Friday, February 27, 2009


I adore carrot cake but it has so many calories and so much fat, that when I started working on Light Jewish Holiday Desserts, I knew it would have to have a place in the Rosh Hashanah section where carrots are an important ingredient. I worked that recipe to death and came up with a wonderful, light version of carrot cake, but one that needed to be made a day ahead for best flavor. Having become less concerned about fat over the years, I thought I might alter the recipe to have a little more fat, but still less than a traditional carrot bundt. I made the cake, poured on a light cream cheese glaze and set the cake in the refrigerator to serve for my birthday, later that evening. When we returned from dinner I took the cake from the refrigerator to let it soften for 15 minutes and then served it to my guests. It was so disappointing. The texture and flavor were not what I was looking for. I put it back in the refrigerator to mellow for another day. Low and behold! Just like the very low fat version, this cake with double the amount of fat, also needed a day to mellow, and on the second-fourth days it got better and better. You can choose which version you prefer. Each version makes a dense, chunky cake, with a texture quite different from layered carrot cake (coming another day…). Without the glaze, this version has 1/10 the fat in a standard carrot layered cake, and the one with more fat has 3/4 the fat.

Makes 16 to 20 servings

1-1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and trimmed

1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour, lightly sprinkled into a measuring cup *
2/3 cup (70 grams) sifted cake flour, lightly sprinkled into a measuring cup*
1- 3/4 cups (210 grams) whole wheat pastry flour, lightly sprinkled into a measuring cup*
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, or combine 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons water
2 cups firmly packed light or dark brown sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature
8-ounce can crushed pineapple in its own juice
1-1/2 pounds carrots
Powdered sugar (optional)

Cream Cheese Glaze, optional (see recipe )
or powdered sugar

* you must measure the flour this way or you will end up with too much flour. For example, 1 cup of all-purpose flour measured using fluff, scoop and level, will have 130 grams - a little more than 1 tablespoon of flour more.

Preheat the oven to 325°F, with a rack in the middle of the oven.
Spray-grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube (Bundt) pan.

Grate the carrots, using the food processor grating disk, or a box grater.

If using the processor, pulse-process the grated carrots with the metal blade until they are finely chopped, like the left side of the picture above. Measure out 3 cups of carrots, and discard any extra.

Sift together all three flours, spices, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the raisins and nuts. Set aside.

Place the oil, water, and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed. Beat in the egg until well blended. On low, beat in the pineapple with its juice, and the carrots.
On low, or by hand, beat in the flour mixture in 3 additions, mixing just until the flour is incorporated. The batter will be fairly thick.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out with no moist crumbs attached. Remove the cake to a rack and cool completely. Loosen the edges of the bundt (I like to use a wooden coffee-stirrer as it won't scratch my nonstick pans).

Invert the cake onto a serving platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar. If glazing with the Cream Cheese glaze, you'll need to set the cake onto a rack over a pan (see directions with glaze).

Variation: If you'd like a slightly moister cake or one without whole wheat, use 3-1/3 cups (433 grams) all-purpose flour (lightly spooned into measuring cups). Increase the oil to 1/2 cup , delete the water and add another 1 or 2 eggs.

The cake must be made at least 1 day ahead, but can be made 2 days in advance. Wrap in foil and store at room temperature. May also be frozen for up to 3 months.

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