This classic carrot cake is deliciously moist and squidgy, with a rich, refreshing flavour. Paired with a light whipped coconut milk frosting and white chocolate stalks, this is moreishly mouth-watering!
Carrot is quickly being overtaken by other in-vogue veggies in the vegetable-based bakes arena. In danger of being forgotten, carrot cake has been side-lined to make way for courgette sponge, beetroot cake, parsnip loaf, or mashed potato cupcakes (the latter of which I must shamefully admit to promulgating.)
But it’s important not to forget about the classics. It is for this reason that everyone needs one failsafe carrot cake recipe, and today’s recipe is exactly that. It’s impossible to get wrong. The perfect carrot cake is moist, sticky, and with a not-too-sweet frosting, flavoured with the right mix of spices and a generous helping of citrus zest.
The biggest problem is finding the perfect frosting. I’ve never felt happy with cream cheese frostings and I don’t think that buttercream frostings work well with this type of cake. This whipped coconut milk topping is perfect: light and refreshing, and a delicious flavour. Coconut and carrot are two ingredients that are never paired together but the flavours just work so well.
This is a fat-free cake. Instead it uses rapeseed oil and carrot to add moisture to the cake and coconut to create the fluffy frosting. It also uses wholemeal flour to add extra goodness but be sure to tip in all the extra bits of bran that get caught in the sieve! To give it a deep, sticky flavour, I used muscovado sugar, plus a little caster sugar to add some sweetness. You can swap muscovado with more caster sugar if that’s what you have in your cupboard and it should work just as well, but it won’t be as sticky and won’t be such a rich, dark colour. I’d also recommend using soft brown sugar if you don’t want that really distinct flavour of muscovado sugar.
To help vogue the cake up, I cut it up into twelve triangles from the round. By dying the icing orange and creating the chocolate stalks, they make really cute carrots and it’s obvious what’s inside this cake!
It is important not to forget the humble carrot cake: standing strong against a sea of troubles. Whilst tastes and food trends change, carrot cake will be the one constant, the home comfort, and the throwback to a distant past. A simple yet delicious treat that should never be side-lined.
(And it’s one of your five-a-day, right? Right?!)
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- FOR THE CAKE
- 200g wholemeal self-raising flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 100g muscovado sugar
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 120ml rapeseed oil
- Zest of 1 orange
- 200g grated carrots
- FOR THE GLAZE
- Juice of 1 orange
- 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
- FOR THE CARROT STEMS
- 50g white chocolate
- Green food colouring (oil-based)
- FOR THE TOPPING
- 400ml coconut milk (Chill in the fridge overnight, and do not shake!)
- 75g icing sugar
- Orange food colouring
- Pre-heat the oven to 170°c/325°f/gas mark 3. Line the base of a 23cm round tin with greaseproof paper.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and spices and whisk together. Set aside whilst you mix the wet ingredients.
- In another bowl, use an electric hand whisk to whisk together the sugars, eggs, and oil until frothy and combined. Add the dry ingredients, then use a large metal spoon to fold in. Next, fold in the orange zest and grated carrot.
- Pour into the prepared tin and level the top. Cook in the pre-heated oven for about 35 minutes, or until the cake is springy to the touch and when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Whilst it is baking, make the orange glaze. For this, mix together the orange juice and sugar in a small bowl. Whilst the cake is still warm, stab it all over with a skewer then pour the glaze over. Leave to cool slightly in the tin, then remove from the tin and cool fully on a wire rack.
- To make the carrot tops, melt the white chocolate in the microwave in short bursts. Add a few drops of an oil-based green food colouring, then pour into a piping bag. Snip off the end, then pipe into spiky carrot top shapes. Make them quite thick so they don’t break. Chill in the fridge for about half an hour or until set.
- For the icing, remove the coconut milk from the fridge, being careful not to shake it. Open the can and scoop out the thick coconut milk and draining off the liquid. Pour the thick milk into a cold large bowl and use an electric hand whisk to whisk it up, for about 30 seconds. Sieve in the icing sugar and whisk this in, for another 30 seconds, then add a few drops of the food colouring to achieve a pale orange carrot colour, and stir.
- Cut the cake into 12 even triangles and spread each with a generous layer of the coconut frosting. Carefully press the chilled chocolate stems into the cake, so the tops poke out. Keep in the fridge so the frosting doesn’t turn runny. ▪