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Carrot and walnut cake

Fragrant with spices and deliciously moist, this cake is about as far away from the dry and dreary 1970s health-food shop incarnations as you can get. The unusual addition of apple sauce keeps it really juicy. You can either make your own apple sauce by cooking one large Bramley apple in a couple of tablespoons of water until fluffy, or use good-quality ready-made.


Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 3. Put the sultanas into a small bowl, pour on hot water to cover and leave to soak for 20 minutes.

Lightly grease a loose-bottomed 20–22cm square cake tin, about 8cm deep, line the base with greaseproof paper and butter the paper. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and ground cloves.

In a large bowl, whisk together the 220g muscovado sugar, oil and orange zest until well combined, then whisk in the eggs until the mixture is creamy. Fold in the apple sauce, followed by the flour mixture until just combined. Next fold in the grated carrots and walnuts. Finally, drain the sultanas and fold these in.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours, until a fine skewer inserted into the centre comes out without crumbs clinging to it. If the cake appears to be overbrowning before it is done, cover the top loosely with foil.

While the cake is in the oven, make the syrup. Put the orange juice into a small saucepan with the 3 tbsp light muscovado sugar and 1 tbsp lemon juice. Warm over a low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat and simmer until slightly syrupy, about 4–5 minutes.

As you remove the cake from the oven, run a knife around the edge and pierce the top a few times with a fine skewer. Now pour over the syrup, trying to make sure that you cover the surface fairly evenly. Stand the cake tin on a wire rack and leave to cool for a while before cutting into squares. You can serve this cake warm as a pudding with a dollop of crème fraîche, or cold as a treat at any time.

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  • 80g sultanas
  • Knob of butter, for greasing
  • 220g wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Good pinch of ground cloves
  • 220g light muscovado sugar, plus an extra 3 tbsp for the syrup
  • 120ml sunflower oil
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 225g apple sauce (see above)
  • 270g carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 80g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Veg Patch Handbook