September 27, 2010

Carrot cakes in excruciating detail



The only requests from my friends for their wedding carrot cakes were: no fruit, and include nuts. I knew I had to start with test cakes.


The first recipe I tested was from America's Test Kitchen. It was tasty but strangely light and fluffy and not what I wanted at all. When I think of carrot cake I think of dense, sticky, rich. Now I have to wonder about those folks over at America's Test Kitchen. Can I even trust them anymore? With this cake I scrubbed the carrots but didn't peel them. Two days later little green flecks appeared in the cake. Lesson learned. Peel yer carrots.


I started working the vegan angle instead and tried a vegan carrot cake recipe from the Whole Foods app on my iPhone. It was well received but shredded immediately upon frosting. I liked the strong spices though. 


I decided to come up with my own, taking what I liked from each recipe. To make the cake darker I used brown sugar instead of white, and I added some whole wheat flour as well as some cocoa, a trick I learned from baking pumpernickel bread. To make it moist I added oat milk and applesauce. I used more carrots than either of the other recipes also. This version was much closer to what I wanted. I was running out of testing time so I decided to stick with it.


To make it vegan I used egg replacer and fiddled with the liquids. The frosting was the challenge here. I never quite perfected it. I first tried Vegan Gourmet brand vegan cream cheese: disgusting. I threw it in the trash. I almost gave up right there but Google convinced me to try Tofutti "Better than cream cheese" and it worked fine. I haven't figured out the right vegan margarine though. I used what we had in the fridge, Earth Balance, which tastes great on our bread but in the frosting had this kind of chemically fragrance and aftertaste. A more subtle margarine would be better. This frosting also ended up kind of watery, which was not a tragedy but definitely skip the lemon juice for this one or you'll have a runny mess. The regular cream cheese frosting was amazing and I ate about a cup of it that weekend. I'm gonna tell myself that's ok because I'm still breastfeeding.


As I was mixing up a double batch of cake mix in my soup pot (since I didn't have any bowls big enough!) I had to laugh at myself. This whole process certainly made me a better baker. I now understand why we have cooking spray and parchment paper. And somehow, despite the fact that I have eaten pounds of this carrot cake in the past month, I still want to have more of it. At the wedding the two cakes were totally gone by the end of the night. The bride's son even asked me to make a carrot cake for his birthday next month. So it all worked out!


These pictures from the wedding should tell you that the carrot cakes were hardly a blip on the radar. It was a beautiful weekend. It was a wedding that made me realize these are the moments we will look back on when we are old, the stories we will tell. It was a wedding that made me feel more in love with my husband. And how about those outfits? The bride is such an amazing seamstress. She made her dress, the groom's outfit, the officiant's outfit and her kids' outfits too! I get proud when I embellish a kitchen towel and she's designing formal wear. So humbling! And now, I give you the cakes.



Carrot Cake
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
3 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup oat milk (or plain milk I imagine would work fine)
3.5 cups shredded carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts

Frosting
8 oz. package of cream cheese
5 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x12 cake pan with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Mix flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa and spices in a bowl. In a separate large bowl, mix eggs, brown sugar, applesauce, oil and oat milk until well blended. Add shredded carrots to wet ingredients. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients, stirring until mostly combined. Add walnuts and mix just until combined. Don't over mix. Pour into baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack. To make frosting, mix butter and cream cheese until well blended. Add vanilla and lemon juice. Add powdered sugar. Frost cake when cool.


Vegan Carrot Cake
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
2 Tbsp egg replacer
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
3/4 cup oat milk (or rice or soy milk)
3.5 cups shredded carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts

Frosting
8 oz. container Tofutti "better than cream cheese"
5 Tbsp. vegan non-hydrogenated margarine
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x12 cake pan with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Mix flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, egg replacer and spices in a bowl. In a separate large bowl, mix brown sugar, applesauce, oil and oat milk until well blended. Add shredded carrots to wet ingredients. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients, stirring until mostly combined. Add walnuts and mix just until combined. Don't over mix. Pour into baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack. To make frosting, mix margarine and cream cheese until well blended. Add vanilla. Add powdered sugar. Frost cake when cool.

13 comments:

ms lottie said...

I'm in awe of that dress! And thanks so much for that recipe. The last carrot cake I made was fluffy and light too, just not a true carrot cake as I think of them.

grendelskin said...

What a resounding success! You successfully tested and recreated your own recipe not once but twice! What a fabulous wedding it must have been, looks like such a blast. I have friends who who say they are in awe because I quilt and I feel like a fraud; I mostly do just straight lines, and they do darts! And collars! And sleeves!

Sandy said...

I've been under the weather again, so not commenting always-but reading always! I love your site ;)

Barbara said...

What an awesome wedding - as an old grey hair, the photos really make me misty, thinking back to my youth when we did things the creative and fun way - wunderful photos and thank you for sharing this great event

Mama Pea said...

Amazing! Thanks for the vegan recipe, too. I have vegan friends and never know what to make for them. I am a total meat eater!

Suzanne said...

Who knew unpeeled carrots would sprout green? I REALLY like the Cypress Carrot Cake recipe from Diet for a Small Planet. It does have crushed pineapple in it but no raisins. I was confused about the no fruit stipulation because you did use the applesauce. You may want to check it out as an alternative for another time. All this talk about carrot cake...I may have to make some ASAP.

Barb H said...

This wedding looks like it was absolutely wonderful! Who would have thought of an orange wedding dress? It's just beautiful, especially with the purple groom's outfit. They both look soooo happy in these pix. And the cake was wonderful as well. Thanks for sharing. PS Carrot cake is health food for nursing moms, right?

Merry Made Quilts said...

I would have laughed if someone suggested an orange wedding dress, but that thing is freakin gorgeous!!

Linda said...

How sweet of you to post pictures of the wedding and your cake recipes. I really enjoy seeing the wedding. What kind of flowers are those on the cakes - they are so pretty.

Zonnah said...

That looks like it was one beautiful wedding!!!

Fat Chick Design said...

I love carrot cake, so glad that you did all the hard work tasting to get the best!
The dress is just as stunning in full and the venue looked lovely, very personal, exactly as it should be :)
I have a fab recipe for a chocolate beetroot cake that is similar to cake cake, I will pass it on if you like :)

MissMary said...

WOO HOO!!! FIRE POI!!!

Helen in the UK said...

Clearly a very individual couple who chose to have a lot of fun with their wedding. Those outfits are FANTASTIC!! Your cake looked absolutely yummy too and beautifully done. I enjoyed reading about your journey towards the pefect recipie :)

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