I’m going to be straight with you, dear readers. Carrot cake is not my favorite type of cake. And honestly, most times it’s not a cake I would choose. Usually I think the frosting is too sweet and the cake is too spicy and not to mention the raisins… I like carrot cake, but I knew there was a lot more potential in there than most of them could offer.
So I made my own. And while I was at it, I thought I would play around with natural, non-sugar sweeteners. Because carrot cake is pretty moist (or should be), I knew that I wouldn’t be ruining everything by trying liquid sweeteners like honey and agave syrup.
I’m not cutting sugar entirely, though I am experimenting more with replacing it with other sweeteners. I’m not into the whole sugar replacers… no matter what the marketing says, I feel like I can still pick out the taste of sweetener, so I avoid it.
Note: Honey has a higher glycemic index agave syrup, if that’s something you need to worry about. Funnily enough, though, agave syrup tastes sweeter than honey. I tried both at the same proportions, and thought they both made for good, not overly sweet cakes. In other recipes where the amount of liquid/dry ingredients is more essential, it’s worth knowing that agave syrup is less viscous than honey, so you might need to cut the proportion of other liquids.
On the Counter
150g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
100g honey OR 100g agave nectar
3 free-range eggs
200g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg
200g carrots, peeled
100g (1 cup) walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Set aside 30 grams (1/3 cup) of walnuts for decorating
9 x 2 1/2 inch or 23 x 6 cm springform pan
230 mL/1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp real maple syrup
30 g walnuts set aside from cake
What to Do
Grate the carrots, preferably so the shreds are very small. (This is easier to do with fresher carrots, but carrot cake is a good use for slightly sad carrots… up to you.)
Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F. Grease the inside of your springform pan with butter.
Whisk the melted butter, egg and honey or agave together until they are well combined and are very slightly bubbly.
Sift in all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt).
Carefully fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a rubber spatula. If you do this carefully, you’re less likely to get flour lumps. Stir in the carrot and walnuts.
Once you have a solid colored batter and the carrot is evenly distributed, gently pour the batter into the springform pan. It should pour evenly into the pan, but if it’s not even, gently spread it out with the rubber spatula.
Bake for 30 minutes. You can test if it’s done by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s ready.
Let the finished rest until it’s completely cooled. (Not even a little bit warm!) Remove it from the pan and then gently slice off any of the top of the cake that stops it from being flat. Eat your spoils.
Vigorously stir the maple syrup into the sour cream until well combined and the cream is smooth. Gently spoon or spread it on top of the cake, using the back of the spoon (or frosting spreader) to make sure it goes on evenly.
Sprinkle on the rest of the toasted walnuts. Serve!
The cake and frosting keep well in the fridge for at least 3 days.