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Crazy for Carrot Cake

When I was about ten years old, my parents let me grow my own little vegetable garden in the back yard. I tended it carefully everyday and managed to grow a few rows of beautiful tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots. The memory of those perfect vegetables I grew as a child is what made this year’s dismal crop even more frustrating.

As expected, the deer ate the lettuce (although we managed to pick a little for ourselves first). What we didn’t expect, was that the deer also ate the tomato plants — they’d never done that before. The cucumber plants produced only enough small cukes to put up two jars of pickles. And the carrots. I didn’t even want to plant carrots this year because I wanted to save room for pricier produce such as arugula which if I didn’t grow it myself, I’d never spend the money on. But Jon wanted homegrown carrots for a carrot cake which he informed me was now a “tradition” since I baked him a cake using our own carrots for two years running.

Trouble is, for all the planting, weeding, and watering, once we dug up the carrots, washed them off, and trimmed them, they were so small this year that there was just enough to make the carrot cake — no more, no less. Jon ate a piece of the cake before we could take the photo, and it really is tasty — moist and delicious with a creamy frosting. And, as it turns out, is well worth growing just enough carrots for.

The recipe is from my latest book, 1,000 Vegan Recipes, which comes out on October 5. The book is available now for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders.

Crazy for Carrot Cake
This carrot cake is moist and flavorful without being cloyingly sweet, with sweet bits of carrot and cloaked in a luscious, creamy frosting. And what a decadent way to get your beta-carotene for the day. For a bit of crunch, add 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts. For an even richer “carrot” color, substitute carrot juice for all or part of the soy milk. This recipe is from 1,000 Vegan Recipes published by John Wiley & Sons.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plain or vanilla soy milk
1/2 cup canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups finely shredded carrots
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
1 recipe “Cream Cheese” Frosting (recipe follows)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt.
3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, soy milk, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla, then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir in the carrots and raisins, if using, until just mixed.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
5. Let the cake cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. When completely cool, frost the cake with the cream cheese frosting.

“Cream Cheese” Frosting
This frosting is famous for being the crowning glory of carrot cake, but I also like it great on my Banana-Walnut Cake and Spice Cake with Mango and Lime from 1,000 Vegan Recipes.

1 (8-ounce) container vegan cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons vegan margarine
2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and margarine together with an electric mixer on high speed until well blended.
2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, then beat until light and fluffy. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Elaine September 16, 2009, 1:56 am

    This looks delicious. I love your cookbooks and am happy to learn there are only three weeks left to wait until this one! Any book signings in Virginia?

  • Karla September 16, 2009, 7:49 am

    That looks so yummy, my mouth is watering. You're not alone with the carrots this year. Everyone I know ended up with stubby carrots. :)

  • Robin at Vegan Planet September 16, 2009, 1:29 pm

    Elaine: Thanks! Nothing scheduled in VA as yet – I'll keep you posted.

    Karla: Nice to know I'm not the only one with stubby carrots — the good news is: they still make great carrot cakes!

  • Anna September 16, 2009, 11:41 pm

    This looks so good. By the way, right now I'm eating gazpacho made from heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers from the farmers market using one of your recipes, Robin. It is so good I kind of want to cry. It has me singing Mary Poppins songs… seriously, for the first time ever, since I tried out your recipe, I love gazpacho. (I'm using the green zebra tomatoes and yellow pepper so it is a lovely pale yellow/green color. I wanted to take a photo but could not wait the few instants that would have taken.)

  • Robin at Vegan Planet September 16, 2009, 11:53 pm

    Hi Anna — I must say, the gazpacho-Mary Poppins connection has me a little puzzled, but I'm so glad to know you're enjoying the gazpacho — it really does sound lovely with the zebra tomatoes and yellow pepper. Yum.

  • VeganLinda September 23, 2009, 1:42 pm

    Yum! Our garden didn't do as well this year as past years either. We didn't get ANY carrots, sadly. The squirrels have been eating everything and I'm not sure what to do about them. I did get some carrots in my CSA share and I might just have to make a cake!

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