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Carrot Cake, a.k.a. OMG I’ve Grown Up Cake

Alex and I got carried away buying produce last weekend. Okay, maybe it was just me.

Saturday at the Market
$60 bought us all these! There’s hidden zucchini in the back and everything!

The thing is, living in the arctic circle where winter lasts six months of the year and snow is the biggest bitch you’ve met in your life, I get a little (just a little) excited when summer comes and fresh produce is in plain sight. The Farmer’s Market at St. Lawrence every Saturday makes me happy, even if I have to get my elbows out just to walk through the half block of produce stalls along Jarvis Street. So this past weekend I was all “Wow! Yay! Love! Yum!” as I flitted from stall to stall, piling all these things (plus some meats and carbs and stuff) into the bags Alex was carrying. Oh yeah, he carried them all – but don’t feel sorry for him, he gets to eat all this stuff.

One thing I was thinking about making with all this stuff shocked me….for the first time in my life, carrot cake piqued my interest. I have long scoffed at the thought of “vegetables in my dessert”, but with all these pretty carrots with their cute little green tops, how could I say no? When I read that the original idea of carrot cake was to use carrots as a sweetener, I was even more intrigued. What a healthy dessert!

Pineapples in Carrot CakeCream Cheese Icing - Carrot Cake

The cream cheese icing that goes with carrot cake might also have something to do with my interest. It’s dairy, and has cheese, and therefore has calcium! How much healthier can I get? :P

(Recipe edited in 2012 to include extra amazing-ness. You’re welcome.)

You will need:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (80g) packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (170g) vegetable oil – I use canola or rapeseed
  • 1/4 cup (57g) extra virgin coconut oil – really adds to the taste!!
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (140g) self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder – no-aluminum baking powder is best!
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts – hazelnuts and walnuts are both good choices
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce (or fruit puree of your choice) – apple sauce is mild and doesn’t take away from the taste. Originally I used chopped pineapple chunks – those are good too.

Putting it together

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour 2 round or square pans, and line bottoms with parchment paper. I used 8″ square pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the dry ingredients together.
  3. In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer, whip eggs together for about a minute until light yellow in colour. Add in sugar and continue beating for 3-4 minutes until thick and creamy looking.
  4. With the mixer still going, stream in the vegetable oil, and the vanilla extract.
  5. Scrape down bowl and add in half of the dry ingredients. Use a low speed to incorporate everything together. Scrape down again, and add in the second half of the dry ingredients. Use low speed to incorporate again.
  6. Fold in the carrots along with any juice that the carrots might’ve left behind from the grating – it’s a thick mixture, so make sure you stir enough to distribute the carrots evenly. Now fold in the nuts and fruit puree/apple sauce.
  7. Distribute mixture into the two pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Let cool on rack while you move on to the next step – the icing!

The Best Cream Cheese Icing

I got this off the back of a baking mix once and when I gave people the cupcakes that went with this icing, all I got was, “Oh my goodness the icing!” and a bunch of rude noises. I gathered it must be the best cream cheese icing then, and haven’t deviated from it since.

The magical ingredients

  • 8 oz. package of cream cheese, slightly colder than room temperature
  • 4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, more or less room temperature but not too mushy
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. sifted icing sugar

Whip your icing
In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together with the salt and vanilla on a lower speed until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the icing sugar slowly and on a low speed just until combined. If you whip on high or whip too long, it’ll become airy and light. If you would like a thick and creamy icing, do not overmix. Voila!

Finished product

Ice the cake according to your mood. I typically opt for fussy and overachieving, but in this case I decided it was charming to do homemade with sprinkles to hide the flaws. Totally didn’t help that the icing didn’t yield quite enough to smother the cake, so it wasn’t easy to work with. Whatever, it’s not some perfectionist wedding cake, after all.

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