No-added Sugar Carrot Cake Recipe

Updated on March 13, 2018

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3.2 stars from 142 ratings of No-Added Sugar Carrot Cake

Sugar Free Carrot Cake Recipe?

Many people search the internet for sugar-free carrot cake, bu 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 don't need refined sugars. Many sugar-free carrot 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 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.

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.

Sugar-Free Cream Cheese Frosting

Finding the right ingredients for icing your sugar-free cake can be a challenge!
Finding the right ingredients for icing your sugar-free cake can be a challenge! | Source

Icing 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 a small amount of a natural sweetener. It’s best to experiment a bit to see which you prefer. I like to use either baobab or lacuma powders. These are a 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.

Other natural sweeteners you could use are: vanilla extract, applesauce or 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 will taste just as good!

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 50 min
Ready in: 1 hour 20 min
Yields: approximately 12 slices

No-Added Sugar Carrot Cake Ingredients

  • 190 grams/6oz dates/1 cup
  • 250gram/9 oz/1 ½ cups flour (wholemeal or spelt, unsifted volume)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 240ml/8 fluid oz/1 cup sunflower oil (corn oil is suitable substitute)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 340grams/12 oz/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 Ingredients

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


Topping Ingredients

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

Any 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

Oven temperature: 180°C/160°Fan oven/350°F/Gas mark 4.


1) 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.)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cook the dates. (These dates have been chopped, but you don’t need to do that.) Line the tin with greaseproof paper, and then grease it with oil or butter. Beat the eggs. Pour wet ingredients into dry.Adding the carrots.Mix thoroughly. Pour into the cake pan. The top of the cake may crack slightly.
Cook the dates. (These dates have been chopped, but you don’t need to do that.)
Cook the dates. (These dates have been chopped, but you don’t need to do that.) | Source
Line the tin with greaseproof paper, and then grease it with oil or butter.
Line the tin with greaseproof paper, and then grease it with oil or butter. | Source
Beat the eggs.
Beat the eggs. | Source
Pour wet ingredients into dry.
Pour wet ingredients into dry. | Source
Adding the carrots.
Adding the carrots. | Source
Mix thoroughly.
Mix thoroughly. | Source
Pour into the cake pan.
Pour into the cake pan. | Source
The top of the cake may crack slightly.
The top of the cake may crack slightly. | Source

2) Grease an 8 inch/20 cm cake tin, and line with baking parchment, making it higher than the sides of the tin. (This helps prevent the cake burning on top.)

3) In a large bowl sift together flour, salt, baking powder, soda and cinnamon. Add nuts if you are using them.

4) Beat the eggs (this is easiest with an electric beater, but a whisk will do.)

5) Grate the carrots.

6) The dates should be ready now, so remove them from the heat and puree till smooth.

7) Add all wet ingredients - the carrots, eggs, oil and dates - to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

8) Pour into the baking tin and bake for 45 - 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.

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.

9) 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.


Click thumbnail to view full-size

To Make the Topping

  1. Beat the cream cheese till smooth.
  2. If using sweetener, add it to the cheese and beat till thoroughly mixed in.
  3. Spread on the cake. (It will not to completely smooth.)
  4. Decorate with walnuts if you are using them.


Approximate values per 100 gram slice (makes 12 slices.)

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 100
Calories 347
Calories from Fat225
% Daily Value *
Fat 25 g38%
Saturated fat 6 g30%
Carbohydrates 28 g9%
Sugar 11 g
Fiber 4 g16%
Protein 6 g12%
Cholesterol 63 mg21%
Sodium 185 mg8%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

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.

Source

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        5 months ago from UK

        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.

      • profile image

        PK 

        5 months ago

        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??

      • profile image

        Shirley D 

        11 months ago

        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

      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        13 months ago from UK

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

      • Glenis Rix profile image

        GlenR 

        13 months ago from UK

        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.

      • profile image

        Alejandra Corredor 

        14 months ago

        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!

      • profile image

        Tina 

        16 months ago

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

      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        16 months ago from UK

        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.

      • profile image

        Tai B 

        16 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Els 

        2 years ago

        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!

      • renee21 profile image

        renee21 

        2 years ago

        Great hub!

      • sheilamarie78 profile image

        Sheilamarie 

        3 years ago from British Columbia

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

      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        3 years ago from UK

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

      • Nancy Owens profile image

        Nancy Owens 

        3 years ago from USA

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

      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        4 years ago from UK

        It would work great as a loaf Rebecca!

      • rebeccamealey profile image

        Rebecca Mealey 

        4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

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

      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        5 years ago from UK

        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.

      • ishwaryaa22 profile image

        Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 

        5 years ago from Chennai, India

        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

      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        5 years ago from UK

        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 profile image

        rose-the planner 

        5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

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

      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        5 years ago from UK

        Marcy, and Randomcreative, indulge away!

        Sugar free and guilt-free!

      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        5 years ago from UK

        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!

      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        5 years ago from UK

        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!

      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        5 years ago from UK

        Frank Atanacio,

        Eiddwen

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

      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        5 years ago from UK

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

      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        5 years ago from UK

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

      • randomcreative profile image

        Rose Clearfield 

        5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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

      • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

        Marcy Goodfleisch 

        5 years ago from Planet Earth

        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 profile image

        livingsta 

        5 years ago from United Kingdom

        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 Faye profile image

        Sheri Dusseault 

        5 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

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

      • Ruchira profile image

        Ruchira 

        5 years ago from United States

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

        Thanks!

      • RealHousewife profile image

        Kelly Umphenour 

        5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

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

      • Eiddwen profile image

        Eiddwen 

        5 years ago from Wales

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

        Eddy.

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 

        5 years ago from Shelton

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

      • profile image

        summerberrie 

        5 years ago

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

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        5 years ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        5 years ago from UK

        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!

      • Melovy profile imageAUTHOR

        Yvonne Spence 

        5 years ago from UK

        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 profile image

        LaThing 

        5 years ago from From a World Within, USA

        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....

      • Just Ask Susan profile image

        Susan Zutautas 

        5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

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

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