I’m one of those few people who happens to have been blessed/cursed with both a sweet tooth and a savoury tongue. Sure, you could take that to mean I just really like eating, but it sounds far more sophisticated the first way. I can never decide whether to go sweet or savoury, meaning I’ll probably end up going with both… a conclusion that tends up being a little cumbersome for my poor student wallet, and my waistline.
This means that foods that lie in more blurred territory, are great! Things like salted caramel and pecan based desserts (check out the Maple and Pecan Plait from Aldi’s bakery… my mouth is watering just thinking about them), apple sausages (if you haven’t tried them, do it now), sweet and sour sauce, prosciutto wrapped melon, cheese with grapes – are often a good compromise. They’ll satisfy each dimension of my craving, in one handy little bite.
This is the foundation of why carrot cake is my favourite cake. It’s sweet (obviously), but not too sweet. In fact, I find the mark of a good carrot cake is the gentle balance between the more savoury, almost spicy, and wholesome cake, and the sweeter, creamier icing. Few people dare stray from the traditional cream cheese icing that reigns supreme on carrot cakes, and for good reason. A carrot cake can sometimes seem to be erring on the ‘healthy’ side of things, and this needs to be promptly stopped by a dollop of frosting.
Side note: If you’re wondering why I’m not bothering to mention fruitcake in all this, its because fruitcake is boring and rubbish. Dense, grim looking things. Quite frankly it’s neither particularly fruity or particularly cake-y, which seems rather misleading, and if any effort has been put into icing at all, then it tends to be that stiff marzipan-ey stuff that I also find unpalatable. Just googling ‘fruitcake’ brings up baked goods so unappetising they should be censored from children and marked with a warning sign ‘may cause nausea or intense distress’.Feel free to find me a fruitcake that will change my mind.
Unfortunately, not all carrot cake was born equal. We live in a world full of dry, bland, disappointing cakes with either no icing at all, or some hideously sweet flavoured icing that hides any hint of elegance. I’ve had one too many of these cakes. Just one, is too many, in fact – so to save you that tragic moment, I’ve began to compile a list of the most splendid carrot cakes in London. This is not an exhaustive list, as I have not, and never will, have tried every single carrot cake in London. I’d be long gone before that were ever possible, probably of some obesity and/or nutrient deficiency related issue. I will also continue to update the list for as long as I can – my list of carrot cakes to try is huge, so no doubt it will grow in parallel with my stomach.
Quick note: there are a few carrot cakes that are supposed to be on here, but I can’t find the picture, so excuse me a couple weeks where I have to go back and take a photo and try them again.. oh no, woe is me. So there’ll be a couple more up here very soon! Let me know if you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!
The slightly funky contender
L’eto’s Mango and Passion fruit Caribbean Carrot Cake
This has been hands down the creamiest carrot cake I have tried in London. Somehow they managed to make both the icing and the cake seriously melt-in-your-mouth, and the mango and passionfruit adds an extra element that is surprisingly not overpowering at all. I didn’t taste much coconut (the cake is described as having a unique ‘tropical coconutty flavour’), but perhaps I missed this as I devoured the thing. A little on the expensive side for a slice of cake (was around £7 I think), but for the location and quality, I’d say worth it. Had spot on service too!
Blackbird Bakery Queens Road Peckham
This carrot cake, was quite simply, divine. Everything was perfect. The cream cheese frosting was classic and simply, the sponge was moist with the perfect amount of *bite*, and the addition of nuts meant even in a traditional recipe it was never boring. It was £4.20 to have sit in (but it’s even cheaper to take out), and it was a very generous slice! The environment in the bakery is gorgeous. My hot chocolate was slightly bland unfortunately, but this tends to be the fate of the drink that gets side stepped in favour of coffee.
The Vegan One
Red Lion Coffee Co.
There are many options out there for vegan carrot cakes, or even raw vegan carrot cakes (which I may add in at a later date but I find it hard to compare them to regular carrot cakes as the consistency and makeup of the cakes are completely different), but so far I think my favourite has been the one at Red Lion Coffee Co. in New Cross. There are no frills on this cake, but
the simple fact that it tastes great, and absolutely no different from one that isn’t vegan, makes it a winner. Red Lion Coffee Co. actually does really fantastic icing too on all their cakes (including this one), and is very generous with the ratio of icing to cake (sometimes it’s a little too much, but because their vegan cakes are only iced on top, it’s easy to balance out the ratio to your taste). I think this was around 3-4 pounds, which I’d say is average, and there’s always very lovely service in the shop which is always appreciated.
Carrot cake for… cake haters?
Why are you here if you don’t like cake? Don’t worry, I’m only judging you a tiny bit because I’ve still got you covered – introducing, Hotel Chocolat’s Carrot Cake chocolates! £3.95 for six, I was assured in store they were made with real carrots and walnuts (not just flavouring). They’re spicy, full of flavour, and taste a little like Christmas? But, a very carrot cake-y Christmas. Technically these are available in stores all around England, but I got mine in Covent Garden.
Some notable contenders that didn’t quite make it onto the list but are very close runners up:
Gail’s Bakery Carrot Cake – So many delicious layers…
Peyton and Byrne Mini Carrot Cake – Really truly delicious and in perfect little portions! Having said that, more is always welcome..