Carrot and pecan cake

I always choose carrot cake in bakeries. Funnily, my granny, who was the most amazing baker, could never make carrot cake and it used to drive her mad. The addition of pineapple and sultanas here makes the cake really moist and pecans add crunch. I’m not a huge fan of supersweet frosting or buttercream, but this cream-cheese frosting with orange zest is a good balance. Just don’t overmix.

10 people


  • 300g soft unsalted butter
  • 350g soft light-brown sugar
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 225g peeled carrots, half coarsely grated, half finely grated
  • 100g desiccated coconut
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 100g tinned pineapple in juice, drained, chopped and crushed
  • 200g chopped pecans (half for topping)
  • 100g sultanas


  • 50g soft unsalted butter
  • 300g sieved icing sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 100g full-fat cream cheese

01 Grease and line a loose-bottomed deep-sided 23cm cake tin with parchment paper. Heat the oven to 140C (160C non-fan).

02 In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until combined. If it starts to curdle, add a little flour.

03 Fold in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, and mix until combined. Mix in the grated carrots, coconut, orange zest and pineapple with a little juice. Fold in half the pecans and the sultanas.

04 Pour the batter into the greased and lined tin and level the top with a spatula. Place in the oven for 60-90 minutes — if the top starts to brown too much, cover with foil. It’s cooked when you can insert a skewer in the middle and it comes out clean. Cool in the tin.

05 For the topping, place the soft butter in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add the icing sugar a little at a time, followed by the zest. Finally, mix in the cream cheese a little at a time until the mix is smooth, light and not too runny — you may not need all of it. Be careful not to overmix.

06 Spread the cream-cheese frosting over the whole cake — top and sides — with a palette knife. Put the remaining pecans in a frying pan and toast lightly until golden brown. Once cooled, chop into small pieces and, using your hands, press the nuts around the sides of the cake only.