayin a 9" square tin which is about 2" deep. I used bran oil instead of rapeseed oil but seemed ok.

    My cake looks & smells divine but it is only about 1.5" deep.

    Is this how it is suppose to be? Can anyone advise please?

    bekahduca's picture

    I only had normal flour and it still tasted great, I have a milk allergy and cakes without milk are difficult to find but this is definitely delicious and all my guests agreed :)

    sylviauh's picture

    I so want to use this recipe but need to make it without eggs (for someone with an egg allergy). Please please tell me what I can use instead?

    lizgent's picture

    Fantastic recipe. I used all self raising wholemeal flour, only 60ml of olive oil, 120g of sugar and no topping and it still tasted great (everyone in the family agrees). The dark muscovado sugar and orange zest really make a difference in this cake.

    georgina3's picture

    Fantastic cake! Everyone loved it! I changed the oil to sunflower and did not use Quark (don't like it!) so used all cream cheese. Found it difficult to mix, very stiff but well worth the effort.

    hannaw's picture

    This is simply a wonderful recipe. I have made it three times in a week and can envisage making it at that rate for ever, even though it is a bit more of a faff than a regular cake recipe. It is light and moist and so tasty. It is also a very forgiving recipe: just as well, since I made it before 9am with my brain still asleep and forgot to add the oil till after I'd mixed in the flour. It still turned out just fine! Thank you, Angela, for the ultimate carrot cake.

    gareth66's picture

    This is absolutely delicious... I used a mix of cranberries sultanas apricots and chopped dates.


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