In my eyes, you can’t beat a good square of carrot cake on a wintery afternoon, cosied up with a blanket. Inspired by Hemsley + Hemsley’s recipe, this version is rustically warm, spicy, nutty and sweet – in all the right ways.
Plus, it contains a whole lot of delicious shredded carrot; I get so frustrated by those recipes which claim to be ‘carrot cake’ when really, they’ve only drizzled in a meagre few drops of carrot essence. Well this one won’t disappoint on the carrot front, that’s for sure!
In my many batches of this recipe, I recently experimented with adding some autumnal produce; if it’s in season, why not? One shredded apple makes a whole lot of difference when it comes to flavour and texture in this cake. Wholemeal flour gives it a crispy texture round the outsides – corner pieces all the way for me!
Now on to the plethora of spices: you’ve got your basic cinnamon, mixed spice and ginger, the nutmeg is slightly ‘exotic’ but the cardamom is where it gets really exciting. Cardamom is apparently ‘Scandinavia’s favourite spice’ and, with lots of trial in my own bakes, I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re absolutely right!
Another slightly out of the ordinary ingredient is Carotino oil – you can read all about it on their website. Basically, it’s made from red palm fruit, the one I use is their ‘healthier cooking oil’, which is 75% rapeseed oil and 25% red palm fruit. Not only does it give the cake a glorious orange colour, but it is also high in antioxidants, containing Vitamins A and E, as well as Omega 3 and 6.
The topping is made from half yogurt and half cream cheese, sweetened with honey. This gives it the flavour and texture of traditional cream cheese frosting, but halved in fat and minus the mountain of refined sugar.
Makes 1 large cake, I think best as a traybake.
FOR THE CAKE
- 300g carrots (about 2 large carrots), grated
- 100g apple (about 1 medium), grated
- 325g wholemeal plain flour (if gluten-free, opt for ground almonds instead)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for dusting over the top
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (about 6 pods)
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 3 eggs
- 75ml carotino oil (or 75ml rapeseed oil or 75g coconut oil/ butter)
- 3 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
- 5 tbsp yogurt
- 75g crushed walnuts, plus extra to decorate
- 75g raisins
FOR THE FROSTING
- 125g ‘FAGE Total 0%’ Greek yogurt (the really thick stuff)
- 125g full fat cream cheese
- 2 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Tiny pinch sea salt
FOR THE CAKE
- Set the oven to fan 180°C/Gas mark 6 and grease and line the base of your tin.
- Grate the carrots and apple, I like to do this on the second-coarsest side of a box grater, although a food processor would do the trick.
- Mix together the flour, salt, bicarb and spices in a large mixing bowl, set aside.
- Crack the eggs into another bowl, dollop in the yogurt, orange zest and juice then drizzle in the maple syrup. Give a brief whisk to combine.
- Roughly chop the walnuts then add, along with the carrot and apple gratings plus the raisins, to the bowl of dry ingredients. Give a toss to coat everything in the dry ingredients.
- Fold in the wet ingredients until well combined. Pour into the tin, before baking in the oven for about 30-40 mins, until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
FOR THE FROSTING
- Once the cake is cooled completely, begin making the frosting by combining all the ingredients. Taste along the way, adding a touch more honey or vanilla as desired.
- Ice the cooled cake, then scatter over walnut pieces and dust over some cinnamon for a little extra decadence. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, should last about a week.