Recipe: Wholesome Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Everyone knows carrot cake is just a vehicle for cream cheese frosting. I am in no way trying to be misleading when I say this cake is wholesome – it does have spelt in it. Though perhaps my reference is intended to reflect the more spiritual variety of ‘wholesome’. The type that makes you smile and feel there can be no wrong in the world.

Recipe: Nadine Ingram Photo Alan Benson

*Recipe uses a 22 cm cake tin / Serves 10–12.


150 g white spelt flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
2 eggs, separated
180 ml sunflower oil or olive oil
225 g caster sugar
200 g grated carrot
80 g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
40 g chipped coconut
40 g desiccated coconut
salt pinch

Cream cheese frosting:
250 g cream cheese, softened
100 g  unsalted butter, softened
50 g pure icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

To decorate:
2 tbsp whole walnuts, toasted
2 tbsp chipped coconut, toasted
finely grated zest of half an orange



Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a 22 cm | 26 cm round cake tin with baking paper.

Sift the flour, spices, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together into a bowl and set it aside.

Place the whole eggs and egg yolks in a bowl and lightly beat them with a fork. Reserve the egg whites for later.

Place the oil and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until they are combined. This will only take a couple of minutes (you are not looking for the sugar to dissolve). Gradually trickle in the egg, using a spatula to ensure all the egg is scraped into the batter. Increase the speed a little and beat for another 5 minutes or until the mixture is pale and fluffy and the volume has doubled.

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Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add the carrot, walnuts and both types of coconut all on top of one another and fold them through.

In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites and salt using a hand whisk until you see soft ribbons appear. Gently fold one-third of the egg whites through the carrot batter, followed by one third of the flour mixture. Continue to alternate the egg whites and flour until they are both incorporated into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 150°C and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Add another 15 minutes if you are baking the larger size. Cool the cake completely in the tin before icing.

Cream cheese frosting

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed, then increase speed to medium and continue for 10 minutes until the frosting is soft and fluffy. I can’t stress enough the importance of having both the cream cheese and the butter completely softened. If either of them are too cold they will form tiny lumps in the icing, which no amount of beating will remove.

To decorate

Using a serrated knife, slice the cooled cake in half horizontally, and spread the bottom with half the cream cheese frosting. Replace the top half of the cake and spread the remaining frosting on top. Decorate with the walnuts, coconut and orange zest.

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NOTE:  This cake will keep well for up to 3 days in the fridge. Just bring it out an hour before serving to allow it to reach room temperature.

Image result for Flour and Stone by Nadine Ingram

Extracted from Flour and Stone by Nadine Ingram, published by Simon & Schuster Australia, RRP AU$55 or NZ$65.

Photography © Alan Benson

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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