No-Sugar-Added Carrot Cake Recipe - Delishably - Food and Drink
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No-Sugar-Added Carrot Cake Recipe

Yvonne Spence loves to create healthy recipes and believes we don't have to give up enjoyment when we give up refined sugar.

The completed carrot cake, make without added refined sugar.

The completed carrot cake, make without added refined sugar.

Is There a Sugar-Free Carrot Cake Recipe?

Many people search the internet for sugar-free carrot cake, but this is impossible to make since carrots naturally contain a small quantity of sugar! However, it is possible to make a cake that contains no added refined sugar.

Our bodies do need some sugar for energy, but we can get this from natural unrefined sources, and we don't need refined sugars. Many sugar-free cake recipes use artificial sweeteners instead, but these have potentially serious side effects, and even some "natural" sweeteners such as Stevia or xylitol have been heavily processed.

I prefer foods as close to their natural state as possible, so this cake is sweetened with pureed dates. Date puree is easy to make and is high in fiber and nutrients, so it makes a great alternative to sugar. Although dates are sweet, several studies (such as this one in the Nutrition Journal) suggest they are safe for diabetics.

If you are following the FODMAP diet, dates aren't a suitable sugar substitute. An alternative would be maple syrup, which should be used in small quantities because—although it contains antioxidants and minerals—it is still high in natural sugars.

Finding the right ingredients for icing your sugar-free cake can be a challenge! This is a sugar-free cream cheese frosting.

Finding the right ingredients for icing your sugar-free cake can be a challenge! This is a sugar-free cream cheese frosting.

How to Ice a Sugar-Free Cake

The most challenging part of making a sugar-free cake is finding a way to make an icing or frosting. Luckily, carrot cake traditionally comes topped with soft cheese, and on its own this makes an acceptable topping. You can use a low-fat variety if keeping fat levels low is important.

Natural Topping Sweeteners

To make the topping more frosting-like, you can ass a small amount of a natural sweetener. It’s best to experiment a bit to see which you prefer. The options include:

  • baobab powder
  • lacuma powder
  • vanilla extract
  • applesauce
  • honey
  • date puree

I like to use either baobab or lacuma powders. These are low-glycemic powders made from the fruit of the African baobab tree or the South America lacuma tree. Both have many health benefits. The drawback with baobab in particular is that it is not always readily available and is fairly expensive. However, both powders last a long time because you only need a small quantity.

One advantage to using a powder is that this keeps the topping firm. With the other suggested sweeteners, the cream cheese topping can sometimes become a little runny, so it’s best to make the it in advance and let it firm up in the fridge.

The other natural sweeteners you could use include vanilla extract, applesauce and honey. (Recent studies suggest small quantities of honey do not raise blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetes.) Another option is to make some extra date puree and use that in the frosting. This will probably not be as smooth as the other options, but it will taste just as good!

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

50 min

1 hour 20 min

Approximately 12 slices

Ingredients

For the Carrot Cake:

  • 190 grams (6 ounces or 1 cup) dates
  • 250 grams (9 ounces or 1 1/2 cups) flour (wholemeal or spelt, unsifted volume)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 240 milliliters (8 fluid ounces or 1 cup) sunflower oil (corn oil is suitable substitute)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 340 grams (12 ounces or 2 cups) carrots (the cup measure is for carrots that have been grated or shredded in a food processor and is the volume when packed)

Optional:

  • 120 grams (4 ounces or 1 cup) chopped walnuts (it’s also nice with some ground almonds, as much or little as you fancy)
  • Whole walnuts to decorate

For the Topping:

  • 1 (225-gram or 8-ounce) pack of cream cheese, any variety. (Mascarpone cheese is also good, though pricey so best kept for special occasions.)

One of the Following:

  • 1 tablespoon boabab or lacuma powder
  • 1 tablespoon finely pureed dates (just add an extra 4 dates when preparing those for the cake and reserve one tablespoon for the topping.)
  • 1 dessert spoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of applesauce

Instructions

  1. Set the oven temperature to 180°C (160°C fan oven or 350°F or gas mark 4).
  2. Cover dates in water, and boil while you get on with the rest of cake. (Alternately, you can cover them with boiling water and leave to soak for several hours until soft.)
  3. Grease an 8-inch (20-centimeter) cake tin, and line with baking parchment, making it higher than the sides of the tin. (This helps prevent the cake burning on top.)
  4. In a large bowl sift together flour, salt, baking powder, soda and cinnamon. Add nuts if you are using them.
  5. Beat the eggs (this is easiest with an electric beater, but a whisk will do).
  6. Grate the carrots.
  7. The dates should be ready now, so remove them from the heat and puree till smooth.
  8. Add all wet ingredients—the carrots, eggs, oil and dates—to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  9. Pour into the baking tin and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. To check it is ready, insert a skewer into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean the cake is ready; if the skewer has cake mixture sticking to it, it needs to cook for longer.
  10. Tip: All ovens vary in how fast they cook, so it’s best to check the cake after the shorter time and leave in for longer if necessary. Do this quickly so the oven doesn’t cool.
  11. Leave the cake to cool for around 5 minutes and then turn onto a wire tray. Leave it to cool completely before adding the topping.
  12. Now make the topping: Beat the cream cheese till smooth. If using sweetener, add it to the cheese and beat till thoroughly mixed in.
  13. Spread on the cake. (It will not be completely smooth.)
  14. Decorate with walnuts if you are using them.

Cast Your Vote

Why Make a Sugar-Free Cake?

There is some evidence that excessive sugar consumption could contribute to high levels of unhealthy blood fats and lower levels of HDL (the good cholesterol.) High sugar consumption can increase the risk of contracting type 2 diabetes and can suppress the immune system.

Consuming refined sugar causes blood sugar levels to rise rapidly, and the body then produces more insulin to compensate. This then creates an drop in blood sugar. This seesaw effect creates energy slumps and can cause headaches. Often people eat refined sugar along with other refined carbohydrates such as white flour or white pasta. These have the same effect as refined sugar so adding to the seesaw effect.

On the other hand, eating complex carbohydrates creates more sustained energy. The cake in this recipe is made with wholemeal flour, which along with other ingredients, provides a steady release of energy.

Oil-Free Variation

if you want a low fat cake, you can simply omit the oil. We discovered this by accident when my daughter made the cake and forgot to add oil. The texture is more sponge-like, and it won't keep quite so long, but it tastes just fine.

This recipe makes a wonderful birthday cake!

This recipe makes a wonderful birthday cake!

Questions & Answers

Question: Do I have to add dates or can I just skip that for the carrot cake recipe?

Answer: It would taste more like a savoury cake if you didn't add the dates. If you don't have any you could use raisins or other dried fruit instead, but I find most other fruits have a stronger flavour. If you have a different sweetener you prefer to use, then it's fine to do so. I've made many variations of this cake and it's quite foolproof!

Question: I am icing my cake for a party. Should I ice it and then refrigerate, or ice it close to when it will be served? I made your recipe before, but when I put it in the fridge, the icing cracked. Obviously, I don't want that to happen before the party!

Answer: I'm glad you like the recipe! I'm not honestly sure of the answer to your question because I've never had that happen. I guess icing it shortly before you serve it would be the best idea. I'm sorry I didn't see your question earlier because I guess your party will have been now. I hope it went well!

Question: Do you strain the dates before adding them to this carrot cake? Do you have a measurement for how much water to soak the dates in? I made this recipe- it was very tasty! But the batter was very thick. I drained the water from the dates, so I'm wondering if that is where I went wrong.

Answer: I don't strain the dates before adding them, but if you want a very smooth texture you could do so to remove any more fibrous pieces. You don't need to drain the water from the dates, so long as you just use enough to cover them. (I can see that I could make this clearer, so thanks for your question.) If your batter is too thick when it's time to put it in the cake tin, just add some more water. It should be a dropping consistency.

Comments

Transplant west on May 14, 2020:

"you can ass a small amount " Might wanna correct this, certainly will change the "flavour"

Cynthia Hoover from Newton, West Virginia on May 07, 2020:

Thank you so much fo r the easy to follow directions! We are cutting down on sugars for my son who has a weight problem but he is little so cake is a nice treat. He specifically asked me yesterday if we could make a carrot cake. So glad I found this recipe he is going to be excited to make it with me.

Angie on September 09, 2019:

I made your recipe for a picnic. Instead of using a cake pan I made cupcakes. The recipe made 24 cupcakes which I baked for 20 minutes. They were very good.

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on February 05, 2018:

PK, I used ordinary dates, not oat covered ones, but you could use them too. They would work just as well. I wouldn't recommend coconut flour for this recipe because coconut flour needs more eggs and absorbs more liquid. Brown rice flour would be fine though, and I have used it sometimes. You might want to add about a third of a teaspoon of Xanthan Gum if you brown rice flour doesn't already contain it. This helps bind gluten free flours.

PK on January 21, 2018:

Curious if you cooked and then pureed chopped oat covered dates, or whole dates?

Also, has anyone tried using coconut or brown rice flour? Any gluten free flour suggestions??

Shirley D on August 12, 2017:

This is the best cake I have eaten I just love it, and I left off the icing. My girlfriend loved the icing. the perfect cake

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on June 03, 2017:

Yes, you could use Stevia. Hope you enjoy the cake!

Glen Rix from UK on June 03, 2017:

I wonder if stevia might work as a sweetener for the frosting? I'm quite partial to a slice of carrot cake but try to avoid too much sugar, so may attempt this recipe.

Alejandra Corredor on May 10, 2017:

I won't lie... I was afraid of trying it because many recipes I've found online haven't worked before.

But this, trust me, has been the best carrot cake I have ever had! I am really happy because my father is diabetic and now we'll have a great dessert to share. Finding good sugar-free desserts in my homecountry (Colombia) is difficult.

Thank you for posting this delish recipe!

Tina on March 22, 2017:

Yummy cake, made it for my daughter's first birthday. She loved it and us too!

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on March 17, 2017:

Tai B, thanks for your comment. The measurement for salt isn't listed because I don't add any salt! It's great that you are limiting your sugar intake, and I've found that removing salt from sweet recipes helps with that. (Salt and sugar tend to counteract each other. ) It's true that salt is a preservative, but I never find it to be needed in cakes. This cake keeps well for 4 or so days, and if you need to keep it longer you could either keep it in the fridge or freeze some. Or make it in 2 tins (reducing the cooking time a little) and freeze one of the cakes.

Tai B on March 15, 2017:

I love to bake and stopped since my family and I are limiting our sugar intake. This recipe looks promising, however, the measurement for salt is not listed under the ingredients.

Els on July 06, 2016:

Ive tried a sugar free carrot cake before and it was a disaster. Pleased to say that your recipe is brilliant and produced a fabulous cake! My friends all loved it and wouldn't have guessed it didn't have added sugar. Thank you!

Tori Leumas on July 17, 2015:

Great hub!

Sheilamarie from British Columbia on June 03, 2015:

I like the idea of using dates as a sweetener. Sounds great.

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on September 26, 2014:

Hope you enjoy it Nancy. I love this cake. Thanks for your comment and for pinning.

Nancy Owens from USA on September 24, 2014:

I love carrot cake and this sounds delish! I shared and pinned for future reference.

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on May 05, 2014:

It would work great as a loaf Rebecca!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on April 30, 2014:

Ah Ha! Sweetened with pureed dates ! How clever! I might try this as a loaf cake with no icing! Thanks!

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on May 17, 2013:

Ishwaryaa, sorry I didn't reply sooner, I must have missed your comment. Hope you enjoy this. I very often use pureed dates instead of sugar, and several of my recipes on here have them. I'll link them up.

Thanks very much for your comment and for sharing.

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on May 12, 2013:

An engaging recipe! I admire your novel idea of using pureed dates as a healthy substitute for refined sugar. Easy-to-follow instructions and drool-worthy photos make me want to give it a try. Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up, pinned & shared

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on May 10, 2013:

rose-the-planner, a little less sugar is definitely one of my mottos. I work on the theory that if I avoid it in baking as much as possible then it's okay to have the occasional cake when eating out. Hope you enjoy this cake - it really is tasty.

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on May 09, 2013:

A little less sugar in our lives is a good thing! This looks amazing. I will definitely have to try this. Thanks for sharing.

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on April 09, 2013:

Marcy, and Randomcreative, indulge away!

Sugar free and guilt-free!

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on April 09, 2013:

Livingsta, I haven't tried carrot cake with chopped dates, but I think this would come out differently, yes. I often use dates instead of sugar in baking and have successfully fed this to my children's friends, which is a pretty good test I think!

Thanks very much for sharing!

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on April 09, 2013:

Ruchira, you could probably use cream instead of the cream cheese topping and it would still be great. It's one of my favourite recipes and I'm sure you will enjoy it.

Sherri Faye, I also like that it's guilt free!

Thanks for your comments!

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on April 09, 2013:

Frank Atanacio,

Eiddwen

Realhousewife, thanks for your comments and hope you enjoy this cake as much as we do!

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on April 09, 2013:

Summerberrie, the frosting was the most challenging part to get right, but this one is definitely tasty. Thanks for popping by!

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on April 09, 2013:

Bill, I guarantee you won't miss the sugar! Thanks for your comment.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 03, 2013:

Who knew that you could make a delicious carrot cake recipe that is also sugar free? Thanks for the great recipe!

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on March 31, 2013:

Mmmmm - I need this recipe! I can indulge in sweets more than I should, so it is wonderful to know how to make a delicious dessert with no extra sugar!

livingsta from United Kingdom on March 30, 2013:

This sounds interesting Melovy. I have made dates and carrot cake in the past, where I chopped off dates finely and added to the cake mixture. That cake still required extra sugar. I like it's taste and it is healthy compared to other cakes.

This one with pureed dates sounds interesting, will definitely give it a try when I next bake one. Thank you for sharing this.

Votes up, pinning and sharing!

Sheri Dusseault from Chemainus. BC, Canada on March 30, 2013:

That sounds like a yummy and fairly guilt free treat. I will try it!

Ruchira from United States on March 29, 2013:

carrot cake and no sugar...wow this is like a half n half cream topping on top..loved the recipe, Melovy.

Thanks!

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on March 29, 2013:

I love carrot cake...having some this weekend and really looking forward to it!

Eiddwen from Wales on March 29, 2013:

A wonderful recipe which I vote up and save ;have a great day.

Eddy.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on March 28, 2013:

no sugar carrot cake..hmm gotta try it gave it a five star :)

summerberrie on March 28, 2013:

I love carrot cake. Especially the frosting. This sounds like a healthy winner for the Easter holiday and the spring season.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 28, 2013:

I love carrot cake....the messier the better. :) No sugar? I'm willing to try anything once. Thanks for the recipe, Yvonne!

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on March 28, 2013:

LaThing, I’m glad this will be useful for your family. I have quite a few “sugar-free” recipes because I try to limit my family’s intake too.

Thanks for the vote up!

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on March 28, 2013:

Susan, I’m pretty sure I have made it with almond flour in the past and it was fine. I haven’t tried rice flour so I’m not so sure about that. The texture might be too heavy, but I could be wrong! (If you want to reduce the calories more could try a little less oil.)

LaThing from From a World Within, USA on March 28, 2013:

I have started to cut down on sugar intake and this recipe will work great for my family. We love carrot cake and I haven't made one recently..... Thanks for sharing. Voting up and useful....

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on March 28, 2013:

This looks great especially since I'm trying to diet. Do you think I could use almond or brown rice flour?