egg-free and dairy-free spicy carrot, honey and pecan cake

belinda jeffery's recipes

My recipes are easy. They’re for the food I like to eat. Simple, fresh, full of flavour and just a bit different. You certainly don't need any great cooking skills for them, you just need to like food and like eating – just like me. The rest is simple.

egg-free and dairy-free spicy carrot, honey and pecan cake

I’m awfully fond of this simple cake, for unlike many low-fat cakes it's really moist and has a wonderful, homely, spicy flavour. There are no eggs in it, only 1/4 cup of oil and no dairy products - as long as you don’t ice it! (My husband would die if he read those last words I wrote, as icing is the whole point of a cake for him!). It keeps really well in the fridge (or freezer, for that matter), and is a lovely, not-too sweet treat to have with a cup of tea or coffee.

1 cup (150g) plain flour
1 1/2 cups (240g) wholemeal plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
100g pecans, roasted and coarsely chopped
40g finely sliced glacé ginger
80g raisins
about 600g carrots
1 cup (360g) honey
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
90ml freshly-squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60ml) light olive oil
1/2 cup (125g) crushed pineapple in natural juice

Honey and cream cheese icing, optional:
250g cream cheese
1/4 cup (90g) clear honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Toasted flaked coconut, to decorate

Preheat your oven to 180C. Lightly butter (or oil) a 20cm square non-stick cake tin, then line the base with baking paper.

Put the plain flour, wholemeal flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg into a large bowl. Whisk them all together for 1 minute with a balloon whisk. Add the pecans, ginger and raisins and toss them about so they're well coated in the flour mixture.

Trim and peel the carrots then grate them finely. (Many graters only have a fairly coarse side for grating. If this is the case with yours, once the carrots are coarsely grated, chop them to make them finer.) Measure out 2 firmly packed cups of grated carrot and tip it into a large bowl.

If your honey is thick, warm it gently to make it quite runny. Pour it into a bowl and stir in the orange zest and juice, vanilla extract, oil and crushed pineapple. (When I measure out the pineapple, I mainly use the flesh with just a little juice from the can). Pour this mixture over the carrots, and thoroughly mix everything together. Now add the flour mixture to the bowl and stir everything together until it’s well combined – you will end up with quite a stiff batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with a palette knife. (The sides on my pan aren’t very high - approx. 5cm - and the batter fills the tin almost to the brim.)

Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. When the cake is ready, leave it to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then carefully loosen it around the edges and gently turn it out onto the rack to cool completely. (I usually re-invert it onto another rack so it cools right-side up.)

If you’re making the icing, in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, whiz together the cream cheese, honey and vanilla until they're smooth and creamy. Scrape the icing into a bowl and keep it cool until you're ready to ice the cake.

Just before serving, transfer the cake to a serving plate and swoosh the icing with long, lazy strokes over the top, then sprinkle with coconut flakes.

Makes 1 medium-sized cake

An alternative topping

If you would rather not ice the cake, you can still make it look terrific by studding the surface of the batter with diagonal rows of pecan halves before putting the cake into the oven.


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