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Carrot cake

There’s nothing better than tucking into a slice of classic carrot cake, whether for a tasty afternoon treat or scrumptious dessert. Try this light and moist cake, spiced with cinnamon, topped with thick creamy frosting, crushed walnuts and seeds, and a sprinkle of carrot to finish.

  • 20 minutes prep. time
  • 25–30 minutes cooking time
  • Serves 12
  • Cakes, bakes & desserts, Vegetarian & vegan
Carrot cake topped with creamy frosting, sunflower seeds and walnuts
Tuck into a slice of this classic carrot cake topped with creamy frosting, sunflower seeds and walnuts | © National Trust Images/William Shaw


For the cake

  • 220g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla flavouring
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400ml vegetable oil
  • 500g carrots, grated
  • 75g walnut pieces

For the frosting

  • 400g icing sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 125g cream cheese

For the topping

  • 20g walnut pieces
  • 20g pumpkin seeds
  • 2g caraway seeds
  • 10g sunflower seeds
  • 150g carrots, julienne
  • 50g caster sugar


Step 1

For the cake

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan/gas mark 4). Place the sugar, eggs and vanilla flavouring in a large bowl.

Step 2

Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in another bowl. Use a spoon to mix together.

Step 3

Whisk the sugar, eggs, and vanilla together until light and fluffy. With the whisk going, gradually pour in the oil. Once all has been added, stop whisking.

Step 4

Tip the flour mixture into the oil mixture and fold through. While still quite lumpy, add the carrots and chopped walnuts. Continue to mix until evenly combined.

Step 5

Make the carrot cake in two 23cm loose-bottomed baking tins. Divide the combined mixture between the tins and put in the pre-heated oven. 

Step 6

Cook for 25–30 minutes or until risen and golden. Check that it's ready by inserting a skewer into the middle to see if it comes out clean. Remove from the tins and leave to cool.

Step 7

For the frosting

Place the icing sugar and butter in a bowl and mix on medium speed until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Step 8

Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until incorporated. Continue to beat until the frosting is light and fluffy (at least 5 minutes). You can chill this to make it thicken up when it’s whisked.

Step 9

Sandwich the cakes together with a little of the frosting then spread the rest over the top and use a fork to leave a rough surface.

Step 10

For the topping

Place the walnuts, pumpkin seeds, caraway seeds, and sunflower seeds in a frying pan and toast them briefly. Leave to cool before sprinkling over the top of the cake.

Step 11

Dissolve the sugar in a little water. Bring to the boil and add the carrots. Stir well and boil for 30–40 seconds. Remove from the heat and leave to cool before scattering over the top of the cake.

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