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)

    shally007's picture

    I wanted to do a carrot cake and decided on this recipe as opposed to the others as it appeared a healthier option (it had more carrots, included wholemeal flour and included less oil) I doubled the recipe to cook it in my brownie tray 40 cm x 29 cm. I also didn't measure the orange juice in which I soaked my raisins - I squeezed every last drop out of the oranges. I also added 1tsp ground nutmeg and 1tsp mixed spice and used vegetable oil instead of rapeseed oil. For the topping I opted for the 'drizzle' option as featured in the 'Yummy scrummy carrot cake recipe' but using lemon juice instead of the orange juice. The result was stunning! The cake is light, moist and utterly delicious. The raisins are plump and juicy and the drizzle top was just the right amount of sweetness. This recipe is already printed and at the front of my recipe folder. I will definitely be making this cake again.

    marjoleinbezemer's picture

    Loved this carrot cake! Since I don't eat sugar, I used 60 grams of fructose instead. Fructose caramalises quicker than normal sugar, so you can't bake it above 160C. Normally I have to adjust the recipes, but this one was perfect for using fructose! The cake was still juicy and the flavours tasted excellent.
    Thanks a lot Angela!

    eleanor7's picture

    Really moist and yummy, the topping was delicious!

    joannebesli's picture

    this sounds lovely. im going to try it this weekend.

    littlefriend's picture

    Quark is a virtually fat free (only 0.2g of fat in 100g) soft cheese. I got mine from Morrison's in London.

    karengi's picture

    I made this the other day and didn't get around to making the frosting. We all loved it, my little boys (1, 3 and 5) all thought it was fab too (even without the icing).

    It's definitely not an all-in-one recipe though! By the time I was finished I had a large pile of dirty dishes... Worth the effort though, the instructions are very clear and it came out perfectly. Lovely and moist and fruity. I think it's even better today 3 days later if you can manage to keep any for that long!

    lekkerkos's picture

    The first time I made this cake I used sunflower oil and it was absolutely delicious. The second time I used rapeseed oil as per the recipe and found the flavour of the oil overpowering and (for me at least) unpleasant in a cake, so I won't be doing that again! I'll stick to sunflower oil in the future as that much better.

    lekkerkos's picture

    The first time I made this cake I used sunflower oil and it was absolutely delicious. The second time I used rapeseed oil as per the recipe and found the flavour of the oil overpowering and (for me at least) unpleasant in a cake, so I definitely won't be doing that again! I'll stick to sunflower oil in future as it made a big difference.

    gjb1952's picture

    Can anyone tell me what size tin they used for this cake? Would a 2lb loaf tin be ok or do I need a square shallow cake tin?

    nicolakilmartin's picture

    I love, love love! Highly recommended. Ive made it twice now and it came out perfect each time. Perfect!

    azucar's picture

    Nice and moist. Recipe very easy to follow, no funny surprises. I made a double batch for colleagues, it went down very well, many requests for the recipe.
    If I made again, I'd probably want to add a little crunch to the texture - seeds, or the walnuts I think someone already suggested. Spices could be yanked up a little, as could the orange peel...
    All in all, good stuff!

    onigiri's picture

    it looks great...but what's rapeseed oil?n if quark is like creme fraiche wats the difference with soft cheese?

    muffin65's picture

    My family loved this. I used dark brown sugar and a 7 inch square tin as that was what I had. It looks a bit dry in the picture but mine came out wonderfully moist. I didn't bother with the topping as we're cutting down on fat but really did not miss it. Will make again and again - a real find. Well done! (Wish the site would use Imperial measures as well - it's a bit difficult to measure eg 15g on most scales.)

    lekkerkos's picture

    This cake is delicious! I was so surprised, as low fat baking recipes often aren't very good but this one is even better than the very good 'full fat' recipe for carrot cake I've always used.

    It's easy to make, very light, moist, tasty, and it looks good too. I am so impressed, I shall be trying more of Angela's recipes!

    (I used sunflower oil and the South African 'plump bold raisins', and made the cake in an 8" round deep cake tin instead as I don't have a square one. I also didn't make the frosting, it's great on its own without it).

    susancarrie's picture

    Excellent recipe - made this cake and took it to work for my Birthday - now all my colleagues want the recipe - very easy to make and foolproof. Tastes wonderful

    susancarrie's picture

    Excellent recipte - made this cake and took it to work for my Birthday - now all my colleagues want the recipe - very easy to make and foolproof. Tastes wonderful

    clairebowes's picture

    tasty and moreish, I substituted cranberries for the raisins and threw in a handful of broken pecans. I also added a teaspoon of grand marnier to the icing.

    wizard62's picture

    Sounds really lovely and very tempting to try but i suspect i'd add a little vanilla essence to bring out the flavour - maybe it's just me! i will give it a go
    well done

    katykris's picture

    Great recipe. I had no wholemeal flour so used white and used sunflower instead of rapeseed and the cake turned out to be lovely and moist with a nice crumb. The Quark really works as a topping and I added walnut halves on each portion before I cut it (it helps to give you some sort of idea of how much you end up eating!)
    Would make again.

    annepwheaton's picture

    As a diabetic, I really miss baking cakes. Is it possible to substitute some of the sugar with Splenda brown, or similar, please.


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