I designed my healthy carrot cake recipe when I opened The Healthy Chef Café in Avalon Beach in Sydney, Australia. It was a hangout for moms, kids, yogis, supermodels and pro surfers — a place where a variety of people could get nourished and feel great.
This cake has over one pound of fresh grated carrot, so it’s packed with goodness and fiber. The large amount of carrots in this recipe also helps to keep the cake moist, which is important due to the longer baking time.
When making gluten-free cakes, I find ground almonds make a great replacement for the usual white refined flours that you’ll find in most cakes. Almonds boost protein in the recipe and they’re packed with vitamin E. I’ve also used extra virgin olive oil in order to give this cake a luxurious flavor. In the winter, I like to add a handful or two of plump raisins, which adds a little sweetness and marries the carrot and spices perfectly. You can also use fresh blueberries instead of raisins when they’re in season.
Spread the cake generously with a thick, strained Greek style yogurt called labna. It’s easy to make on your own, and is a wonderful topping to both sweet and savory dishes.
WHAT’S GREAT ABOUT IT
- 500 g (16 oz) raw carrots, grated
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 350 g (3 1/2 cups) almond meal
- 60 ml (2 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
- 160 g (1/2 cup) pure maple syrup or raw honey
- 150 g (1 cup) raisins
- 2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
MAPLE VANILLA FROSTING (see notes)
- 500 g (16 oz) strained Greek Style yoghurt (labna) or cream cheese
- 6 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F), fan forced
- Combine carrot, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond meal, olive oil, maple syrup, raisins and baking powder into a large mixing bowl
- Mix well by hand until combined
- Pour the cake batter into a lined 25 cm (10 inch ) baking tin
- Bake for 80 – 90 minutes or until cooked through. Cover if necessary with foil half way through cooking to prevent burning
- Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool for 1 hour in the tin before turning out
- Combine labna or cream cheese, maple syrup and vanilla in a bowl and mix until smooth and creamy
- Spread frosting over the carrot cake and garnish if you like with some lightly roasted walnuts
NOTES + INSPIRATION: For larger cakes, double this recipe and divide between 4 x 20 cm (8 inch) cake tins – enough to get four even layers. Sandwich cakes together with frosting and enjoy.
Ricotta can be used in place of the labna and cream cheese. Just combine the same amount of ricotta with half the amount of maple syrup and vanilla. Whisk or blend using a food processor until smooth and creamy, adding a splash of water if needed then use as directed.
For a dairy free topping, dollop the carrot cake with coconut yoghurt or whipped coconut cream.
To make your own Labna:
- Sit a strainer, lined with a piece of muslin, over a bowl
- Spoon 1 kg (2.2 LB) of the yogurt into the muslin, cover loosely
- Strain in the fridge for 24 hours. The next day remove the yogurt cheese and drain the liquid (whey) (This can also be used as a probiotic rich ingredient for your favorite smoothies)
“My main goal at The Healthy Chef is to get people cooking and eating healthier. Eat natural foods, focus on fresh fruits and vegetables and just keep it simple.” — Teresa Cutter