New Recipe: How to make the perfect carrot cake and the common mistakes to avoid

The purpose of the carrot in your cake is to add moisture, not texture. Grate the carrots on the smaller side of your grater and your cake will be light and deliciously fluffy. 

Choose oil over butter

Irish butter is the best in the world, with no exceptions, and in most cakes it is an essential ingredient. Carrot cake follows the American method of cake baking and the result is a cake that will last for a number of days without drying out.  Choose a flavourless oil like sunflower for your cake – strongly flavoured oils like rapeseed or extra virgin olive oil are a big no-no.

The spice is right

A carrot cake is highly spiced, and that is just as it should be. With robust ingredients like wholemeal flour and brown sugar, it needs a high level of spice to cut through the rich flavours and prevent it from being sickly sweet. 

A hard rise

Carrot cake does not benefit from the extra aeration of creaming butter and sugar together like you would find in a Victoria sponge, so measure out the raising agent carefully and use exactly the amount specified. 

Do not overmix

Fold the mixture using a slicing motion, and pour into the tins when it is combined. Do not be tempted to give it one more mix – all you are doing is knocking the air out of your cake.

Cool completely before icing

Tempting though it can be, a cake covered in melted cream cheese is not pretty. Make sure that your cake is completely cooled before icing. 

Darina Allen’s Carrot Cake

This recipe for carrot cake, by far the best one I know and was given to me by a dear friend, Julia Wight. It keeps for ages.


  • 200g fine wholemeal or spelt flour
  • 3 level tsp mixed spice
  • 1 level tsp bread soda
  • 75g soft brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, preferably free-range
  • 150 ml sunflower oil
  • grated rind of 1 orange
  • 200g grated carrot
  • 110g sultanas
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 50g walnuts, chopped

For the cream cheese icing:

  • 150g cream cheese
  • 90g icing sugar
  • 90g butter
  • grated rind of 1 orange

For the glaze:

  • juice of 1 small orange
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 75g soft brown sugar

To decorate (optional):

  • Toasted flaked almonds or pumpkin seeds 


  • Two round tins (7x 3inch/17.5 x 7.5cm deep)


Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.

Put the flour, spice and bread soda into a bowl and mix well.

Whisk the eggs with the sugar and oil in another bowl until smooth.

Stir in the dry ingredients, add the orange rind, grated carrot, sultanas, coconut and walnuts. Divide between the lined tins.

Bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour until well risen and firm to the touch, checking after forty minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Mix the sugar with the orange and lemon juice in a bowl.

While the cake is still warm prick the top with a skewer, pour the glaze over the cakes and leave in the tin to cool.

Next, make the cream cheese icing. Mix all the ingredients together and spread over the top of the carrot cake.

Sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds or pumpkin seeds, crystallised if you fancy.

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