© 2009 Green Kitchen Stories Sugar free carrot cake

A “Healthier” Carrot Cake


We both love carrot cake. Who doesn’t. It’s a sweet tasting cake with creamy frosting and – best of all – it contains carrots! So in some strange way this cake must also be healthy!?

Well, it also usually contains large amounts of sugar, butter and flour, so healthy might not be the perfect word to describe it. Unless you replace these ingredients for more natural alternatives. We decided to try it.

So, we took a couple of our favorite carrot cake recipes, mixed them up a bit, removed the sugar, butter and white flour, replaced them with some ingredients that we found appropriate, whipped it together and put it in the oven. And our first try was a disaster! We used apple juice as sweetener and almost not any flour at all, which gave us a compact stonecake with absolutely no taste.

For our second try we sweetened it with bananas and dates (and some honey in the frosting), we used whole-wheat flour and a mild oil instead of butter. And this time it really turned out well. We also used a lot of dried fruit and quite large carrot grates, which made it really chewy and chunky.
Scroll down for the recipe.

Carrot cake 2
A “Healthier” Carrot Cake
Serves 6-8

3 eggs
1-2 bananas
10-15 fresh dates (without seeds)
6 tbsp sunflower oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cardamom
3-4 carrots (medium size, grated)
½ cup coconut flakes
½ cup walnuts (roughly chopped)
1/2 cup raisins

Glazing
200 g cream cheese
3 tbsp honey
1/2 lime (juice)

1/2 cup hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk the eggs in a medium sized bowl. Use a hand blender or a blender to mix bananas, dates and oil into a thick cream in another bowl. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom and stir it together with the eggs and the banana-cream. Add grated carrots, coconut flakes, walnuts and raisins and stir it until it all comes together.
Pour it into a cake pan and bake for about 40 minutes. Try to stick a toothpick in the centre of the cake, when nothing sticks on it the cake is ready. Let it cool.
Whip together the cream cheese and the honey (bananas or dates would probably also work as sweeteners for the frosting). Add the frosting when the cake is completely cooled of. Serve with roughly chopped hazelnuts or walnuts on the top.

Photos by: Johanna Frenkel

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60 Comments

  1. Posted 9 Dec ’09 at 00:33 | #

    Fabulous! Perhaps now I can eat more carrot cake. Thank you for experimenting and finding a nice healthy version for us.

    • Posted 26 Feb ’14 at 07:51 | #

      I am always trying to havs a healthier diet. But my work as food photographer it makes everything a bit mote complicated. With tones of delicious unhethy food commisioned from th magazines I shoot for. But I would love to try this cake. Yout blog is really cute.

  2. Posted 9 Dec ’09 at 20:05 | #

    I have just this minute found your blog and I LOVE it! Beautiful photos and great recipes. I am going to bookmark it now.
    Merry Christmas from New Zealand!
    Emma

  3. Posted 14 Jun ’10 at 07:23 | #

    I tried this recipe last week and loved it – thank you!

    I divided the batter into a dozen muffins and they turned out great. I love a treat-like recipe that uses wholemeal flour and fruit for sweetening. :-)

  4. Ginger
    Posted 25 Jan ’11 at 22:32 | #

    I just discovered your blog a few days ago and really enjoy it! We made the blackberry chocolate cake last night and loved it! I’m going to try this recipe tonight and while I was looking it over realized it looks very similar to one that Lamasin Day-Lewis included in her book “Supper for a Song.” There are a lot of great recipes in her book as well.
    Thanks again for your recipes!

    • Christy
      Posted 24 Aug ’12 at 13:11 | #

      Ginger I’m surprised at your comment about it being a similar recipe to that of Tamasin’s. Her recipe is full of butter and sugar!

  5. Ginger
    Posted 25 Jan ’11 at 22:33 | #

    Oops, typo, her name is Tamasin.

  6. kla.
    Posted 26 Mar ’11 at 20:53 | #

    you can easily make it vegan by not adding eggs (plus I put a whipped soy cream on top). I tested it and have to say that this is a really delicious cake!! thanks for a great receipt!!

    • Anne
      Posted 27 Apr ’11 at 03:00 | #

      Hello there,

      I’m vegan and curious as to whether you took out the eggs all together or used any kind of egg substitute?

  7. Anne
    Posted 27 Apr ’11 at 02:56 | #

    This looks great!
    I love any kind of carroty dessert! I’m a big time “healthy” substituter, and this recipe is looks dang reasonable to me. I don’t have any dates on hand unfortunately, and I’m on a personal mission to “clean out” my cupboards and shelves before I buy more baking goods etc. So I was thinking of replacing the dates with dried figs… what do you think? I don’t think it would change the consistency very much, or at least this is what I choose to think (:
    I’ll let you know how it goes!

    Thanks for the awesome looking recipe!
    Anne.

  8. Posted 13 May ’11 at 05:53 | #

    I have just put this together, ready to go into the oven. This is the most fun and thoughtful recipe I’ve tried so far in my short baking career – I fell in love with it whilst making the banana and date cream. I have added a lot of love into the mix and I’m looking forward to sharing it with my family this evening. M.x

  9. Posted 13 May ’11 at 06:02 | #

    p.s also wanted to say that you have clearly put a lot of love and effort into creating this recipe – you can feel the good energy while putting it together. Thanks for sharing your passion of making lovely and healthy food.

  10. Kat
    Posted 8 Nov ’11 at 22:17 | #

    It’s my first time making something from your blog and it turned out great! I was amazed at how sweet it tasted without any sugar. I made a couple of minor alterations though – i used spelt flour instead of wholemeal, i added half a grated apple and used sultanas instead of raisons.

    Next im going to make the Pistachio Falafel!

    • Renea
      Posted 16 May ’12 at 01:37 | #

      Kat, you and I are the same page with the spelt substitute. I want to do the very same thing. Question, did you use the same measurement -1 cup- as the spelt?

  11. Philippine
    Posted 26 Nov ’11 at 20:46 | #

    What à divine carrot cake this is! Vw. Because I forgot to add the coconut in the cake mix I decided to add THE coconut flakes in the glazing for which I used mascarpone. And some extra flakes on top iso nuts. Also à nice alternative! Thank you for sharing your food passion!!! Beautiful app as well :-)

  12. Posted 29 Jan ’12 at 23:02 | #

    My boyfriend wants a carrot cake for his birthday. Maybe this is the way to go!

  13. Nal
    Posted 25 Feb ’12 at 09:26 | #

    Hi! Keep up the awesome effort on this “Blog with a difference”!

    Btw, I was wondering about making this cake without eggs, as a LOT of people here in India consider Egg as Non-Vegetarian… Any suggestions on egg-substitutes?

    Thanks a bunch!
    Nalini

  14. Laura
    Posted 4 Mar ’12 at 18:16 | #

    This was my first cake ever and my boyfriend devoured it! I used spelt flour, mascarpone and a little ginger since I had those ingredients at home. Delightful. Thank you so much!

  15. Jeanette
    Posted 21 Aug ’12 at 21:49 | #

    For everyone looking for an egg substitute…the version most common on most vegan blogs is to use a ‘flax egg.’ As near as I can tell, this is just soaked flaxseed formed into an egg-shaped ball. I have never tried this method myself, however.

    For myself, when I substitute eggs I use about 1/4 tsp each baking soda and powder (sometimes rounded if I want the recipe extra fluffy) and 1/2 cup of any liquid (milk, juice, apple sauce…whatever works with your recipe). An egg provides moisture and a rising agent so you have to make sure to replace both elements.

    Happy cooking!

  16. Amanda
    Posted 12 Sep ’12 at 02:02 | #

    If I was to use dried dates (because that what I have in my kitchen) would I need to put some….maybe juice or applesauce because of that. Im not really familiar with fresh dates.

    • Posted 12 Sep ’12 at 10:09 | #

      Hi Amanda, you have to soak the date first if you are using dried dates.
      Happy baking
      Luise

  17. Irina
    Posted 28 Sep ’12 at 14:20 | #

    this looks so healthy that I am tempted to divide the mixture into muffin cups and eat the carrot cake muffins for breakfast (maybe I would make the cream cheese frosting into a filling… hm…).
    I found your blog yesterday and it is absolutely beautiful! I really appreciate that you find ways of making healthier versions of desserts. They really don’t have to be so sugary to be delicious. I’m feeling very encouraged to try experimenting with all the alternatives you suggest for white flour, like your spelt-flour pancake-cake. It looks incredible too!

  18. Na
    Posted 12 Oct ’12 at 04:45 | #

    Hi! I love your blog – I was wondering what how I can replace the dates since they are hard to get around here … :)

  19. Irma
    Posted 14 Oct ’12 at 23:51 | #

    I just made this carrot cake. I was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Thank you for all of your tasty recipes. :)

  20. Tess
    Posted 3 Dec ’12 at 20:40 | #

    This is a fantastic recipe. It was rapidly eaten by my family who didn’t even notice it was a healthy version of their favourite treat. Highly highly recommend! Now I wouldn’t even consider another carrot cake recipe. This is my first recipe from this great site and it has given me inspiration to try more. Thank you for providing such delicious healthy recipes!

  21. Posted 5 Mar ’13 at 06:01 | #

    Pardon, but I had a question while viewing this recipe on the app: what size cake pan do you recommend?

  22. k.e.s.
    Posted 15 Mar ’13 at 17:58 | #

    Hello! I was wondering about possibly substituting applesauce for the fresh dates. Do you think this is a possibility? If so, how much do you think would be good to use? Any other suggestions? I have a feeling my grocery doesn’t carry fresh dates unfortunately. Thanks; I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  23. Chinky
    Posted 26 Mar ’13 at 15:56 | #

    Hi! Do the coconut flakes in the recipe refer to fresh coconut meat or dry desicated coconut flakes, the ones that you use in making macaroons? And what can I use as a cardamom substitute? Thanks!

  24. Bel
    Posted 13 May ’13 at 15:16 | #

    Tried the recipe yesterday for the first time and it was amazing! I didn’t have fresh dates so used dried ones, and the result was still really good. Next time will soak them as Luise recommended. Btw, I love the green kitchen app for iPad…it is not only beautiful, but also makes following the recipe much easier. Well done!

  25. Penny f
    Posted 27 May ’13 at 03:08 | #

    Hi! Thanks for sharing. I want to bake this cake ’cause I think is amazing, but how can I replace the dates? It’s very difficult to find those in lima-Peru… We are very lucky and have a lot of products but dates are hard to find! Thank you!!! :)

    • Posted 27 May ’13 at 08:23 | #

      Hi Penny, maybe you can use dried fruit instead, like prunes? Or applesauce?
      Happy baking
      /Luise

  26. Neelvdh
    Posted 31 May ’13 at 20:21 | #

    Have been looking for the best carrot cake recipe for a while already, and will try this one soon. I was just wondering if the bananas could be replaced with avocado or some other ingredient? I cant stand the taste. Or are they just in there for structure etc.? Great website and app! Thx

  27. Lorraine Hennessy
    Posted 1 Jun ’13 at 01:29 | #

    Thanks a lot for this recipe!! I already fell in love with it while mixing all the ingridients! You’re page is awesome and can’t wait to order your book! Lotsa love from Frankfurt, Germany! xxLorraine

  28. virginia
    Posted 22 Jun ’13 at 00:43 | #

    I will be giving this a try today……. Looks wonderful. Just for your information though, look up Sarah Wilson – I Quit Sugar..a fantastic read and eye opener as far as where the “baddies” lie in all that we consume…… You will be very interested to see that you still have quite a lot of sugar in this recipe – bananas, dates and honey – all just sugar in a different form – I’m going to try and use Stevia and will let you know the outcome! Keep up the healthy conversions though – every little tweak helps! :)

  29. Georgia
    Posted 2 Jul ’13 at 04:14 | #

    I was wondering if I could leave the dates out of the recipe?
    Also wondering, are you able to use Almond Meal for the flour?

    Thank you!!

  30. sandra
    Posted 7 Jul ’13 at 21:31 | #

    I love your blog, it’s very inspiring! I’ll try to make this beautiful cake tomorrow. I have gluten intolerance so maybe I can replace the flour with coconut four or almond flour, what do you think? Thanks /Sandra

  31. Kristina
    Posted 19 Jul ’13 at 22:22 | #

    I really like this cake! Good flavour, nice texture, and a glazing to die for. Well done – definitely a remake :)

    I had no sunflower oil, so I used half olive oil and half rape seed oil, and that worked fine. I also replaced 2 eggs with flax seeds and water. Creative cooking when the kitchen cupboards are empty :)

    /Kristina.

  32. Lynsey
    Posted 16 Aug ’13 at 15:29 | #

    Thanks for this recipe, it’s so nice to make a cake without sugar and butter!! My 3 year old also loved it :-) I used coconut oil instead of sunflower, so delicious!!
    Looking forward to trying some other recipe of yours

    Lynsey

  33. Posted 19 Sep ’13 at 12:00 | #

    Luise and David, I have recently found your blog and in the past enjoyed your recipes featured in The Guardian magazine – I am absolutely in love with your recipes, vision, blog, photography and website! Last night we had the beet burgers, they were amazing :-). I love your recipes, but I am unsure about the ‘cup’ measurement. I tend to work in grams and don’t know how much a cup is! It is something that often puts me off making delicious sounding recipes from the net. Can to you give me a translation please, into grams, so that I can make this scrummy sounding carrot cake for my husband’s birthday?

    Thanks a million, Katie

  34. Prajakta
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 04:57 | #

    hey…loved ur recipe..a cake without sugar, butter and white flour..what else one needss!!!
    gonna bake this cake this weekend..m very new to baking world..so have basic query..the oven i have at my home has max temperature as 250..will that work? how long i should put my cake for baking with this temperature?

  35. Olechka1812
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 17:48 | #

    Hi,
    I recently discovered your blog through a link on the Golubka blog and tried this recipe this very morning – it’s amazing! So delicious and healthy, packed with goodness, and it’s quick and easy to make. Thanks a lot, I’ll definitely be trying more of your recipes. This blog has beautiful pictures by the way.
    Lots of love from France!

  36. Anna
    Posted 10 Oct ’13 at 00:58 | #

    Thank you for such an awesome recipe. I used equal amounts of all purpose and almond flour, reduced the quantity of spices, used only 2 eggs, did not use oil at all, and added more coconut and a teaspoon of honey to the batter. The cake was moist, sweet, and delicious. That walnuts give a nice crunch. Blending bananas and dates for sweetness is a great idea.

  37. Alejandra
    Posted 28 Oct ’13 at 00:19 | #

    Yesterday I made this recipe with a friend and it was delicious! Thanks!

  38. Stacie
    Posted 12 Nov ’13 at 00:33 | #

    Is there any way to make this without eggs?
    Thank you!

  39. Alissa
    Posted 13 Nov ’13 at 15:48 | #

    Will this work if i leave out the nuts, coconut and raisins? Or o i need to change the proportions? I’d like to make it for my son’s second birthday but he doesn’t like chunks of anything in cake/bread, so i’d like to keep it a bit simpler. Thanks!!

  40. susanna
    Posted 28 Nov ’13 at 22:27 | #

    Hi, what if we DO want to use butter instead of sunflower oil? How much would we use?
    Thanks!
    (I am not opposed to butter, just sugar!)

  41. Avrutina
    Posted 10 Feb ’14 at 15:03 | #

    Can i also use Spelt flour instead of Whole Wheat flour and if u would recommend it, what would be the ratio? the same?

    thank u:-)

    • Posted 11 Feb ’14 at 23:57 | #

      Yes you can definitely try that. It should be around the same ratio.
      Good luck!
      /David

  42. Mandy
    Posted 24 Feb ’14 at 10:36 | #

    Was a little concerned that the cake didn’t rise very well, but I guess all fruit cakes are denser than normal. Much better than I expected after seeing it come out the oven, the cake was still nice and moist, and the frosting was delicious! Never thought a sugar free cake could be so tasty! Will be using this recipe from now on for all my carrot cakes :)

  43. Posted 31 Mar ’14 at 14:58 | #

    This is a really great recipe – and proof that something can be healthy and delicious at the same time. I’ve adapted your recipe and put it on my blog here with a link back to you: http://sneakyfruitandveg.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/carrot-banana-and-date-cake/ Hope this is ok

  44. jessica
    Posted 5 Apr ’14 at 01:33 | #

    Hi i am allergic to walnuts, can i leave them out?
    also… how do we store this?

    • Posted 5 Apr ’14 at 01:42 | #

      Yes you can leave them out or replace them with sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Store covered in the fridge for 2-3 days.

  45. Dagny
    Posted 4 May ’14 at 01:55 | #

    Can you substitute raisins for the dates?

  46. Heidi
    Posted 5 May ’14 at 23:07 | #

    I absolutely love this cake! Only it’s a whole since I made it and I have just made another for a competition…. Do I let it cool completely in the tin or take it out?!

    Ahg…emergency!!

    Thanks ever so much for your absolutely beautiful iOS app :) it’s my very very favourite!

    Hx

  47. Erin
    Posted 14 Jun ’14 at 18:31 | #

    Hi there,
    this looks wonderful – I was wondering if you think its possible to do a nice version with sweet potatoes (perhaps replacing dates) if that is what you have? (ie, yup, I have a huge glut of sweet potatoes and carrots at the moment!) … I like fluffy carrot cake that is light – so I’m a bit worried the sweet potato will make it all a bit liquid. what do you think? thanks!! In any case I will do this version at somepoint as it looks great. Thanks for all the continuingly beautiful and interesting recipes.

  48. David
    Posted 5 Jul ’14 at 16:45 | #

    Didn’t quite work for me, somehow. Too much cardamon (half a teaspoon overpowered the cake and left quite an aftertaste in the mouth), and not quite enough natural sweetness. I do very much like the idea though, and will play around with the ingredients. Next time, I’ll likely use very ripe, black bananas to boost the flavour; replace the dates with soaked, dried figs or prunes to up the sweetness levels; and substantially reduce the cardamon to just one or two pods only, or even replace with a small pinch of ground cloves (and increase the cinnamon). I’m wondering if a little malt extract might also lift the flavour. Still better than using refined sugar, though, which I’m desperately trying to cut down on! This has certainly inspired me to experiment more.

  49. Maria
    Posted 4 Aug ’14 at 12:51 | #

    Hi! How many calories is it in a slice and the whole cake?

  50. Posted 23 Aug ’14 at 20:44 | #

    This cake looks so good! I definitely have to try it out as soon as possible. Hmmmm, actually I think tomorrow is a carrot cake kind of day! :)

  51. Mona
    Posted 3 Sep ’14 at 14:56 | #

    I made this cake today, and I am quite pleased with the outcome. It is nice and moist, and the contrast between the spicy sweetness of the cake and the lime in the frosting is lovely.

    I may play around with the recipe to find a way to up the sweetness of the batter a tad – maybe with agave syrup – but then again, this may be down to me needing to get weaned off the taste of refined sugar. Now heading for the kitchen for my third serving!

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