This juicy carrot cake has a subtle and exotic taste

Carrot cake and scones are favourites for afternoon tea
Carrot cake and scones are favourites for afternoon tea

Afternoon Tea Week is just around the corner (August 14-20) so celebrate by baking a family favourite to go with your scones and cream.

Tony Staples, executive head chef of the Arora Hotel in Crawley, shares his recipe.

Tony Staples

Tony Staples

Who doesn’t love an afternoon tea? We don’t need an awareness week as an excuse to enjoy this traditional British favourite, but it would be rude not to join in the celebrations. While scones are always the star of the show, for me the best bit is a juicy carrot cake.

When I started working in the catering industry, the staff chef at the time, Brenda O’Leary, made the best carrot cake I have ever eaten. Sadly, she has passed away but her recipe lives on. I have been making her recipe for so long the page in my recipe book is a bit dog-eared. It is so easy children could help make it.

I use coconut oil to give it a subtle exotic taste, and margarine for the topping to give it a silky finish.

If you’re the sort of person who goes on a guilt trip each time you eat cake, then tell yourself that with all the carrot, this one has got to be part of your five a day. Right?

The Arora Hotel serves traditional afternoon tea with freshly made sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream and a selection of home-made mini cakes for £18.50 per person. To book, phone 01293 530000. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook. Share your favourite afternoon tea treats with us on Instagram by tagging @aroragatwick.


Brenda O’Leary’s Carrot Cake

Makes one tray bake

255g plain flour

400g caster sugar

1tsp baking powder

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

1tsp ground cinnamon

1tsp salt

200ml of coconut oil, melted

4 eggs, beaten

500g grated carrot

For the topping:

85g cream cheese

340g margarine

Seeds from one vanilla pod

400g sifted icing sugar


Put all the ingredients, except the topping, into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Grease and line a 4cm deep baking tray or roasting tin (approx. 25cm x 33cm) with parchment paper. Pour in the carrot cake mix. Bake in a preheated oven, 180oC, for 30-40minutes. Test the cake with a skewer to ensure it is cooked. Leave to cool in tin.

Beat the cream cheese, margarine and vanilla seeds together, slowly add the icing sugar until you have a glossy topping.

Tip the cake out of the tin and spread with the topping, making patterns with a fork. Cut into wedges and serve.

Chef’s tip

You can add a large handful of raisins or chopped nuts to the mix. Or sprinkle chopped nuts onto the topping and dust with icing sugar.

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