Thursday, April 19, 2007

Vegan Carrot Cake

From Uprisings: The Whole Grain Bakers' Book
(with slight adjustments by me)

Makes one 10 inch pan

Combine in one bowl:
1/2 cup vegetable oil (Safflower is good for high heat / baking)
1/2 cup applesauce
3 cups grated carrots
1 tbl vanilla
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup flax seed mixture
(1 part freshly ground flax seeds:3 parts water. 1/4 cup of this mixture generally replaces one egg.)

Combine in another bowl:
4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbl cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder

Stir both mixtures together. Pour into an oiled pan (i usually rub on oil, then shake flour to coat all the sides... it's reliably nonstick.) Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until center is firm.


I really wanted to try this recipe from the class baking book. It's a cute book, put out by a whole grain bakers' collective, with contributions from lots of member bakeries. All the recipes are written out by hand. I liked the sound of how simple this was (it was even simpler before I tinkered a bit!) and thought carrots, honey, and flax would ensure a moist vegan cake.

Verdict: The taste was spot on. (The only thing I would add is lemon zest, but i wanted to try without.) April and I have been happily eating it up. It's certainly been the most satisfying breakfast I've had in a while. However, I'm not totally happy with flax as an egg substitute. It's a great binder, but won't help it rise. So the texture of this cake was a bit too thick and gluey. (It probably didn't help that I didn't have a good cake pan, and used a loaf pan instead.) All the reviews of vegan baking I've read say commercial egg substitutes make for a lighter cake than flax. But that's not the point! I don't really need a vegan cake, and if I have to use a weird processed food to make it right, I'd rather just use the nice local, free range eggs I have. BUT, I will try again, maybe in muffin tins, with less flax, and more baking powder.

Lemon cream cheese: Like I said, I was missing the lemon zest. So I made a really quick lemon topping. I squeezed and zested a lemon and heated that with a little agave nectar. Then I mixed it with organic cream cheese (again with the not vegan... I'm trying to cut back a bit on dairy, but fermented dairy like yogurt and cream cheese are really good for you). And there you have it! None of this cream cheese frosting with added butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar. It won't set up like a real frosting would, but it's perfect to spread on a slice at a time.

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