07 April 2011

A ninja among cakes

Shhhh. Don't tell anyone, but . . . this cake is good for you.

And as Jamie Oliver would say, it's dead easy. You would never know, though. Looking at the ingredient list, you might think the cake would be dry or undersweetened. Not so-- not even close. Its crumb is moist and tender. The bright, fresh flavors of carrot and apple do not need to battle cups upon cups of sugar. They have plenty of natural sweetness of their own. And the cake is beautiful. Color! Texture! Aroma! Dig in.

This is honestly the best carrot cake I've ever eaten, and I have eaten a lot of carrot cake. It is also my mom's preferred recipe, and carrot cake is her very favorite. Almost every other carrot cake we try makes our teeth hurt with sugar overload, or tastes more like a spice cake with a hint of carrot. Not this one.

It's sneaky.

Now, the recipe.

Fantastic Carrot Cake
(originally from Whole Foods for the Whole Family, and I haven't altered it much)

2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup oil*
4 eggs, beaten with fork
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup shredded apple or drained crushed pineapple
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 350 and lightly spray two 9-inch cake pans, or one 9x13 pan.
2) Whisk together dry ingredients. Pour in honey, oil, and eggs; beat thoroughly, making sure that no dry streaks are left on the bottom of the bowl. (I use my Kitchen-Aid but you can easily do it by hand.) Stir in carrots, apple, and walnuts.
3) Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until cakes test done.**
4) Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes, then run a knife around edges and flip cakes out onto wire rack. (This may require some tapping or, horrors, even smacking of the cake pan. It's okay. I actually had to lift mine an inch above the rack and drop them in order to dislodge the cake. No harm done.) Flip them over again so they can cool right-side-up; this is where multiple racks come in handy. Or a plate. Either way, let cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
lemon juice
vanilla extract
powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. For the rest, you need to use your own judgment. Add 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and a teaspoon of vanilla. Beat it well and taste. Does it need more sugar? More lemon juice or vanilla? Adjust, beat, and taste again. (See, this is the fun part of cooking. You have an excuse to eat extra cream cheese frosting.)


*I used a combination of melted coconut oil and olive oil. My mom just uses olive oil. You can use whatever you'd like, but do keep in mind that certain oils-- soybean, vegetable, and corn among them-- are highly processed, high in omega-6 fatty acids, and really not healthy.
**If you aren't sure what that means, get yourself a toothpick. Stick it into the middle of the cake. Remove. Are there streaks of uncooked batter or mushy crumbs sticking to it? Five more minutes.

{image credit: izzysmama on Flickr}


  1. You seriously have some of the best recipes in the world. That chocolate cake of yours that I made for a party? I could hardly stop eating it. If you made a recipe book I would buy 50 copies. Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration. I would buy 10.

  2. Yay-- my next project after the adult's remedial grammar guide. ;-)