Monday, March 4, 2013

Healthier Carrot Cake

This cake is awesome.  I have made it twice now and think I might have the (sheet cake) recipe perfected.  I may eventually try cupcakes and a full size round cake in the future.
The reason I love this cake is because I’m pretty proud of my skills in the kitchen.  The last few months have been a fun challenge for me, as I’ve tried to make our meals healthier and better for us.  We aren’t doing anything too hardcore, like moving straight into a vegan diet or cutting out sugar or anything like that.  We are just gradually trying to move into eating better, more organic and real food.  In the past when I’ve tried to cut something cold turkey, it doesn’t really stick with me and I give up and feel defeated.  However, with these gradually changes with substituting better and healthier ingredients to cut calories and fat but not compromising taste, it’s been pretty successful!  And I think I’ll be able to keep this up and eventually become a *True Master of the Kitchen*, which is a term I just made up.

My logic to this cake was to make a better, healthier cake so that I could have a more indulgent cream cheese frosting.  There are some things in this world that I can’t say no to and one of them is cream cheese frosting.  I didn’t want to make a ‘skinny’ version of the frosting because I wanted to make sure it tasted good.  I think it’s a fair compromise!

Ok, this recipe.  I can’t even remember where I found this recipe, but here’s the original one that I adapted can be found. It’s not a very involved recipe, but I like making sure that when I bake, everything is done accurately and well.  For this recipe, I substituted unsweetened, natural applesauce for the oil and splenda sweetener for the sugar.  I might try it with a combo of white and whole-wheat flour…we’ll see.

2 c. flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
4 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. unsweetened, natural applesauce
1 c. Splenda sweetener substitute
4 c. grated carrots (I used 1 small bag of pre-grated carrots and chopped them up so they’d be smaller)

1 batch cream cheese frosting:
            ¼ c. unsalted butter (room temperature)
            8 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
            1 tsp. vanilla
            3 c. powdered sugar

1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease a 9 x 13” baking dish.
2.      Whisk together dry ingredients; beat eggs in with vanilla and set both aside.
3.      In a large bowl, beat together the applesauce and splenda in a mixer until they reach a uniform consistency.  With mixer on low, add in 1/3 of the flour.  Beat until incorporated.
4.      Add in 1/3 of the eggs mixture and beat until well incorporated.  Add another 1/3 of the flour, beat.  Add remainder of the eggs and beat well.
5.      Add last of the flour.  Stop mixing once last of the flour is barely incorporated. 
6.      Fold the carrots into the batter with a spatula, until no more dry flour remains and carrots are well mixed in.
7.      Pour batter into greased baking dish and tap against the counter a few times to get any air bubbles out. 
8.      Bake 40 – 45 minutes.  Let cake cool completely before frosting.
9.      For frosting, beat together butter and cream cheese.  Once they are well mixed, add in vanilla and powered sugar, slowly. 
10.  Beat until creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl.