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The Ultimate Carrot Cake  

Ultimate Carrot Cake

I have been making carrot cake for years, and each time it seems to improve with a little tinkering here and there. This one has been unanimously voted the best ever!



  • 7oz (200g) carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 4oz (11Og) pecan nuts
  • 6oz (175g) dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5f1 oz (150ml) sunflower oil
  • 7oz (200g) wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 4oz (11Og) sultanas
  • 2oz (50g) desiccated coconut


  • 9oz (250g) mascarpone
  • 7oz (200g) 8 per cent fat fromage frais
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 rounded tablespoon golden caster sugar


  • Juice of 1 small orange
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3oz (75g) dark brown soft sugar

You will also need two 8in (20cm) sponge tins, 1½in (4cm) deep, lightly greased, bases lined with baking parchment

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 400F (200C).

First, place all the pecan nuts on a baking sheet and, using a timer, toast them in the oven for 6-8 minutes. When you have toasted the nuts, turn the oven down to gas mark 3, 325F (1 70C) for the cake.

Now chop one half of the nuts roughly for the cake, and the other more finely, for the topping later.

To make the cake, whisk the sugar, eggs and oil together in a bowl with an electric hand whisk for 2-3 minutes, then check that there is no sugar left undissolved. Now sift the flour, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl, tipping in the bits of bran left in the sieve. Then stir all this in gently, followed by the remaining cake ingredients.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared tins and bake the cakes on the centre shelf of the oven for 30 minutes. They should be nicely risen, feel firm and springy to the touch when lightly pressed in the centre, and show signs of shrinking away from the sides of the tin. If not, give them another 2-3 minutes and test again.

Meanwhile, make the icing by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl until light and fluffy.

Then cover with clingfilm and chill for 1-2 hours, until you are ready to ice the cakes.

To make the syrup glaze, whisk together the fruit juices and sugar in another bowl and then, when the cakes come out of the oven, stab them all over with a skewer and quickly spoon the syrup evenly over the hot cakes.

Now leave them on one side to cool in their tins, during which time the syrup will be absorbed. Then, when the cakes are completely cold, remove them from the tins. Spread one third of the icing over one of the cakes, place the other on top, then cover the top and sides with the remaining mixture. Scatter the finely chopped toasted pecan nuts over the top just before serving.