I’ve never been a fan of carrot cake. It may be because it goes against one of my core values, which is not to mix vegetables with dessert. I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure there’s a separate compartment in our bellies for All Things Sweet, and anything healthy in there simply contaminates it.
But then this happened. I met it unexpectedly, and I wasn’t even looking for a relationship, much less looking for love. I’d just been messing around with my mother-in-law’s recipe to make it compliant with our food sensitivities, and BOOM, everything changed. But here we are, together at last.
Not only do these flavors belong together, but they’re (gasp!) full of good things for your body.
Sheesh. Does this mean I need to rethink my core values? It probably does, because darnit, I’m not letting this carrot cake go. It’s a keeper.
Carrot Cake for Everyone (Even for People Who Think They Don’t Like It) Recipe
Heat oven to 300 degrees F. Line two 9-inch round pans with parchment paper. I like pans like these (afflinks). I prefer unbleached paper for health reasons.
You’ll need two relatively big mixing bowls and one small one (a regular cereal bowl is more than enough for the latter).
Before you do anything else, make two flax eggs (healthy already, I say!). If you’re already giving me the side-eye, you’re welcome to use regular eggs instead of eggs made from flaxseed. Or one flax egg and one regular. You have options here. Regular eggs (or one of each) make the cake less crumbly than the flax eggs alone do, but I don’t mind crumbly, personally.
To make flax eggs, all you need is two tablespoons of flaxseed. Put them in the small bowl. If you’re going the flaxseed instead of egg route, add six tablespoons of water to the flaxseeds. No need to mix; just let the flaxseed absorb the water while you move forward through the other steps. Note: if you use flax eggs instead of traditional eggs, your recipe is vegan!
I prefer to use a glass mixing-measuring bowl combination like this one so the boiling water doesn’t affect the plastic, and also to spare me washing extra dishes.
- 2 cups date sugar (so much healthier than regular white sugar, it’s made from only dates!) Note: this will make your cake look brown, like chocolate. It’s just dark from the date sugar. Normal. Deliciously normal.
- 3/4 cup safflower oil (or another neutral oil, but I like the general health profile and high heat tolerance of safflower).
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 3 or 4 cups shredded carrots depending how much you like carrots (a food processor works great for this; I use one like this). For what it’s worth, my 5-year-old dislikes carrots but loves this cake.
Mix all this goodness together. I mix along the way to combine the ingredients more evenly.
- 2 eggs or flax eggs will go in this first bowl. If you’re using regular eggs, you can mix them in now. If you’re using flax eggs, I suggest letting them sit and congeal until you’re done with the second bowl of ingredients, below.
Bowl #2. Mix the following ingredients together:
- 2 cups garbanzo bean flour (my preference for the health profile, but regular baking flour would work). Alternatively, we sometimes use other gluten-free flour (although last I checked, this version had some garbanzos in it, too). Both work!
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Now’s the time to mix your flax eggs into the first bowl if you’ve chosen that option.
Combine the contents of the two bowls. Bake for approximately 1 hour if you’ve used regular eggs. Add 10-15 minutes if you’re using flax eggs or a combination of both (the toothpick test will help you know when it’s done). Let the cakes cool in the pans for awhile before transferring them to your cake plate. I use a plate similar to this version because it has a lid to keep the cake fresh.
Cupcake option: same recipe, but use baking cups in a muffin pan (even if it’s nonstick) and cut the baking time approximately in half. Start checking the cupcakes at about 30 minutes. Depending how full you fill the cups, it should make about two dozen.
Dress up the cake however you’d like. We enjoy putting non-dairy (or dairy) yogurt on it instead of frosting since the cake is already pretty sweet, but I don’t want you to judge me too harshly. We may have experimented with chocolate chips in it once or twice, as well, thanks to our daughter’s suggestion.
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