If you are avoiding refined sugar, try this carrot cake which uses agave syrup and maple syrup as sweeteners. You will need two 20cm/8in cake tins, a piece of muslin or a thin cleaning cloth and a piping bag fitted with a 1cm/½in plain nozzle.
200ml/7fl oz vegetable oil
3 free-range eggs
175ml/6fl oz agave syrup (also known as agave nectar)
400g/14oz carrots, peeled and grated
275g/9¾oz self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
150g/5½oz walnuts pieces
1 orange, finely grated zest only
For the frosting
400g/14oz full-fat cream cheese
50g/1¾oz unsalted butter, softened
50ml/2fl oz maple syrup
25g/1oz walnut pieces, chopped
ground cinnamon, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Oil and line 2 x 20cm/8in sandwich tins.
Pour the oil into a large mixing bowl with the eggs and agave syrup and beat together. Add the carrots and mix together.
In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and mixed spice together. Add the sultanas, walnuts and orange zest and stir to coat in the flour.
Tip the flour mixture into the carrot mixture and stir together gently, until well combined. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 40 minutes. Cover with aluminium foil after 20-30 minutes to prevent the tops from burning.
Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
For the frosting, place the cream cheese in a piece of clean muslin or thin cleaning cloth (such as a J Cloth) and squeeze out any liquid. (This removes the moisture from the cheese so that the frosting isn’t too wet). Place the cream cheese in a bowl and beat until smooth. Add the butter and maple syrup and beat together. Refrigerate until needed.
Sandwich the sponges together with half of the frosting. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the top of the cake and spoon the remaining frosting into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm/½in plain nozzle. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the top of the frosting.
Pipe small kisses of frosting around the edge of the cake and dust with cinnamon.