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)

    245janet's picture

    Excellent! I used self raising wholemeal flour and left out the baking powder except for the pinch. the cake was wonderful and light.

    vindya's picture

    It is a very low sweet cake. It tasted ok, but cannot really say that it's a carrot cake. Tasted more like a fruit cake.
    This is very very good for someone who doesn't like too sweet.

    unanic's picture

    I have made this cake many times, I even made it as one layer in my daughter's wedding cake, and I am making a number of them as christmas presents as an alternitive to christmas cake.

    I gave it ten stars.

    tanisha's picture

    i really didn't like it, it tasted like a fruit cake, not carrot cake =(

    janemathieson001's picture

    Best carrot cake recipe ever! Had to tweek the flour ingredients as I'm wheat/gluten intolerant (severely), so used an extra spoonful of baking powder and 230g Doves Farm plain white flour. It's light, moist and utterly delicious :)

    juliebahrain's picture

    Lovely carrot cake. I took it to work for my birthday and everyone loved it.

    sarah4984's picture

    I made this for a family dinner and it tasted absolutley delicious. It was my first attempt at making a cake and I haven't stopped since!!

    verityrose's picture

    Excellent recipe. Forgot to add the sugar while beating the eggs, so I added them afterwards. Still works! I was worried when the batter was stiff but it is fine. To make it even healthier I left out the icing. Delicious.

    jonboy's picture

    this cake was so easy, i'm only just getting into the home cooking thing and what have i been missing?
    the list of ingredients are missing a couple of things, although listed in the method(but not the self raising flour!), thank heaven for reviews as someone said what the missing ingredients were,
    the out come of the cake is LUSH!! plenty of quark and soft cheese left over so will need to make it again so these are not wasted!!

    tydrawirafon's picture

    Made this the other day from the recipe in the Mag (Sept 08) Its the nicest carrot cake ever, so moist and light and the raisins soaked in orange juice were sooo juicy. I'm a novice and really suprised myself by how delicious this was - much much better than any shop bought and I made it !!!
    Remember the eggs and SR Flour (they are mentioned in the Method), and I used light brown sugar as its what I had in.
    Quark is a virtually fat free soft cheese - if you are in the UK I got a 250g tub in Morrisons.
    Well done Angela Nilsen for a lovely healthier recipe.

    goodkevin_g's picture

    I made this yesterday; absolutely delicious! Lovely and moist and the frosting is divine.

    alisontait's picture

    Yes, there are definitely a couple of ingredients missing from the list, Good Food team....

    unanic's picture

    Twe eggs and 115g self-raising flour are missing from the list of ingredients, I have made this cake many times and it is to die for even without the frosting,it is a healthy carrot cake.

    spaghettialaguiness's picture

    I'll definitely give this a try. Quark cheese is similar to fromage frais. I'll be using Philadelphia.

    tyshae's picture

    Definitely making this carrot cake, much less fat than my recipe! What is Quark ? Never seen it in my country.

    sheppy's picture

    A new carrot cake! I do have a soft spot for carrot cakes - one to try this weekend I think.


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