The ultimate makeover: Carrot cake

The ultimate makeover: Carrot cake

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(114 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

  • sponge only

Nutrition: per serving

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


    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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    libby0's picture
    2nd Nov, 2012
    Can't believe its healthy. VERY delicious. Everyone who has tasted it wants the recipe. I am delighted to have discovered quark. Best frosting ever and the cake is so light. YUM!
    31st Oct, 2012
    Wow! Absolutely gorgeous!
    8th Sep, 2012
    Fantastic ! Made this for my Goddaughters 2nd birthday party, the kids didn't get a look in as the adults scoffed the lot ! I don't eat my cakes very often (just love baking) but even I went back for seconds. Substituted Philli light for Quark (local shops don't stock it), and grated a large orange for topping along with some of it's juice. Been told to make it for the next family get together !
    7th Sep, 2012
    This is a truly great carrot cake recipe, very easy to follow and on the few occasions I have made it its been consistently good. I had a carrot cake bake off with my mother in law who thinks she can cook. This one won hands down.
    29th Aug, 2012
    A lovely light cake - didn't bother with icing and just ate it without. Used s.r. wholemeal flour as had no plain, reduced the baking powder by half, used light olive oil and sultanas. Also split mixture into loaf tins as didn't have the one stated, and froze one cake for later, cut each into 8 squares and enjoyed as a fab treat with a cuppa!
    21st Aug, 2012
    Hello Angela, I would like to make this recipe but am not sure about the ingredients. Please clarify. Is self-rising flour used in addition to the already listed flour? How many eggs are there? thanks
    7th Jul, 2012
    Just made this cake and it is delicious! I used sultanas instead and they really give it that ZING! Very light and moreish! Perfect for our BBQ tomorrow. However I did not use their suggested icing and it is perfect (and healthier without!!) True Genius
    27th Jun, 2012
    Made this cake with a few tweeks and loved it! used sunflower oil as didnt have rapeseed, light brown muscavado sugar, and sultanas. May up the cinnamon next time as couldnt taste it. Used philly, butter and icing sugar for icing with a teaspoon of vanilla. Cake also took alot longer to cook in my over, just kept checking it till it was done. Will definately make this cake again :-)
    25th May, 2012
    This is a fab recipe. I added some fresh pineapple and another time, a few provencal glace cherries. Both good. I also used a little agave syrup instead of sugar. Even more healthy.
    12th May, 2012
    this recipe is absolutely brilliant cake tastes beautiful and is very simple to make.


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