The Perfect Carrot Cake (Carb Diva Style)
Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."— Jim Davis ('Garfield' creator and cartoonist)
Today is my birthday. I won't say how many years, but suffice it to say I was alive during the Eisenhower administration. Of course, a birthday requires the baking of a birthday cake. Today is also National Carrot Cake Day, the day on which we celebrate a treat that has been around since the Middle Ages. (Hey, it's older than me!) In the Middle Ages, sugar and other sweeteners were rare and very expensive, so people used sweet vegetables to flavor their puddings.
According to punchbowl.com, the use of sweet fruits and vegetables in baked goods became obsolete as sugar and honey became less costly, but resurfaced in the 20thcentury. During World War II, the British government rationed many luxury foods and household staples including sugar. To appease the nation’s sweet tooth, the Ministry of Food promoted recipes for carrot puddings, carrot-filled pies, and carrot cakes. Today, many families in the UK still serve carrot cake on Christmas Day!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 cups shredded carrots, raw
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease and flour a 9x13-inch cake pan.
- Sift together the first 6 ingredients (flour through nutmeg) and set aside. Place the sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Mix together with a spoon.
- Add the dry (flour) mixture, and then stir in the carrots, coconut, walnuts, and pineapple.
- Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool and frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.
What makes this recipe work?
- The addition of applesauce serves two purposes--first, it substitutes for some of the cooking oil. And the acid of the apples reacts with the baking soda to provide more lift (leavening) to this dense cake batter.
- Flaked coconut and pineapple provide some natural sweetness.
- Chopped walnuts contribute texture and a satisfying crunch.
Fun facts about carrots
- Carrots originated in Afghanistan and were introduced to Europe about 1,000 years ago. They were purple in color, not orange.
- The weed/flower Queen Ann’s Lace is actually a wild carrot.
- In the 1930's Jello brand gelatine introduced "carrot pie flavored Jello".
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© 2014 Linda Lum