Debbie’s Delicious Carrot Cake

A heavenly-spiced, double-decker cake iced with cream cheese frosting.  Apple sauce makes it extra moist and delicious.   Makes 12 servings.

Photo: d. king

I’ve tried several carrot cake recipes including my mom’s (which included in the ingredients crushed pineapple and some mayo).  Sorry mom, it was always my favourite, however my carrot cake connoisseur boyfriend says this one knocks them all out of the park.  But we’ll let you be the judge. 

For the Cake:

1 ½ cups sugar (I always use organic cane sugar)

1 cup unsweetened apple sauce (if you have the time, making it yourself is best)

4 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups *flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground cloves

3 cups grated carrot

1 cup walnut or pecan pieces

1 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Lightly grease and flour 2, 8-inch round cake pans.

To make doubly sure the cakes do not stick, cut 2 rounds of parchment  (I swear by parchment – it’s a baking life saver) the same size as the bottom of the pans and set them in.  Place the sugar, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla in a bowl and mix until well combined.  Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices into another bowl, and then mix into the wet mixture until just combined.  Fold in carrots, nuts and raisins.  Divide and spoon the batter among the pans.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of each cake pulls out clean.  Cool the cake on a baking rack in their pans for 30 minutes, then un mould and cool to room temperature.

To frost and decorate

250 gram pkg. hard cream cheese, at room temperature (I use Philadelphia)

1 cup butter, at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups icing sugar (I used organic icing sugar for the fist time and while still sugar; it made me feel better about eating it – it was also easier to beat ).

Place the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until quite light.  Gradually beat in the icing sugar until fully incorporated.  Set 1 cake layer, crowned-side down, on your cake stand.  Spread a ¼ inch layer of frosting on it, and then set on the second cake, crowned-side down.  Frost the top and sides of the cake, doing so as neatly and smoothly as you can (not so much for me this time).

If desired, after frosting, you could also coat the sides or top of the cake with unsweetened shreds of coconut and/or walnuts or pecans.

The Added Touch

You could also decorate the top of the cake with small carrots made of marzipan.  To do so, color 100 grams of marzipan orange with **food color.  Divide it into 12 pieces and roll each one into a carrot shape.  Use the back of a pairing knife and make a few shallow, indentations on one side of each piece to give it a slightly wrinkled carrot-like look.

Arrange the carrots on top of the cake.  As you can see, I omitted this extra special step this time around.  

*You can easily make this gluten-free by substituting regular flour for gluten-free.  This time I used “Namaste gluten-free Perfect Flour Blend” and it was divine.  Having said that, I have to admit that using regular cake & pastry flour makes for a perfect tasting allover cake. I was quite pleased though with this gluten-free flour blend.  Make sure you read the package to see how easily adaptable it is for baking – not all are created equal.

**Juicing carrots will provide you with a natural dye alternative that will emit NO additional flavor when used moderately. For a more saturated color, reduce the liquid into a syrup.  This will produce a more vivid color, without changing the properties of the dish.

Enjoy!

Food: Oh So Moist Carrot Cake

This moist, rich cake is made using whole grain flour, fruits and veggies, more “natural” sweeteners and healthy oils. Your kitchen will smell divine with the aroma of warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves as this cake bakes.

Coconut whipped cream with toasted coconut flakes
Little Loaf – topped with whipped coconut cream & toasted coconut flakes

I took this original recipe and divided it into individual loaf pans to give to friends.  Makes three.  Instead of the usual cream cheese or traditional whipped cream topping I whipped coconut milk (without guar gum in the ingredients) with a little maple syrup & vanilla extract.  It’s a much healthier alternative but the secret is to make sure the coconut milk is very well chilled.  Leave the can in the fridge for at least one hour.  It can also be helpful to put your mixing bowl and beaters (or blade) in as well, so everything is very cold.  As far as the cake goes, you can always substitute some of the pineapple for grated zucchini (as I did for a few of them), omit the walnuts entirely and/or add raisins.  I made my own apple sauce.

Carrots – Carrots are one of the best sources of beta carotene, which balances the immune system and reduces the risk of many cancers. They also guard against cardiovascular disease, reduce inflammation, slow the aging process, and are great for digestion disorders. They also contain fiber, calcium, iron, and many other vitamins and minerals.

Cinnamon – This spice has antiseptic properties, is a digestive aid, has anticancer properties, and is beneficial for the heart, lungs, and kidneys. It also helps lower blood pressure and makes insulin more efficient thus controlling blood sugar spikes.

Walnuts – These nuts contain beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids that are great for the brain and lowering cholesterol. They are also high in protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

Pineapple – Pineapple is an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. It is also rich in the enzyme bromelain, which aids in digestion, is an anti-inflammatory, and an anti-cancer agent. It can greatly reduce the swelling of carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and gout.20161116_101505

Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup olive or coconut oil (I used organic virgin coconut oil)
2 eggs (or 2 Tbs ground flax seeds soaked in 6 Tbs water)
1 cup raw carrot, grated (2-3)
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

Dry Ingredients

1 cup whole grain spelt flour, rice flour, kamut flour or combination
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 tsp unrefined salt (I used himalayan)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
optional: 1 tsp ground ginger, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, ¼ tsp ground cloves (I used a pumpkin spice mix)

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix together gently.
  4. Pour into a greased 7×11 inch cake pan (or a muffin tin) or individual loaf pans,
  5. Bake at 350ºF until a toothpick comes out clean, approximately 40 minutes (20 minutes for cupcakes in a muffin tin). Cool and serve.

    “If your regrets linger, if you cannot find inspiration in solitude, then
    you still have much to learn from the writers and poets and the cooks
    on becoming the artist of your own life… you can never re-create the
    past. But you can shape your own future. And you can make a cake.”

    ~ Jacqueline Duval, in ‘Reckless Appetite a Culinary Romance’

Photos: d. king