I am now on Day 4 of my juice fast and really starting to feel hungry. Luckily not particularly weak, just…starving. So as I diligently sip away at my green, red, and other color-coded juices, I have been daydreaming all day about more decadent foods. Just because my tummy can’t eat doesn’t mean my eyes can’t feast on yummy photos! I was browsing through the photos on my phone and came across this one (above) of a carrot cake I made a few weeks ago (and please excuse the shoddy photo quality…the photo was taken in the era before I owned an SLR). I have always thought of carrot cake as a pretty fall/wintery dessert, probably because spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are wintery aromas, but I recently discovered the perfect way to make it summer-appropriate. Adding a little bit of finely chopped fresh pineapple to the cake batter, and a bit of freshly grated lemon zest to the cream cheese frosting adds a ton of freshness to a traditionally heavy and decadent cake, and turns it into a perfect spring/summer dessert. I also tried to find ways to make it a little bit healthier, such as using canola oil in the batter, low-fat cream cheese in the frosting, and minimizing the amount of butter in the frosting than the original recipe. Next time I make it I think I might explore using honey in the batter instead of sugar. Yummy!
For the cake, you will need:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups grated fresh carrots
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
- 1 cup walnut pieces
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 cups canola oil
- 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream or unsalted Greek yoghurt
For the cream cheese frosting:
- Approx 1 pound low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- Up to 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and at room temperature
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple
Preheat oven to 175C/350 F. Butter 2 20cm/8-inch round pans before lining them with buttered parchment paper and dusting with flour.
Sift 1 1/2 cups of the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. In separate bowl, toss together the carrots, 1/2 cup pineapple, walnuts, and remaining 1/2 cup of the flour and set aside.
In a third bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with an electric hand mixer for 5-7 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick and fluffy. With the mixer still on, gradually add the oil then the sour cream.
Scatter the flour mixture over the wet ingredients in 2 batches, each time gently folding together until just combined. Next fold in the carrot, pineapple, and nut mixture. Pour into pans and bake the cakes until firm to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes. Allow cakes to cool in pans for 30 minutes, then turn out of pans and let cool completely on a cooling rack.
To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese in a bowl until light, smooth, and fluffy. Add the butter pieces bit by bit until mixture becomes stiff. There is no need to use all the butter if you reach the stiff-peaks stage before you have used the whole amount. Sift the sugar over the mixture in 2-3 batches, and beat with mixer until smooth, then beat in lemon zest and vanilla extract until combined. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.
Before serving, place one of the cakes on a cake stand, and spread half the frosting on it. Top with second cake layer and another layer of frosting, and then scatter remaining 1 cup of pineapple on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
In good health,