Carrot Cake

A very British carrot cake

Discover the best of the best carrot cake with a few top secret ingredients. This recipe is inspired by the incredible carrot cake of GAIL’s bakery. I made a couple of substitution and used way less butter so you can more easily make the cake at home.  

Italian vs. British carrot cake

I remember eating a carrot cake for the first time when I was eight years old. It was part of a buffet after an athletic contest. I was so amazed that veggies could be served as a dessert.

The Italian carrot cake has a much more delicate flavour than the British one, almonds and orange are the core ingredients. It’s a light cake you eat for breakfast with a dust of icing sugar and a quick espresso.

The British carrot cake is completely different. It has a strong decisive flavour coming from the muscovado sugar and the spicy oily batter. A very British carrot cake needs to be moist and have that weird thing of cheese frosting. It is perfect served with a hot milky tea in the afternoon.

I equally love both cakes and I might say that they are both my favourite cakes in the entire world. While the first bake came natural to me, the second one has been tough to master. I had to make many attempts before baking a very British carrot cake.

I am proudly sharing the recipe with you today, so no secrets will be holding you back.

A long journey to a British citizenship

It’s not a chance, I am sharing my carrot cake recipe with you today. This week is a big one. I am in fact becoming a British citizen this week.

It has been a long journey with lots of documents, money transfers, and tests along the way.

I remember the first time I visited London as an adult as it was yesterday. It was 2012. I was meeting Riccardo, now my husband, at Blackfriars station.

The smell of London air

I arrived from Stansted with a huge suitcase, hopped on a bus, got off at Victoria bus station. I walked till the train station and got lost so many times along the way.

I arrived at exactly 5.30 pm. Peak time. People were rushing, running, and pushing me aside. I felt so lonely, small, and insignificant. I questioned all the choices that led me there, in London, meeting this guy, at exactly 5.30 pm.

After a big breath, I took the tube, met Riccardo at Blackfriars, and felt at home in a big hug.

We then took another bus and arrived at his place in Whitechapel, soaked in rain.

The streets were so dirty, plastic bags were flying around, chaotic people from the entire world were passing by. The heavy air was scented with petrichor and chicken curry, the heavy air was infused with doubts and dreams.

Ah, you never forget the first time you smell the air of London.

Many times, many ways

I have then been in London on and off till moving (for good?) in 2016.

One year ago, I started my application to become a British citizen.  We could say that this process began much earlier though.

I failed many times but learnt so much along the way.

First, the tea – a cliché. Before moving to this country, I thought every tea tasted the same. How naïve! I’ve learnt this the hard way. My first boss laughed at me disgusted when I brought him earl grey instead of a regular breakfast tea with milk in the morning.

Second, the politeness. Okay let’s be real: the fake politeness. The continuous shower of excuse me, please, thank you, but also the introductory how-are-you? that is not meant to be answered.

Third, the brilliant British humour. The first shock of what-are-they-on-earth-talking-about soon became an enormous belly laugh without you realising.

Fourth, the ever-changing weather. You got to pack for four seasons even if it’s just a day trip and always be ready to sing in the rain.

Fifth, the big contrasts. The stiff and romantic traditions mingling with a thirst for innovation. The simple grammar getting so complex with the weirdest idioms – You lose the plot, you’re taking the piss, you’ve dropped a clanger are a few of my favourites. The sports as a religion, best practiced with a pint at the pub. The love for food from around the world, yet a hidden racism for the people cooking it…a beast to defeat.

Lastly, maybe my favourite, maybe just a London thing, maybe not true at all: the not giving a damn. I feel Londoners feel free to be whoever they want, they care less about what others think. In London, you can wear whatever you like. In London, you can weight how much you like. In London, you can kiss whoever you like. In my life, I want to embrace the London’s art of not giving a damn.

A long journey to a carrot cake

No cake would sum up this journey of mine as well as a carrot cake.

I baked so many carrot cakes in my lifetime trying to recreate the perfect colour and texture of the original British one.

 I tried the one with walnuts. I tried the one with a butter frosting. I tried the one with sultanas. I tried the one with lots of cinnamon.

I failed many times but learnt so much along the way.

First, you got to use a mellow muscovado sugar. This will give a rich caramel tone to your cake.

Second, you got to add a secret ingredient: pineapple chunks. The carrots on their own won’t give the cake a consistency that is moist enough. I’ll be forever grateful to GAIL’s bakery for this tip. The taste is subtle, and it will just lift the sweetness of the carrots. No one will ever know that there is pineapple in your cake. It’s magic!

Third, you got to use allspice. Without much thinking, you can add a few spoons directly to your batter. Forget doing ratios and complex math.  

Fourth, add a bit of your own. I love sugary stem ginger so I decided to add small chunks in the batter (sssh, that’s a secret). This will give each bite extra tanginess and sharpness, plus make your cake irresistible.

Fifth, go for pecans if you can. This might not be very British (oopsie!) but I find pecans perfectly marry the caramel flavour of muscovado sugar.

Lastly, embrace the weird cheese thing and complete the cake with an acid cheesy top to contrast the sweetness of the carrots.

Who would have thought

While life presents you with unexpected paths, choosing which road to walk is up to us.

I would have never thought that one day I would become a Londoner.

I’ll be forever Italian, but I feel very honoured to be able to choose one more citizenship for me. I am so excited to be able to contribute more to the country I live in.

Italian citizenship came with birth, British citizenship came with work.

This week is a big one. From this week on, a passport will say that a day I chose to be a Londoner forever most.

A very British carrot cake

Course: Something SweetDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Baking time



Discover the best of the best carrot cake with a few top secret ingredients. This recipe is inspired by the incredible carrot cake of GAIL’s bakery. I made a couple of substitution and used way less butter so you can more easily make the cake at home.  


  • Cake
  • 3 eggs at room temperature

  • 175 ml rapeseed oil

  • 125 g muscovado sugar

  • 300 g plain flour

  • 1 tsp ground allspice

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • A pinch of salt

  • 250 g grated carrots

  • 50 g diced stem ginger in syrup

  • 150 g pineapple chunks

  • 30 g pineapple syrup

  • 100 g finely chopped pecans

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • Frosting
  • 150 g cream cheese at room temperature

  • 150 g vanilla yoghurt at room temperate

  • 3 tbsp icing sugar

  • 2 tbsp ginger syrup

  • 25 g diced stem ginger

  • Around 15 whole pecans

  • Equipment
  • Two 20-cm cake tins

  • Hand mixer or stand mixer


  • Cake
  • Take out all the icing’s ingredients now as you need them at room temperature – you can thank me in the comments!
  • Beat three eggs with sugar and oil
  • Stir in the flour till it’s all absorbed, then add the spices.
  • Consequentially add the diced stem ginger, pineapple chunks and a bit of the syrup from the pineapple’s can. Don’t worry the taste of the pineapple is surprisingly subtle – no one will know it’s there but that’s the secret ingredient of any top carrot cakes.
  • Lastly add the chopped nuts, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and stir in well.
  • Pour the batter into two 20-cm cake tins and bake for 45 – 50 mins at 180 C. In case the surface browns too quickly cover it with foil.
  • Let the cakes cool down for at least an hour.
  • Frosting
  • While the cakes cool down, make the frosting. My frosting is much lighter than the usual one, that’s because I am personally not a fun of icing. To me cream cheese mixed with plain yoghurt and just a bit of icing sugar is the best type of frosting on earth, but note that’s a different type of frosting than the one you are probably used to.
  • Now let’s assemble the cake: spread one-third of the icing on the first cake (both top and sides), add some diced stem ginger on top, top with the second cake and spread over the remaining icing (both top and sides).
  • You can decorate the cake with the help of a fork (see video) and finish off with a few whole pecans. I hope you’ll enjoy this cake, it’s my top secret recipe and absolute favourite cake.


  • MUSCOVADO SUGAR doesn’t exist where you live? No worries, simply use brown sugar. Your cake will have a less moisty consistency but it will be still incredibly delicious!
  • To make delicious ICING you got to follow three simple rules: 1. use ingredients at room temperature. 2. You’ll have to beat the three ingredients for a good 5 – 10 minutes. Rush is not your friend. 3. Make sure to sift the icing sugar first, you don’t want any lumps.
  • MY ICING is delicious but it melts much more quickly than the traditional one. Please make sure to keep the cake refrigerated overnight before serving it or eat the cake immediately.

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