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Sugar and spice

24 October 2014

iStock

I HAVE been searching for many years for a Carrot cake recipe that contains a carrot or two, and does not use a ton of sugar. I have recently discovered two that have a good autumnal spicy flavour.

The first one is equally good made with grated apples. It also uses the classic carrot/cardamom combination, which persuaded a chance visitor that I'd put our house on the market, so seductive was the scent of the cooling cake in the kitchen.

It makes 16 squares if you make it in a 22cm-square, deep cake-tin; so it is ideal for a party. Walnuts are another classic addition, but I no longer dare to use nuts if I'm cooking for people I don't know. If you know that no one is allergic, throw in a handful of chopped walnuts, or use a few to decorate.

275g (10 oz) self-raising  wholemeal flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon  and cardamom

200g (7 oz) fruit sugar

4 eggs

250ml (½ pt) vegetable oil

1 tablespoon real vanilla essence

400g (14 oz) finely grated carrot  (or apple: cooking or dessert)

Light the oven to 180°C/350°F/ Gas 4, and prepare the tins: either two large sandwich tins, or one deep square tin. Whisk together the eggs and fruit sugar till the mixture is pale and light. Gradually whisk in the oil and vanilla. Fold in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and spices, and, lastly, add the grated carrot. Bake the cake for about 30 minutes, or 45 minutes if you use one deep tin.

Carrot cake traditionally is covered in cream-cheese icing. Make your own according to taste with cream cheese, agave syrup or fruit sugar, and cinnamon, whisked together until light.

The second recipe is vegan, and fat-free, and makes a more solid cake that also works well as a pudding, served warm with custard. It uses dried fruit and traditional Bonfire Night spices.

240g (8 oz) whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

300ml (10 fl. oz) water

250g (9 oz) dates, chopped

200g (7 oz) raisins

1 teaspoon each cinnamon and  ground ginger

½ teaspoon each ground cloves and ground nutmeg

200g (7 oz) carrot, finely grated

90ml (3 fl. oz) apple-juice concentrate, or 60g (2 oz) pear-and-apple spread and 2 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5) and prepare a deep cake tin. Mix the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl. Combine the water, dates, raisins, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Add the carrot and apple-juice concentrate. Stir in the flour mixture quickly, and pour the cake into a well-greased (or silicon) tin. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake is done.

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