Food & Entertaining - Garden to Table

Carrot, date and nut cake

Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh

Add some tasty extras to your traditional carrot cake

Carrot, date and nut cake

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) cake

Not your conventional carrot cake, this version is a little more substantial. While it’s rich with honey, it has less fat than most carrot cakes but still features everyone’s favourite cream cheese icing.

1  cup (250 mL) liquid buckwheat honey
Juice and finely grated zest of 1 medium-sized orange
1⁄2  cup (125 mL) dark rum
1⁄2  cup (125 mL) water
11⁄2 cups (375 mL) finely grated carrots
1⁄2  cup (125 mL) butter
2⁄3  cup (150 mL) raisins
2⁄3  cup (150 mL) dates, pitted and chopped
1  tsp. (5 mL) ground cinnamon
1⁄2  tsp. (2 mL) ground nutmeg
1⁄2  tsp. (2 mL) ground cloves
12⁄3 cups (400 mL) all-purpose whole wheat flour
1⁄2  tsp. (2 mL) salt
2  tsp. (10 mL) baking soda
1  cup (250 mL) walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

1  pkg. (8 oz./250 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1⁄3  cup (75 mL) light sour cream
2  tbsp. (30 mL) butter, softened
1  tsp. (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
1  cup (250 mL) icing sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly butter and flour a 10-inch (25-cm) round or square cake pan. Combine honey, orange juice and zest, rum and water in a medium-sized saucepan placed over medium-high heat. Stir to blend ingredients. Add carrots, butter, raisins, dates, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Stir to combine well, then bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and gently boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour with salt and baking soda; then stir nuts into dry mixture.

When honey mixture has cooled, make a well in dry ingredients and pour honey mixture into the centre. Use a wooden spoon to incorporate fully all of the ingredients until a batter forms.

Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth the surface and tap the pan once or twice on the counter to settle batter. Bake for about 50 to 55 minutes or until cake is browned, springs back when touched and a tester, inserted into the centre, emerges clean.

Remove from oven and let cool in pan for about 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

While the cake is cooling, prepare icing: cream together cream cheese, sour cream and butter until well blended. Stir in vanilla extract. Next, gradually add icing sugar, beating well after each addition.

When cake has completely cooled, spread icing over the top surface of cake (include the sides if you have enough). Refrigerate cake until you’re ready to serve.


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