Monday, 10 June 2013

carrot, flax and spelt layer cake - a tea time treat

... we have a very quaint little health-food shop in our local town of Louth called the Louth Wholefood Co-Operative, tucked away on a side street in the shadow of the stunning church of St James and whilst you may have to hunt high and low to find it, once inside it's like a treasure trove of goodness... packed to the rafters with fabulous produce from herbal teas to organic soap and quite literally everything in between.  It's one of the those shops that you find yourself saying things like 'wow, I can't believe they stock this here...' in some kind of snobbish southern way, as though they'd never heard of gluten-free in the shires... so impressed am I by this adorable shop that I spend far too much money in there and now that I have an actual dietary reason to frequent the store and I don't have to find an excuse to go in to purchase halva, I may enquire about purchasing shares...

... the lovely lady who run's the shop was very good at persuading me to purchase a bumper selection of goodies including some flax powder, which is incredible at aiding digestion, as well as convincing me to try baking with spelt flour instead of regular flour... i'm now totally in love with spelt which has a wonderful earthy quality and quite an intense heady aroma... i'm very much enjoying this little voyage of discovery...

carrot, flax and spelt layer cake with a honey and cream-cheese frosting
I wanted to bake a 'healthy' cake for this months tea time treats bloggers challenge, the theme of which is layer cakes... now I'm well aware that there's really no such thing as a healthy cake but I think i've taken the essence of this traditional carrot cake recipe and deconstructed it so that each ingredient is a healthier option than the regular cake ingredient... the resulting cake is lovely, if not a little chewy... more like a giant health bar than a sponge cake but i'm really not complaining, it was fun to bake... tea time treats is hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked

for the cake
2 large free-range eggs
5fl oz sunflower oil
4oz soft dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
200g spelt wholemeal flour
3 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon bicarb of soda
1 teaspoon flax powder
200g coarsely grated carrot
grated zest of one orange
50g chopped dried apricots
50g chopped dried prunes
50g desiccated coconut
2oz pistachio nuts - roughly chopped

for the cream-cheese frosting
200g cream cheese
200g mascarpone
juice and zest of one orange
2 tablespoons honey

you will need 2 x 20cm cake tins - greased and lined.

in a large bowl beat the eggs, oil, sugar and honey for 3 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved.

add the flour and stir in, then stir in the remaining ingredients (half the pistachios) until well combined.

divide the batter between the two cake tins and bake on 180C for 25 mins or until golden and risen, set aside on a wire rack to cool for 10 mins before turning out of the tins and letting cool entirely.

to make the frosting simply beat all the ingredients together in a bowl until thick, add more honey if you like it sweeter, then spread half of it onto the bottom layer, place the top layer on top and spread with the remaining frosting... drizzle with a little more honey and a grating of orange zest then crumble the rest of the pistachio's on top.

eat and of course, enjoy!


  1. BEAUTIFUL entry into Tea Time Treats Dom and also STUNNING photos too! I LOVE little shops like that, we have a couple in nearby Malton, and I also LOVE spelt flour too.....has that lovely nutty taste as you say! A FAB layer cake thanks, Karen

  2. It looks lovely. I am a big fan of spelt flour, and anything with the carrot & cream cheese combo is going to be a winner in my book.

  3. Sounds gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous! I love that little pistachio nut peeking up in the first photo too, when all the rest are dutifully laying down to be consumed. :)

  4. Looks lovely - I've just tried spelt for the first time and I love the flavour it brings. This version of carrot cake looks like it would be perfect for tea time! :)

  5. That cake looks too good to be healthy! The pistachios are a great way to finish the cake. I haven't tried spelt flour yet, must give it a go soon.

  6. Dom, this looks amazing! Carrot cake is one of my favorite cakes! I give this 2 thumbs up!

  7. This looks like a good cake to have for morning tea especially if you have rushed off out without breakfast. The sturdy texture can be lovely for a change. Have not cooked with splet flour but have seen lots of bread shops using it now as a healthy option. Love the touch of green with the pistachios too.....go on cut me a slice.

  8. This is a beautiful cake Dom. I can completely relate to the 'giant health bar' comparison. I've done a lot of recent dabbling into healthy cakes, and even though they're beautiful in their own right, they just... don't seem to have the same indulgent quality as regular white flour and refined sugar cakes :) I do love spelt flour and flax though. I've actually started to keep a little bag of flax seeds in my drawer at work to sprinkle onto yoghurt, oats with almond milk, and even onto salads. You're doing an amazing job with your new diet. INCREDIBLE. So many wonderful recipes. I think I would've hid myself in a little hole and cried for a while, but you've just 'got back onto the horse' so to speak. Strong man.

  9. I love baking with spelt (very Scandinavian of you) and I LOVE the thought of mixing mascarpone and cream cheese together...mmmmmmmmmm

  10. I love when you leave the frosting off the sides of the cake. It doesn't look chewy in the photo though, but just like a regular delicious carrot cake. The grocery store that I frequent have just recently introduced a line of all different organic flours. I will be on the look out for spelt flour.

  11. Oh yes - I'd definitely have a big slice of that. Healthy, you say? Even better! It looks really substantial and hearty, which I love...

  12. Now hang on a minute - baking "healthy" cakes is my role ;-) Love it that you've finally discovered the wonders of spelt flour and I love the look of this cake. Cream cheese and mascarpone sound like a fine combination. Also love health food shops like that. We used to have an excellent shop in Liskeard, but sadly we now have to go to Truro or Totnes for such a one and make sure we stock up well.

  13. It's so nice to find shops like that these days, isn't it? They tend to be few and far between out here too.
    The cake looks absolutely stunning!! Hope you saved me a piece :)

  14. I love carrot cake and this looks delicious. Might give it a go this weekend. Thanks for sharing

  15. What a lovely sounding shop Dom- and perfect to have right on your doorstep for creating such delicious bakes! Thank you for entering this into TTT!

  16. Snap! Carrot cake twins! I am totally loving your healthier version - the cream cheese frosting sounds divine! I love baking with spelt flour and have gone through quite a few bags now.

  17. It looks gorgeous and much healthier! I don't mind completing that plate all by myself...


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