Thursday, January 15, 2009
You might have noticed that I haven't posted many cake recipes on my blog, save a few cupcakes and a pumpkin cheescake I made over Thanksgiving.
Well, the reason's not because I don't like cakes: I do, in fact a little too much. There was a time years ago, when I was still in grad school and my favorite show on public television was one where Debbi Fields, the woman who owns Mrs. Fields' Cookies, would bake all sorts of yummy cakes and other goodies.
At the time I was new to the United States and also a new baker. And the cakes I'd had in India (always store-bought) were usually white slabs with thick, hard, sugary icing on top in all kinds of psychedelic colors that tasted very sweet but nothing else. In fact, even in the mid '90s, when I left Bombay, the only passably decent cake one could buy was a heart-shaped chocolate cake at a store named Croissants opposite Churchgate station. Of course, things have changed dramatically since and now the easier availability of ingredients, equipment and know-how means even home bakers can turn out amazing great baked goods.
So fascinated was I with baking when I first moved here that on the days when I didn't have any classes I'd get up in the morning all excited about the idea of plonking myself in front of the television and learning something new from Debbie Fields that I could then replicate in my kitchen.
Many cakes and several inches on both our waistlines later, Desi told me it was time I got rid of my addiction to cake-baking. Now although I try not to listen to anything he tells me to do, it was I that had the lion's share of the extra inches. So I tried to cut down my cake-making by quite a bit, limiting myself mostly to cupcakes where it is easier to control portion size.
Of course, if there was any potential to include a healthy ingredient in the cake, the baking gloves would go right back on. As with banana nut bread, or pumpkin bread. And, of course, carrot cake.
With an unbelievably moist texture, that rich-sweet carrot flavor and topped with a cream-cheese icing, the mighty carrot cake is easy to love. And the fact that it has plenty of carrots in it makes it an easy sell to even conscientious dieters.
I make my carrot cake even healthier by using in it only unrefined ingredients: whole-wheat pastry flour and turbinado sugar. Then there are the carrots, the walnuts and the applesauce: yummy goodness all around.
The cherries on top of the cake have nothing to do, by the way, with what's in it. I just needed some color on the cake, and they were around, so on they went in the interests of making a pretty picture.
Here's the recipe. Enjoy, everyone!
I-Can't-Believe-It's-Healthy Carrot Cake
Sift into a bowl:
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups turbinado sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
In another bowl mix together:
1 cup canola oil
2 cups applesauce
2 cups grated carrots
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Add the flour mixture to the oil-applesauce-carrot mixture, stirring to blend evenly.
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted, then coarsely chopped.
Grease and flour 2 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper, if posibble because this makes it far easier to unmold the cake. Oil the parchment paper as well.
Now divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Place the cake pans on a rack for 15 minutes. Then unmold the cakes gently and allow them to cool thoroughly on the rack.
For the cream cheese icing:
Beat together until smooth:
1 cup vegan cream cheese like Tofutti
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Place one of the cooled cakes on a cake stand or plate. Smear the top with some icing.
Carefully place the other cake on top of the first one. Cover the cake with the remaining icing using a spatula.