food: carrot cake

my darling husband has been working out of town and as a loving wife, it’s the least I can do to send him with care packages.
generally he’ll head out with stews, soups & sauces for dinners and I like to send something sweet as well… things like banana breads, cakes and loaves are perfect to remind him of home and also to share with coworkers.

he works with fellas predominately from India and some French Canadians as well. so mealtime is often a cultural exchange of sorts. it’s been great. he’s learned the secrets of making naan by hand and raised his tolerance for heat another couple notches. as well as sampled Quebec delights like cretonnade de veau and all manner of stinky cheeses.
often he’ll bring me home a portion of leftovers of a particularly successful meal like a fiery goat curry with rice.

one of my husband’s favorite baked treats is the carrot cake. I love a good carrot cake, but I’ve been disappointed may so many that I’m leery of them when purchased. I don’t like raisins and nuts snuck into it… the icing has to be sweet, but more cream cheesy than cloying… I’m picky.
through my Internet hunts, I’ve found what I believe is the best carrot cake recipe around. and I’m not the only one that feels that way. it’s from Canadian Living magazine and it reigns as their most requested recipe of all time.

Canadian Living Best Carrot Cake Recipe

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
2 tsp (10 mL) cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) nutmeg
3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (175 mL) packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup (175 mL) vegetable oil
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
2 cups (500 mL) grated carrots
1 cup (250 mL) drained crushed canned pineapple
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped pecans

1 8 oz (250g) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter, softened
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
1 cup (250 mL) icing sugar

Grease and flour 13- x 9-inch (3.5 L) metal cake pan; set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In separate bowl, beat together granulated and brown sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla until smooth; pour over flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Stir in carrots, pineapple and pecans. Spread in prepared pan.

Bake in centre of 350°F (180°C) oven for 40 minutes or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack.

Icing: In bowl, beat cream cheese with butter until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Beat in icing sugar, one-third at a time, until smooth. Spread over top of cake.


so because I’m difficult, I wanted to try experimenting a little with this recipe. but I also knew it was tried and true, and my husband loved the original and wasn’t always so hot on my desire to “healthy everything up”. so I did what any rational person would do… I made two carrot cakes. one totally to the recipe (except that I cut the oil down to a 1/2 cup and use coconut instead of vegetable) and the other recipe was mostly the same wish a couple tweaks.

I wanted to work in some of my carrot and beet pulp from my juicer, but soon realized that the pulp is so dry and what makes the carrots in the carrot cake really work is the juiciness of the grated vegetables. so I used the pulp (about 2.5 cups loosely packed) but rehydrated it with some of the drained pineapple juice and about a cup of carrot juice.
I also puréed a bit of the pineapple for a smoother texture, which really worked because the carrot pulp was much finer than the grated carrot in the traditional cake. in fact, it essentially disappeared in terms of texture and just gave you the carrot taste. the beets were totally undetectable except for the lovely pinky color.

again, I also hacked the oil down, which was totally fine. my results were delicious. a very dense, very moist and very carrot-y cake was the result. I also used a bunt pan since my cake pan was used for the traditional cake, but all I had to do was bake it for an extra 15 minutes.




1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. anormalday
    Feb 13, 2013 @ 15:48:30

    Bragging moment: Carrot Cake 2 was AMAZING.


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