Recipe: No-added sugar, date, carrot, and parsnip cake

Recipe: No-added sugar, date, carrot, and parsnip cake

A diabetes-friendly birthday cake

Free-from baking really need not be that hard and can bring a delicious new dimension to your bakes, whether you have diabetes or not.

Of course, a no-added sugar cake is never going to be as light and fluffy as a regular sponge, but this one is dense, moist and packed with flavour. Sweetened with soaked dates and finely grated carrots and parsnips, which are also naturally sweet, you’ll barely notice it’s not a ‘normal’ cake.

Natural sugars in fruit and veg will have some impact on your blood sugar, but they’re considered much less 'bad' than artificially added sugar because of the other health benefits they bring.

Serve with citrus labneh, a thick strained yoghurt that’s very popular in the Middle East. And don't forget the candles!

Ingredients for a tasty no-added sugar, date, carrot and parsnip cake

Ingredients for a tasty no-added sugar, date, carrot and parsnip cake

Makes 15 x 2” square pieces

For the cake:

  • 40g dried dates
  • 170g self-raising flour
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 40g walnut pieces
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Zest of ½ orange
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 4-5 tbs water for soaking dates
  • 300g carrots and parsnips, peeled and finely grated

For the labneh:

  • 200g pot Greek yogurt
  • Zest of ½ orange


  1. A few hours before baking, place the dates in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Set to one side and allow to soak.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/gas mark 4. Drain the dates, reserving the soaking water, and cut into small pieces, discarding the stones.
  3. Place the flour, ground almonds, dates, walnuts, spice, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and orange zest into bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and date water together. Fold the grated carrots and parsnips into the flour mixture.
  4. Fold the egg mixture into the dry ingredients to make a thick batter, adding a little more date water if needed.
  5. Line a 8” x 6” baking tin with parchment paper and lightly oil. Spread the mixture into the tin and bake for about 30 minutes until risen, and when a cocktail stick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  6. Allow to rest for four minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.
  7. For the labneh, line a sieve or colander with a tightly woven muslin cloth and place over a bowl. Dollop the yogurt into the cloth and allow to stand and strain for a few hours, or overnight in the fridge.
  8. Remove the strained yoghurt from the cloth and stir through the orange zest. Spread over the cake before serving. You can use the leftover whey as a smoothie base or for watering plants; it’s full of nutrients.
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