This carrot cake recipe was borne, as the best recipes often are, out of necessity and a mixture of what was left over in my pantry and fridge. It was a rainy day, with a rainy weekend forecast to follow, and it was just the sort of weather that called for cinnamon-y baked goods. Unfortunately, if you're sticking to your health goals, cinnamon-y baked goods can feel a little off limits.
The good news is that aside from the icing, which contains icing sugar, this carrot cake is completely refined sugar free. Without much adjustment at all you could make it dairy free too and with greater kitchen skills than I can boast, substituting a flax egg would make it vegan.
And the taste?
Honestly, I sort of thought it was going to taste awful, as “healthy baking” can be: dry, flavourless, and “healthy” tasting but I could not have been more wrong. The result is a very dense, sweet (but not overly) and more-ish carrot “mud” cake, not at all big and fluffy, but a little goes a long way.
It’s super easy to whip up and throw in the oven, and makes your kitchen smell amazing to boot.
I have a feeling this carrot cake recipe going to be a last-minute go-to baking treat.
If you’re a health nut, you’ve usually got these things floating about in your pantry/fridge anyway (and I can often rustle up a few admittedly aging carrots out of my veggie crisper at any given moment). If not, you could easily swap out the more exotic ingredients like coconut oil, almond meal, rice malt syrup and coconut flour for more mainstream staples in a pinch.
Right, enough chatter. On with the recipe.
PREP TIME | 30 minutes BAKE TIME | 40 minutes YIELD | 12 slices
2 large eggs (organic free range) 1 cup low fat natural Greek yogurt (I love Chobani) 1/3 cup coconut oil 1/3 cup honey 1/3 cup coconut sugar ½ cup milk of your choice 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract 1/3 cup almond meal 1/3 cup oats, whipped up in the food processor into flour (use contaminant-free oats or substitute with coconut flour if you’re strictly gluten free/Coeliac) 1 + 1/3 cup wholemeal self raising flour (or gluten free if you're intolerant) 1 tbsp cinnamon powder 3 tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt 1 cup walnuts, chopped 2 cups carrots, finely grated
½ cup coconut oil a dash of vanilla essence 2-4 cups icing sugar chopped walnuts shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease a 20 cm spring form cake tin with butter or coconut oil.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg for 10 seconds before adding in the rest of your “wet” ingredients: yogurt, oil, maple syrup, milk and vanilla extract. Whisk well until combined and set aside.
Add dry ingredients (almond meal, oat flour, coconut flour, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt) to the wet and stir gently until just combined. It’s important not to over mix or the cake will end up a dry old argument!
Add carrots and walnuts to the mixture and stir until just combined. The less “perfect” you try to be, the better. I love recipes that speak to my crazy hot messiness in the kitchen.
Pour into previously prepared cake tin and bake 35 to 40 minutes (check through the closed oven door after 30), or when your kitchen starts to smell like cinnamon heaven.
When done, remove from the oven. Leave in pan for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely (in an ideal world, wait at least 4-5 hours).
To make the icing, add coconut oil, vanilla essence and icing sugar to a medium-large bowl. I like to add my icing sugar gradually, starting with 2 cups, until I get the texture I like. Beat with electric beaters until it takes on a “whippy”, stiff peak, butter cream texture.
Spread the icing evenly over your completely cooled cake. (NB: If the cake is not properly cooled down, the icing will simply melt into it and vanish. I like to pop my cake into the fridge for the last hour of cooling time so it’s completely chilled before schmearing it with icing.)
Garnish by sprinkling shredded coconut and chopped walnuts over the top and pop into the fridge to set.
I recommend enjoying this as I did, on a cozy rainy day indoors with freshly brewed hot coffee and good company.