November 16, 2014


carrot and orange cake 

My sister in law recently asked me to recommend a recipe for a carrot cake, saying she found many of them too moist and oily.  I had to confess that I had never, ever made a carrot cake.  I have made cakes from parsnips, courgettes, beetroot, pumpkin and butternut squash, all of which were delicious.  But never carrots.

Anyway, a request came along for cakes for the Children in Need cake stall at work (although I retired eighteen months ago) and I had all the ingredients in stock, so the excuse was there to have a go at my very first carrot cake.

carrot and orange cake2 

I chose a recipe in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, because it only has carrot and orange flavours, no bananas, sultanas or anything else to detract from the main ingredients, apart from a little mixed spice.  Also, bearing in mind what my sister in law said, it’s made with butter, not oil.

carrot and orange cake3

There was no picture of the cake in the recipe book so I had to use my imagination a bit when decorating the cake.  The idea is that you bake the cake until it’s fairly firm, remove it from the oven and then lay orange slices on top, brush it with runny honey and put it back in the oven for another fifteen minutes or so, until it’s completely done.

I was half pleased, half disappointed with the finished cake.  It was rising beautifully when I took it out of the oven to add the orange slices and honey, but then ended up much shallower with a distinctly dense layer of cake at the bottom.  All presumably because of the removing from the oven.  The flavour was delicious and it was lovely and moist without seeming at all oily.  The orange flavour was subtle and we could also taste the honey.

I shall certainly make it again but next time I won’t bother adding the orange slices as I don’t think they improved the cake at all, will leave it to cook properly in the oven and maybe drizzle some runny honey over it as it cools, as you would with a lemon drizzle cake.  I might even try one with a cream cheese style of frosting, as in so many carrot cake recipes.

Incidentally, I spotted an error in Mary Berry’s recipe, a rare thing I think.  She lists 175g carrots in the ingredients but when it comes to the method they are simply added with the other ingredients – nowhere does it say that you should grate them!  But everyone would know that……….wouldn’t they?

carrot and orange cake4 We only made two cakes for the cake stall this year, my carrot cake and Nick’s usual coffee and walnut cake from the Hairy Bikers recipe.  He has tried several recipes, including Nigella’s but we both think this one is the best.  I wrote about it some time ago here.

So this year I only provided two cakes for the cake stall instead of my previous seven or eight, but every little helps after all.

Carrot and orange cake ingredients

1 orange

150g softened butter (I used Lurpak spreadable)

150g light muscovado sugar

175g carrots, peeled and grated

2 large eggs, beaten

200g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp mixed spice

1 tblsp milk (if needed to give a dropping consistency)

For the topping

2 tblsp runny honey


Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4.  Grease a 2lb loaf tin and line the base with baking paper, or use a liner.

Finely grate the orange rind and add to all the other cake ingredients in a large bowl.  Beat well until thoroughly blended, and transfer to the prepared tin. 

Bake for about an hour until just firm. 

While the cake is baking, prepare the orange slices by removing all the pith from the orange with a sharp knife and then slicing thinly.  Remove the just firm cake from the oven, arrange the orange slices on the top and brush with the runny honey.  Return to the oven for about 15 more minutes until done.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out, remove the baking paper or liner and cool on a rack.

Cuts into 8-10 thick slices.


  1. I would recommend using some walnut oil in carrot cake, plus chopped walnuts and some sultanas. And definitely cream cheese frosting! It's traditional and it's the best.

    1. Susan, I am inspired to try other carrot cake recipes, including the traditional ones using oil. Walnut oil sounds like a great idea. Walnuts would be good (considering the mountain of walnuts I have in France) but Nick's not keen on sultanas......although I am. And a cream cheese frosting sounds lovely.
      First I feel compelled to get this one right, then I'll expand my many recipes, so little time!

  2. I love carrot cake but the icing is my favourite, there is a nice one with mascarpone cheese which I love. Have not made one for ages thanks for the reminder how good it is :-) Have a good week Diane

  3. Love the simple sound of this recipe, Jean, though I agree with you that opening the oven door halfway through backing a cake is a recipe for definite sinking.

    PS I'm sure you mean 175 g carrots, not 17g... :-)

    1. Whoops!
      17g carrots wouldn't go very far!
      Thanks for pointing this out.....I have amended the recipe.

  4. Carrot cake is my favourite cake. I made one for the first CCC club meeting. I had fun trying a number of recipes before deciding on one. It was OK, but I agree with Susan about the walnuts and next time I'll add some walnut oil too.

  5. I love carrot cake and I bet the flavour of yours was wonderful; it's nice to see a carrot cake recipe using butter for a change. I'll have to try!

  6. I'm deeply fond of carrot cakes and I'm definitely keen on this one. I often use oil in my carrot cakes, but they don't usually taste oily - at least, I don't think so. Personally, I like a slice of carrot cake as a dessert.

  7. What a lovely cake, and i love the decoration of juicy orange rings. I don't blame you for giving up on kale cake; Mr CC and I have admitted defeat with kale full stop - it's horrid!

    1. Ah, with kale being the latest food hero, it's good to hear someone tell it like it really is!
      The Emporer's New Clothes and all that!