Carrot walnut date cake

My Italian neighbour, Gianni, sampled this double-layer cake and with hands held high he looked at me and said, “Mama mia!”. This cake is moist and delicious. It also makes a great birthday cake.

As mentioned in a previous post, this is the third dessert with cashew paste. I made this carrot cake from on an old recipe that I used to make many years ago in Canada. However, I have substituted the ingredients with healthier alternatives. I know, I’ve done this before and I’ll do it again.

Years ago, this carrot cake with icing was made with 5 cups of white sugar. In this recipe, there’s only 1/2 cup of sugar and it’s all in the icing. The sugar is necessary to give the icing the right texture.

This icing has less saturated fat and calories than traditional cream cheese icings. I used cashew paste instead of butter and reduced-fat-cream cheese instead of full-fat cream cheese. If your diet is vegan or lactose-free, you can obtain the same icing by substituting the cream cheese with firm silken tofu. See recipe below.

Carrot date cake

Level: Moderate

Serves: 8-10

Oven: 180°C / 350°F


Wet ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 cup date paste (12 medjool dates)*
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup light oil, such as canola, vegetable or grape seed oil

Dry ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup natural rolled oats, coursely ground (not too powdery nor too flaky) in small processor, blender or grinder.
  • ½ teaspoon (tsp) salt
  • 2 tsps powdered cinnamon
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon (tbsp) baking powder
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped small
  • 4 cups grated carrots


  • 340 grams (12 ounces) reduced fat cream cheese or- Firm Silken Tofu for vegan – both at room temperature.
  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight in warm water -or- 2 hours in boiled water (see here).
  • 2 tablespoons (tbsp) pure lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

* Put 12 pitted medjool dates in a small bowl and add a little water just to cover the dates. Heat in microwave on high for 30 seconds. Process the softened dates with the water with a handheld blender or small food processor until smooth. This will make one cup of date paste. For more information on date paste, view here.


For the cake:

Prepare 2 X 24 cm (9.5 inches) round springform pans with parchment paper and grease the sides. Put the wet ingredients in a medium-size bowl and mix with electric beaters until blended. Put all dry ingredients, except the carrots, in a large bowl and hand mix.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and beat on low speed until well mixed. Add the carrots and mix. Pour equal portions of the batter in the two pans and spread evenly. Put both pans in pre-heated oven and bake them together for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. If you have a small oven, bake one pan at a time, for 40 minutes each.

For the icing:

When the cashews have soaked, strain the water and rinse them through a sieve. Put the cashews in a high-speed blender and add the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Blend until competely smooth and creamy.

In a separate medium-size bowl, beat the cream cheese or the tofu with electric beaters until smooth. Add the cashew paste and beat more. Add the confectioner’s sugar and grated lemon peel. Beat until well mixed. Cover and chill in fridge.

When the cakes are done, let them cool for 15 minutes before removing rim of pans. Let the cakes cool completely before icing them. When ready, set one cake upside down on a cake platter. Spread a layer of icing over the top. Set the second cake on top, right side up. Cover the cake top and sides with icing. This cake keeps in fridge for 5-6 days in a sealed cake container or with a large bowl turned over the cake. Bon appétit!


Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

5 thoughts on “Carrot walnut date cake

  1. Now that sounds like a great carrot nut cake which I think will be great for Thanksgiving. When are you coming out with your cook book Julie. These recipes are not only delicious but are good for you.

    1. Coming from you, another great cook, this is a genuine compliment! Will keep you in the know about a cookbook!Thanksgiving already? I’m just trying to get ready for teaching in September! I start with back to back meetings first thing tomorrow morning and I’m still jetlagged.

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