- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Coat a 25 cm fluted ring tin with nonstick cooking spray. Dust the tin with a little flour, tapping out any excess.
- Place the flour, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl and stir together. Make a well in the centre. Place the buttermilk, oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla essence in a bowl and whisk until blended and frothy. Pour into the well in the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Fold in the carrots.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Lightly tap the tin to break up any large air bubbles. Bake until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the icing, place the vanilla essence, cream cheese and buttermilk in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer until softened. Gradually add the icing sugar and blend just until the icing is smooth. Place the cake on a serving plate and cover with the icing, letting some drip down the sides. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.
This heart-smart cake recipe uses about one-third the oil of the traditional recipe, only 3 eggs instead of 5, and buttermilk for extra moistness.
Cooking carrots, as in this recipe, breaks down the cellular walls that hold the heart-healthy beta carotene, thus increasing the availability of this vital nutrient to the body.