Carrot cake has been a beloved tea time treat for many years - with the first recipe appearing in the Middle Ages, it became popular again during WW2 when carrots were used to replace sugar, which was extremely expensive at the time.
This is a great way to include some vegetables into a delicious sweet treat for your children, and this recipe uses only a small amount of oil in place of butter, as well as using honey and banana rather than refined sugar. This carrot traybake is quicker and easier than making individual cupcakes or muffins, and it is much easier to decorate, slice and store than a traditional cake.
Tray Bake Carrot Cake Recipe
Unlike other carrot cake traybake recipes, this one is suitable for vegetarians, it is naturally dairy-free (apart from the cream cheese frosting) and totally nut-free. Refined sugar has been replaced with honey and banana, and you could easily swap the flour for a gluten-free version. Total time for prep and cooking is 1 hour (30 mins prep, 30 mins in the oven).
2 large eggs, beaten
85g clear honey
50ml vegetable oil (or any other tasteless oil)
1 banana, mashed
100g plain flour
50g wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 large carrots, grated
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
For the cream cheese frosting:
200g soft cheese or quark
2 tbsp icing sugar (or clear honey, to taste)
1 lemon rind, grated
Preheat the oven to 180c (fan) and line a baking tin with baking paper (roughly 30 x 20 cm)
Beat together the eggs, honey, oil and banana in a large bowl
In another bowl, combine the plain and wholemeal flours along with the cinnamon and baking powder, then fold the dry ingredients into the wet mix
Next, stir in the carrots, sultanas, lemon juice, salt and vanilla extract and mix well
Transfer into the baking tin, smoothing the mixture down so that the top is flat
Bake for around 25 - 30 minutes. Insert a skewer into the middle of the cake to make sure that it comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for 5 - 10 minutes, then transfer onto a wire rack to completely cool
The traybake must be totally cool before applying the icing, which is made by beating the three ingredients together, making a smooth, sweet topping.
Smooth the icing over the carrot traybake, then place in the fridge for 1-2 hours
To serve, simply cut into pieces and enjoy.
The carrot cake tray bake will last around 4-5 days, kept in an airtight container in the fridge. Any leftovers can be stored in the freezer - simply cut into individually wrapped slices, then freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost, simply let the cake thaw out overnight in the fridge.
Substitutes and Alternatives
You can use self-raising flour 1:1 for the plain flour in this recipe - just remember not to add the baking powder.
For a healthy, dairy-free version of the frosting, whisk the solidified layer from a tin of full-fat coconut milk (that has been chilled overnight) until it is light and fluffy. Then whisk in 60g coconut yoghurt, 56g melted coconut oil, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons maple syrup, before chilling for 4 hours in the fridge. The frosting is ready to be spread onto the cake - which should be kept in the fridge in order to stop the frosting from melting.
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