Carrot cake with brown sugar vanilla frosting (Photo: Emma Boyd)
Carrot cake with brown sugar vanilla frosting (Photo: Emma Boyd)

FoodMarch 7, 2021

Recipe: Carrot cake with brown sugar vanilla frosting

Carrot cake with brown sugar vanilla frosting (Photo: Emma Boyd)
Carrot cake with brown sugar vanilla frosting (Photo: Emma Boyd)

Times like these call for an enormous great slice of carrot cake – and this is an absolute beauty.  

It seems appropriate, as the seasons shift and the leaves start to turn from green to orange and from orange to brown, that I share this recipe for carrot cake. I love the earthiness of carrot cake, its beautifully moist crumb and how it feels substantial and wholesome, like it might almost pass as breakfast. If, unlikely though it might be, you do find yourself with any cake left after the visitors have gone and the house is once again quiet, then resist the urge to polish it off. Instead wait until after you’ve digested your evening meal then slice and fry in plenty of butter and serve in a deep bowl with a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream – it makes a most wonderful dessert.   


  • butter for greasing the tin
  • 100g Medjool dates, pits removed, cut into small pieces (regular dates are fine also)
  • 4 large free-range eggs
  • 1 cup (250ml) olive oil 
  • 450g carrots, peeled, grated (4 cups)
  • 100g (½ cup) sugar (I used rapadura but any type of sugar is fine)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 185g (1¼ cups) wholemeal flour
  • 150g (1 cup) white flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 100g Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or rapadura)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a 22cm springform tin with butter. Put the dates into a heatproof jug or bowl, pour over ½ cup boiling water and set aside.

Put the eggs in a large bowl and lightly beat. Add the oil, carrots, sugar and vanilla extract and mix to combine. Stir in the dates and their liquid.

In a separate bowl combine the flours, baking soda, spices, salt and walnuts and whisk together. Add this to the wet ingredients before mixing until just combined.

Pour into the greased tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer when inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to sit for 10 minutes before taking out of the tin and cooling on a cake rack.

While the cake cools, put the cream cheese, yoghurt, sugar and vanilla into a small bowl. Using a stick blender, blend until smooth. Once the cake is cool enough, ice with the cream cheese mixture before serving. 

The Spinoff’s first-ever food newsletter is here. Written by Charlotte Muru-Lanning and produced in partnership with Boring Oat Milk, The Boil Up is your weekly catch-up on what’s happening in our diverse and ever-changing culinary landscape, covering the personal, the political and the plain old delicious.

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Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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