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April 24, 2013

Vegan Carrot Cake

by Anne Paddock

For years, I relied on a carrot cake recipe from the The Silver Palate Cookbook, which was THE cookbook of the 1980’s. Full of carrots, pineapple, coconut, and walnuts, the Silver Palate carrot cake was my ideal of what a carrot cake should be:  moist, sweet, rich, and mile-high. But, as I’ve gotten older, I’m less inclined to put 3 cups of sugar and a cup and a half of corn oil in a cake recipe; and with a vegan daughter, dairy and eggs are not optional ingredients.

There are numerous recipes for carrot cake so I started experimenting by adjusting ingredients and changing quantities which resulted in the first half-dozen carrot cakes promptly allocated to the trash bin but with each failed cake, I learned a lesson:  sometimes less is more; better to have a less sweet than a too sweet cake, and to borrow from that old World War II phrase: Keep Calm and Carry On. The problem with most of the experimental cakes was that they were more like a dense carrot bread or a carrot loaf and I wanted a light but moist carrot cake without the eggs, butter or hefty amounts of oil called for in a standard recipe.

DSC_0333Light airy cakes usually require eggs but with baking powder, baking soda, spelt flour and an egg replacer that is made primarily from soy flour (Bob’s Red Mill), a cake-like texture can be obtained.  No one was happier than me when one of my dairy-free “chemistry experiments” resulted in a moist and flavorful carrot cake that measured three inches high. With a mild carrot flavor enhanced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, this Vegan Carrot Cake is delicious and easy to make (15 minutes to put the ingredients together).
DSC_0319Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups of spelt flour (I use Daisy brand)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer*
1 cup of light brown sugar
1  cup of plain water (or coconut water if a coconut flavor is desired)
1/2 cup of Smart Balance oil
12  ounces (6 medium or approximately 2 cups) of peeled, grated carrots
Snow White Non-Melting Sugar (I use King Arthur) or powdered sugar

*Widely available at stores that carry Bob’s Red Mill Products, Health Food Stores, and on-line at www.amazon.com and www.soap.com

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Pour 1 teaspoon of Smart Balance oil into an 8 by 8 or round non-stick round or square pan ( I prefer the 8 inch round Fat Daddy anodized aluminum pan which is available through Amazon for about $10), using your hands to completely coat the pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper (place over the oiled bottom) making sure the parchment paper doesn’t go up the sides.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, blend the water and egg replacer. Add the light brown sugar and mix for 1 minute until blended.
  • Add the oil and mix until well blended, about 1 minute.
  • Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture, 1/3 at a time and mix just until well blended (the batter will be thick).
  • Stir in the carrots and blend thoroughly.
  • Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
  • Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then invert onto a plate. Remove the parchment paper. Invert again.
  • Before serving, sift the confectionary sugar over the top. Serves 8-12 people.

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