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National carrot cake day: our best ever recipes

We celebrate National Carrot Cake Day (February 3) with a history of our favourite veg-based cake and 3 great recipes to try

Carrots have always been a common British ingredient in sweet recipes (carrot cakes and puddings were popular both in the Middle Ages and during the Second World War when sugar was scarce and expensive and carrots could add both sweetness and bulk).

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But the carrot cake we know and love today is a North American invention. It became popular here in the 60s and 70s when it sat proudly on the counters of health-food cafes along with nut loaf and homity pie. In this first incarnation the flour most often used was wholemeal which along with a hefty dose of dried fruit and nuts gave it a heaviness and a reputation as a slightly worthy cake.

These days it’s really only the carrots that are holding up the healthy end of the bargain, because a lighter sponge and that classic cream cheese frosting takes it into super-indulgent territory. We say carrot cake rules, however it comes! (And so do you – it’s one of the most popular recipes on our website!)

Fancy baking one? Try one of our 3 brilliant recipes below:


Muscovado carrot cake

Dark muscovado sugar gives a richer flavour, golden sultanas keep it juicy and pecans add texture.

Carrot cake muffins

Take a cake shop favourite and transform it into a bake smart enough for an afternoon tea spread.


Carrot cake with maple frosting

How do you improve on a classic carrot cake? Roast the carrots for an even denser, richer cake, then slather in maple buttercream.


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Black forest brownies

Coffee and walnut cupcakes

Amalfi lemon drizzle cake

Rich chocolate cake

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Banana loaf with passion fruit frosting


listen to our cookery writer Adam discus the trend for veg in desserts (beetroot yogurt anyone?)

olive magazine podcast ep37 – kalettes, veg in desserts and freezing like a foodie