Fancy a cake that contains no butter? Then this is the one for you. Even the meringue frosting is fat-free. This delicious cake is full of flavour and easy to make with a carrot packed sponge and plenty of layers. The crisp, gooey meringue on top adds a whole new dimension and the soft sponge beneath works really well together. This cake dates back to medieval times, when sugar was scarce and carrots (which contain lots of natural sweetness) were used instead.
- 200ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
- 3 eggs
- 300g soft light brown sugar
- 600g carrots, scrubbed and grated
- 280g self-raising flour
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 1tsp mixed spice (pumpkin pie spice)
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 150g dried fruits, such as cherries, sultanas (golden raisins), raisins (optional)
- 150g nuts, such as pecans or walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
- Orange-blossom honey, to serve
- To make the meringue frosting:
- 6 egg whites
- 300g caster (superfine) sugar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Grease 2 x 20cm/8in diameter cake tins and line with baking parchment.
Put the oil, eggs and sugar into a bowl and beat together. Add the carrots and beat until incorporated.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large bowl. Add the orange zest, dried fruits and nuts and stir to coat them in the flour; this will prevent them from sinking in
Add the flour mixture to the carrot mixture in 3 batches, stirring gently after each addition. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
To make the frosting, place a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Add the egg whites and sugar and beat with an electric hand whisk until stiff peaks form; this should take about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla and give it a final few seconds beating. Your frosting will be thick and shiny and must be used right away.
Place the first cake on a cake board or plate and spread over the meringue frosting – not too much, or it will be pushed out of the sides. Stack the next cake layer on top. Now cover the outside of the cake; I use a palette knife and swipe the frosting up and around the sides, and I think this cake looks better when the frosting isn’t smooth. If you’re feeling really adventurous, blast the top gently with a blowtorch for a toasted marshmallow effect. Drizzle with a little honey to serve.
The cake keeps in an airtight container for up to 2 days.