Feb 08

Melissa’s Life-Changing Carrot and Olive Oil Cake

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Makes 1 x 23cm round cake

Equipment 23cm round, deep, loose-bottom cake tin

Sorry for the melodramatic title of this cake but to be honest it was life-changing for me, so please just go with it. It’s the complex play of the spices that really brings this cake to life. Cloves, cardamom and cinnamon combine to heighten the flavours and aromas to an almost intoxicating level. With 500g of grated carrot in this cake there’s no getting away from its presence, though it’s surprising how the cake doesn’t really taste of it. Its purpose is to bind in the flour – in this case spelt, that is higher in protein and fibre than wheat. The fruity olive oil unifies all the other flavours. This recipe is so forgiving. Even overcooked, it’s still moist and delicious!

215 ml extra virgin olive oil

250g coconut sugar

4 eggs, beaten

250g spelt flour

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp salt

125g pecans, coarsely chopped

500g carrots, grated

Vanilla cashew nut icing or Maple cream

cheese icing (see below)

Roughly chopped walnuts, for topping

1 Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/

Gas mark 5 and line a 23cm round, deep loose bottom

cake tin with baking parchment.

2 In a bowl mix together the olive oil, sugar and

eggs until well combined.

3 In a second bowl combine the flour and the

other dry ingredients and make a well in

the centre. Add the egg and oil mixture and

stir thoroughly until it is all blended. Finally,

add the pecans and carrots and mix again.

4 Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake

for about 1 hour 20 minutes, until a skewer

inserted into the middle comes out clean.

5 Allow the cake to cool in the tin for

10–15 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling

rack. Once it’s completely cool, top it with

either Vanilla cashew nut icing or Maple

cream cheese icing.

Nutrition Note:

The olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats that are better for your heart than the saturated fats in butter.

Vanilla Cashew Nut Icing

Equipment High speed blender

GF, DF, V+

We have to get really creative when it comes to ‘icing’ our cakes as we don’t use icing sugar. This recipe is one of our go-to icing recipes, it’s really easy to make and absolutely delicious. The basic recipe is for a vanilla icing, but it can easily be adapted to different flavours – we particularly like to add matcha for a vibrant green colour!

150g unsalted cashew nuts, soaked for

At least 4 hours but preferably overnight

300g full-fat coconut milk

2 tbsp lemon juice

75g maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g coconut oil, melted

Drain and rinse the soaked cashew nuts.

Put them in a blender with all the other

ingredients and blend until completely smooth

and creamy. Pour into a container and chill in

the fridge until firm. We usually leave the icing

in the fridge overnight, but around 4 hours

should do the trick.

Maple Cream Cheese Icing


This is our take on classic cream cheese icing. It’s a lot less sweet and totally delicious.

2 tbsp maple syrup

225g organic full-fat cream cheese,

straight from the fridge

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 Stir the maple syrup into the chilled cream

cheese until completely combined.

2 Add the melted coconut oil and mix very

quickly to prevent lumps from forming.

Modern Baker: A New Way To Bake by Melissa Sharp with Lindsay Stark (Ebury Press, RRP £26). Photography by Laura Edwards.