Carrot Cake



I thought it might be fun to do a “weekend bake” post every Friday, but then I remembered I’ve never got into the habit of baking a cake specifically for the weekend. I just bake when I feel like it, when I’ve got a bit of time and (very important this) when I know there are enough people around to eat my offering before it goes stale. There was a time when I’d bake something at least twice a week for when the children returned home from school.

Yesterday I saw a window and, having checked that I had all the ingredients in the pantry (I haven’t got a pantry but you know what I mean), I put my apron on and went for it.

I made Geraldene Holt’s carrot cake, which featured on Woman’s Hour two or three years ago. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be online anymore and I haven’t got her cake book, so I am very glad I had saved the recipe to Evernote. I’m no carrot cake expert but I do know that today’s incarnations are American in origin. Holt’s recipe veers a little from that by using melted butter instead of oil, but otherwise it seems to me to be authentic, all the way to the cream cheese frosting.


  • 150g butter
  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 175g carrots, grated as finely as you can (I don’t bother to peel them but feel free to do so if you prefer)
  • Finely grated zest of half an orange
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 120g seedless raisins
  • 60g pecans, chopped (or walnuts)
  • 3 tbsp milk

For the frosting

  • 45g cream cheese
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 1-2 drops vanilla extract


  • Butter and base-line (I use bake-o-glide) a 9 inch/23cm square tin
  • Melt the butter in a small bowl on the back of the Aga, or in a mixing bowl in the microwave
  • Beat the sugar, carrots, orange zest and eggs together with the melted butter
  • Fold in the flour sieved with the baking powder, spices and salt
  • Add the raisins, pecans and milk and mix until well combined
  • Tip the mixture into the prepared cake tin and level with the back of a spoon
  • Bake in the baking oven, with the rack on the floor of the oven, (or at 180ºC in a conventional oven) until the cake is springy in the middle and a skewer comes out clean. It takes just 30-35 minutes in my Aga. Holt gives a baking time of 60 minutes
  • Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool
  • To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese until smooth, then gradually blend in the icing sugar until it’s spreadable. Add vanilla extract and spread over the cake. This makes a thin layer of icing, which is plenty, but this time, I used up the cream cheese I had left in the pot which turned out to be 75g. I just kept adding icing sugar until I felt the frosting was the right consistency. I know it’s naughty and unhealthy, but I enjoyed the cake even more with the thicker layer of frosting. As you can see, I “decorated” mine with pecan nuts.

This can be eaten straight away or left for a couple of hours to let the frosting set. To serve, cut it into squares.