11 January 2015

Healthy Carrot Cake

Yes, carrot cake can be healthy and tasty! Spiced carrot cake sweetened with honey and brown sugar and full of fibre. 

Carrot cake; notorious for being high in sugar and fat. Not this cake though. Spicy, tender and flavourful, this healthy cake could fool anyone. Topped with a creamy orange frosting, this cake is delicious!

This is the 2nd recipe in your month of healthy recipes, perfect for the new year resolutioners. Our first recipe was a super quick and invigorating smoothie, great for any time, but now I wanted to bake something, something healthy and still full of flavour. Who says healthy is boring? 

This cake is so easy to make and really quick too, it just takes time to bake. It took me 5 minutes to mix up the batter but this cake does take 1 hour to bake. But...during the baking time, you can just get on with your everyday life. When a cake takes 15-20 minutes to bake, I always seem to hover around the oven for that length of time but when a cake takes 45+ minutes, I get on with other jobs and duties.

Weird right!?

What makes carrot cake not so healthy is normally the amount of sugar and oil it contains. Looking at the average carrot cake, it contains 330ml oil and a whooping 400g sugar! But hold on, that is just the cake! The frosting is usually a cream cheese frosting, containing butter, cream cheese (full fat) and icing sugar. 330g of cream cheese as well as 225g butter really does make this cake not health food, even though vegetables are involved. 

Okay, I would like you to prepare for this....

Ina Garten's carrot and pineapple cake contains....

Wait for it...


1,470 calories PER slice!!!

and 90g of fat...

and 120g sugar...

This cake however, only contains 3 tbsp (45ml) of oil and a tiny 85g brown sugar. Instead of sweetening the cake entirely with sugar, I decided to go a bit more natural and use organic honey. Normally, I am not the keenest on the taste of honey but I used it in this cake as there are so many more flavours; cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, carrots etc, to disguise the floral taste. 

Surprisingly I did not notice or miss the normal amount of oil called for in a cake like this; oil adds moisture and tenderness but sometimes, a carrot cake can be a bit on the "greasy" side. As carrots are moisture-giving ingredients in baking, could I just up the amount of carrots and decrease of oil?   
I decreased the oil dramatically and up the carrots but I was missing the structure and body of the cake. It was too weak and flat. 

Back to the drawing board!

Flour adds structure and gluten; if the gluten is worked for a long period of time, it begins to toughen the mixture and becomes elastic. Eggs are perfect for adding a more substantial texture so I added an extra egg, more flour as well as a dollop of strained greek yogurt to the cake.

I was so happy with the results!

Moist yet light, this carrot cake is perfect. It gets even better with a healthy frosting. 

Ready for the topping? O% greek yogurt and icing sugar are the base ingredients and I was so happy that it actually tasted good! I used Fage total yogurt as it is extremely thick and holds its shape well; no runny frosting here. Flavoured with orange and vanilla, it pairs so nicely to the spiced cake and is a light, fresh contrast. 

Any ideas for traditional recipes for a healthy makeover? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

Healthy Carrot Cake
Posted by Eve
Makes 1 cakes, serves 8-10

  • 3 eggs, free-range and at room temperature
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 40g honey, organic 
  • 3 tbsp. oil, like a mild olive oil or rapeseed
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder 
  • 250g carrots, topped, tailed and peeled
  • 50g 0% greek yogurt
  • 125g plain wholewheat flour
  • 50g plain flour
For the frosting
  • 140g 0% greek yogurt, I used Fage total yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 30g icing sugar
  • zest of 1/2 orange

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºc/ 160ºc fan/ gas mark 3 and grease and flour a 900g loaf tin. 
  2. Put the eggs, sugar, honey and oil into a large bowl and whisk well for 2-3 minutes until lighter in texture. Add the spices, salt and baking powder and mix for another 1-2 minutes. 
  3. Using the smallest grating holes on the grater, grate the carrot and place into a clean tea towel. Over the sink, squeeze out the excess carrot juice to leave behind drier carrot pieces. 
  4. Add the carrot to the wet ingredients and whisk well. Pour in the 2 types of flour and mix with a spoon until nearly combined, lumps are okay!
  5. Spoon into the prepared tin and level the top. Bake for 60 minutes until risen, golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. 
  6. Leave the loaf to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the frosting, put the yogurt into a bowl and beat well until smooth. Add the vanilla, orange zest and sieve in the icing sugar. Beat again until smooth and uniform. Chill until needed. 
  8. When the cake is cold, put it onto the serving dish and top with the frosting and any other decorations.


This cake should be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days. 


  1. Love this! My husband adores carrot cake, and I love the idea of making it lighter!

    1. That's great, I hope you both love this as much as I do! x

  2. 1400 calories per slice? OMG I die. LOVE LOVE LOVE this lightened up version instead :)

    1. I know right?! I was super shocked; this version is a bit more "manageable" if that makes any sense!

  3. My boyfriend LOVES carrot cake and I love that I can make a healthier version for him with this.

    1. I hope your boyfriend loves this recipe! x


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