SPICED CARROT & ORANGE CAKE with Sweet Labneh Icing

Spiced Carrot & Orange Cake with Sweet Labneh Icing

This is a super moist cake that is packed full of goodness. It is almost a meal in its self as it is balanced with complex carbohydrate (whole grain flour and carrots), protein (eggs) and healthy fats (olive oil and walnuts). Sounds good enough to me to have a slice of carrot cake for lunch! The addition of dates and raisins allows the added sugar to be reduced so the cake is just sweet enough.
Servings 12
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes


  • 2/3 cup dates roughly chopped
  • 150 ml extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar or 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 1 cup white flour gluten free use almond flour or GF flour mix
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Sweet Labneh Icing

  • 1 cup yogurt cheese or 250g cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • chopped pumpkin seeds and orange zest to garnish


  • Preheat oven 170C. Line and grease a 22 cm round cake tin with coconut oil.
  • Place the dates in a jug and cover with boiling water, set aside to soften for 10 minutes.
  • Place the oil, eggs, sugar and vanilla in a food processor and blend until creamy. Drain the dates thoroughly in a sieve and add to the egg mixture blending to break up the dates a little.
  • Combine the flours, baking powder and soda, and spices in a separate bowl and fold through the orange zest, carrot, walnuts and raisins. Make a well and pour in the wet mixture, fold together until just mixed. Pour into the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown on top and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool completely on a cake rack before icing.
  • Make the icing, place the ingredients into a bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon until smooth. Spread on the top of the cooled cake. Garnish with chopped pumpkin seeds and orange zest and serve!


Variation: Make this into little cakes, simply spoon the cake batter into lined muffin trays and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Yogurt Cream Cheese / Labneh

Labneh makes a gorgeous icing that is not too rich while still has a perfect tartness to compliment the sweet cake. If you make homemade yogurt or buy good quality natural yogurt it is easy enough to make labneh at home.

  • Line a sieve or colander with cheesecloth (or a clean tea towel) and set this over a bowl,
  • Spoon in 2 cups natural unsweetened yogurt,
  • Fold over the cheesecloth to cover the yogurt and place a small plate weighted with a large tin (800g) on top. Set aside for the whey to drain into the bowl. You can keep in the fridge at this stage.
  • Leave for 6-8 hours until the yogurt has thickened to a soft cheese. Makes approx. 300g labneh.

Use the labneh to make into icing as below, or for a savoury spread season with salt to taste, add chopped herbs (chives, thyme, rosemary, oregano) and drizzle with olive oil. So so good!

Carrots and oranges are such a perfect spring combination. After a very slow winter the carrot seeds I planted in June are now going for it. Although a little too small to harvest yet, the plants are smack-bang in the middle of our garden renovations. Along with the garlic we have decided to leave them in the ground and build the glasshouse around them. Across the garden there is the orange tree humming with juicy fruit. Even though the oranges looked ready a month or so ago, I know from past experience if we can be a little patient and wait until spring arrives the flavour is SO much better!

How I love cooking with the seasons. 1. it’s more economical, especially when buying spray-free and organic produce. 2. the flavour is far superior when produce is picked at optimal ripeness and arrives on your plate not long after. 3. (my personal  favourite) the amazing variety through the seasons, keeps me on my toes and constantly creative (creating) in the kitchen. I heard several people during winter expressing concern about the price of red peppers. And they will be expensive, heat-loving Solanaceae (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, chillies) don’t grow in the cold of winter. When they are plentiful in the garden and markets in the height of summer we preserve jars of ‘harvest sauce’ to use through winter, otherwise we make do with what is in season.

The recipe I share today is one of the first recipes I shared online, about 10 years ago, on my old website (www.nicolagalloway.com). About 3 years ago my old website morphed into Homegrown Kitchen, but not all of the recipes made the jump. This recipe I am often asked for and have sent via email on numerous occasions. And here I was thinking no one read my recipes 10 years ago! I have jigged it up a tad with a good dollop of vanilla paste to boost the sweetness in this low-sugar cake. I also experimented with using yogurt cream cheese (labneh) instead of the ubiquitous cream cheese icing. My goodness it is good, this cake certainly didn’t last long around here!

Spiced Carrot & Orange Cake | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Spiced Carrot & Orange Cake | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Spiced Carrot & Orange Cake | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Join the Conversation

  1. Julie Cherrie says:

    Hi Nicola, I can’t eat dates or raisins as I follow the Fodmap diet. What would you suggest I could replace these two items with in this recipe? Maybe pineapple or maple syrup? Thanks Julie

    1. Hi Julie, good question. The dates could be replaced with mashed banana (can’t recall if this is OK for Fodmap) or maybe the equivalent in crushed pineapple would work well too, I know other recipes often use it. Let me know how you go. It is meant to be just sweet, more like a tea cake rather than a decadent cake. Enjoy!

  2. Could I use rice malt syrup instead of honey in this recipe? Sounds delicious

    1. Hi Georgina, yes of-course. I prefer to use honey is I can source it locally but if you are avoiding/ limiting fructose then rice malt syrup can be used with similar results. Enjoy!

  3. Do you think 1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour be work? I would love to try it, but as I don’t need to be gluten free, I don’t want to buy special ingredients.

    1. Hi Pam, yes it works fine. I have used wholemeal flour for this recipe in the past and it is lovely as the cake is already quite dense. Happy baking 🙂

  4. Hi Nicola. Could you recommend a dairy free icing to go with this fabulous cake???

    1. Hi Katie, I also use thick coconut yogurt (strained through a cheesecloth if needed), it is tart and delicious! Otherwise the icing from this pink cake without the beetroot juice… https://www.homegrown-kitchen.co.nz/2013/04/10/pink-butterfly-cake/
      Happy baking 🙂

  5. Made the gf version of this tonight from your book (without the icing), absolutely delicious! Thanks!

    1. That is wonderful! It really doesn’t need the icing, I usually save it for special occasions. 🙂

  6. My first GF carrot cake- this was absolutely delicious, Thank you. Im celiac so, Im really enjoying finding a winner of a cake recipe!! 👍🏼😀

    1. That is wonderful to hear Liz. I am so glad you enjoyed it.
      Happy cooking 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Nicola Galloway Homegrown Kitchen © Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.
error: Content is under copyright. Cannot be used without permission.