The ultimate makeover: Carrot cake

The ultimate makeover: Carrot cake

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(91 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, questions and tips

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    27th Sep, 2011
    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.
    15th Sep, 2011
    Fantastic recipe and so easy to make. I took it into work and it was a big hit. shall definatly make it again.
    13th Sep, 2011
    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.
    28th Aug, 2011
    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!
    29th Jul, 2011
    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.
    23rd Jul, 2011
    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.
    16th Jul, 2011
    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
    30th Jun, 2011
    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
    8th May, 2011
    yum, yum, yum. i used all quark for the topping, as thats all i had in, but it made not difference
    24th Apr, 2011
    Really yummy cake! Just made with philadelphia instead of Quark it was great too.


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