So before you say anything I know this isn't the healthiest recipe on this site, it is a cake after all, and are cakes meant to be healthy?? I'm on the fence with that one, a treat is a treat, right? Anyway I wanted to share this carrot cake with you for a few reasons, firstly it's Easter and this is the cake I make for Easter, secondly, my daughter has been asking me to make this for the blog for ages and I finally succumbed, blame the pressure of the school holidays! So, if you know anything about me at all you'll know that I like balance so cake definitely has a place in my life. The other thing you may know about me is that I'm not the world's best baker, there are a few things I can bake well and carrot cake is one of them. I'm happy to report that my baking skills are getting better though, we have been baking scones and muffins over the holidays and my lemon drizzle cake is a firm family favourite. So this is not a perfectly formed, Instagramable cake, however, it is a lovely cake so please don't judge it by these photos.
This carrot cake with orange cream cheese frosting is probably the best one I have made yet, it's very roughly adapted from a Donna Hay recipe from her book The New Classics. I have used wholemeal flour for this cake as I prefer carrot cake to have more of a bite to it and wholemeal flour achieves this, along with the walnuts, it also makes it a bit more wholesome I think. You could swap in white self-raising flour if you prefer and this will result in a lighter cake. I also like my carrot cake with a citrus kick so the sultanas are soaked in orange juice, this results in plump, juicy sultanas in the finished cake. The cake itself has the zest of one large orange which gives the cake a lovely hint of orange. I used the seeds from a vanilla pod in this recipe, but you could swap that for one teaspoon of vanilla extract if you wish. The orange cream cheese frosting has a nice kick of orange in it, not too much so as to overpower but again you can omit this if you wish.
This cake is moist, rich and really luxurious so it's perfect for a celebration or a family gathering. It will keep for two or three days in the fridge. It goes very well with a large mug of tea or coffee and it tastes even better the next day. I hope you have a lovely Easter and don't eat too much chocolate x
Carrot Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cake
- 350 g carrots , finely grated
- 300 g self raising wholemeal flour
- 1 level tsp baking powder
- 1 heaped tsp cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 200 g light brown muscovado sugar
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 250 ml sunflower oil
- 100 g sultanas
- The seeds from one vanilla pod
- 1 large orange The zest and juice of
- 60 g chopped walnuts + 50g for decoration
- Butter for greasing
FOR THE ORANGE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 500 g full fat cream cheese (cold)
- 100 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 200 g icing sugar
- Zest from half a large orange
- 1 tablespoon orange juice , freshly squeezed
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 356 F, I use a fan assisted electric oven, please adjust according to your own oven.
- Place the sultanas in a small bowl and cover with the orange juice, leave to sit in the juice for about 30 minutes.
- Line and grease a 20in cake tin
- Add the flour, spices, sugar and baking powder to a large mixing bowl and mix well.
- In another bowl beat the eggs, oil and vanilla together.
- Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix well, when it is incorporated fully stir in the carrots, walnuts and the drained sultanas.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 50 - 55 minutes, turning half way through cooking. The time will depend on your oven so do check the cake around the 50 minute mark.
- The cake is done when you pierce it with a metal skewer and it comes out clean.
- Leave it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool. When the cake has cooled completely cut it in half trough the middle.
- To make the orange cream cheese frosting :
- Using an electric whisk beat the butter and cream cheese together, then add the icing sugar in two batches, gently stir it in. It should be smooth and lump free.
- When the sugar has been added stir in the orange zest and juice.
- Once the cake has cooled completely spread about two thirds of the frosting on the bottom half of the cake, place the top half of the cake carefully on the frosting then spread the remaining frosting on top of the cake.
- Sprinkle the chopped walnuts around the edge of the frosting.
- Place the cake in the fridge for an hour to firm up then serve.
- Nutritional Information - is calculated using an online nutrition tool and is approximate.