What’s so great about vegetable cakes?

Moms throughout the ages have been desperately looking for ways to increase their children’s vegetable intake, it seems, leaving us with a rich legacy of nothing other than… vegetable cakes. Just puree the veggies, they say, sneak them into the batter and no one will ever know the difference!

I’m not convinced about all that but fortunately there are plenty of delicious vegetable cakes around these days, so no one has to lie about the ingredients to us grown-ups: Martha Stewart’s pumpkin spice cake, David Lebovitz’s zucchini cake, Nigel Slater’s chocolate beetroot cake not to mention tomato cake, sweet potato cake and even broccoli cake (although I’m not about to try that last one).

Here in South Africa the most famous vegetable baked treat is good old carrot cake. If you’re up for making a slightly healthier sweet snack, here is my carrot cake recipe (double the ingredients for a two-layer cake).


1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
3/4 cup sunflower or canola oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups raw grated carrot
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts, but you can also used pecans).


1. Grease a round cake tin (about 24cm in diameter) and preheat your oven to 160°C.
2. Add all the dry ingredients together in one bowl, including the sugar.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine the oil and eggs and whisk briefly. Now add these to the dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
4. Fold in the carrots, raisins and nuts. When these are incorporated, spoon the mixture into the cake tin.
5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake while you make your icing.

Lemon Icing

3 cups icing sugar
50g butter
150 ml lemon juice
a few nuts for decoration

Mix all the ingredients together with an electric mixer. Add a tablespoon or two of water if the icing is too thick. Now you can ice your cake and decorate. This lemony carrot cake is perfect for tea time on a summer afternoon and is easy to make, which is always great. Enjoy, bakers.

Download print-friendly recipe.