Carrot Cake… the quest for perfection

Personally I used to think that putting a vegetable into a cake was madness. I didn’t understand the reasoning behind it, so I sent my trusty friend Google into cyberspace to find out the origins behind the madness of adding a vegetable to cake…

A Brief History of Carrot Cake

Taken from Wikipedia

Carrots have been used in sweet cakes since the medieval period, during which time sweeteners were scarce and expensive, while carrots, which contain more sugar than any other vegetable besides the sugar beet, were much easier to come by and were used to make sweet desserts. The origins of Carrot Cake are disputed but it is thought to come from Scotland. The popularity of carrot cake was likely revived in Britain because of rationing during the Second World War.

Carrot cakes first became commonly available in restaurants and cafeterias in the United States in the early 1960s. They were at first a novelty item, but people liked them so much that carrot cake became standard dessert fare. In 2005, the American-based Food Network listed carrot cake, with its cream-cheese icing, as number five of the top five fad foods of the 1970s.

Carrot cake is often called Passion cake.

My Quest for the Perfect Carrot Cake

For many years now carrot cake has been one of my favourite desserts. There is just something about it that I absolutely adore, but until last week I have never attempted to make my own. However, after some inspiration from an article in a food magazine, last week I tried to create my own perfect slice of carrot cake heaven.

Armed with just a food processor, some ingredients, and a recipe I set out to prove that my homemade carrot cake can be just as good as the ones bought from my local supermarket. The results however were not as I hoped. The cake was very good, moist, and delicious. The icing though, wasn’t quite right. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, and complemented the cake nicely, but it just wasn’t the icing I normally would expect to find on a carrot cake.

For a first attempt though, it was good, and well worth sharing, but it wasn’t perfect, so I am sure in the coming weeks I will try again with another recipe.

Carrot Cake with Mascarpone Icing

List of cakes
Carrot Cake with Mascarpone Icing
  • Preparation time: 30 mins
  • Cooking time: 40 mins
  • Skill level: Cook


For the cake

  • 175g/6oz soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 150ml/5fl oz olive oil (not extra virgin olive oil)
  • 200g/7oz wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g/7oz carrots, peeled, coarsely grated
  • 80g/3oz pecan nuts, roughly chopped, plus extra to decorate
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 110g/4oz sultanas
  • 25g/1oz raisins
  • 50g/2oz desiccated coconut

For the icing

  • 250g/9oz mascarpone
  • 250ml/9fl oz double cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar


  1. For the cake, preheat the oven to 190C/370F/Gas 5.
  2. Lightly grease a 26cm/10in round cake tin (that’s 6½cm/2½in deep) cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
  3. Whisk the sugar, eggs and olive oil together in a large bowl using an electric hand whisk for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Sift the flour, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl,tipping in the grains left in the sieve. Stir in gently. Fold the grated carrot, pecan nuts, lemon zest, sultanas, raisins and desiccated coconut into the mixture.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 35-40 minutes. It should be nicely risen and feel firm and springy to the touch when lightly pressed in the centre; if not, cook for a little longer before cake from the tin and cooling completely on a wire rack.
  6. For the icing, place all the icing ingredients in a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Cover the bowl with cling film and transfer to the fridge for 1-2 hours, until you are ready to ice the cake.
  7. When the cake is completely cold, spread the icing over the top of the cake. Just before serving, scatter a few pecan nuts over the top of the cake and garnish with the sugared carrots.

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