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healthy & hearty carrot cake with yogurt icing

October 12, 2012

carrot cake with yogurt icing

You can’t really go wrong with carrot cake! There are few people who wouldn’t eagerly dig in to a slice of hearty carrot cake, topped with cream cheese icing. It is an awfully simple cake, and a fantastic way to use up those soggy looking carrots in the bottom of the vege drawer.

Sadly I have had my fair share of dry, under-carroted cakes. You know – more like a vanilla cake with a few barely recognisable carrot flecks. I can’t help but feel a carrot cake should be so bursting with the vegetable that it takes on a strong orange tinge, loaded with dried fruit and nuts, and so moist that it keeps for days, improving with age as the flavors infuse and the moisture increases.

sliced and full of goods

I think I got that from my Mum – we like our baked goods fruity, filling and full of goodness.

A little research, a little practice, a jotting down of ingredients as I created a darn mess tidily bustled around the kitchen, and I think I got the perfect carrot cake. Not too sweet and not too heavy. An array of flavors from the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, sweetness from the dried cranberries and honey, moisture from the applesauce and carrots. I topped mine with yogurt (left to strain while the cake was in the oven) combined with a dash of maple syrup and vanilla seeds, and sprinkled with some omega 3 rich walnuts, lightly toasted in a pan to enhance their nuttiness.

carrot cake with yogurt and walnuts

Healthy & Hearty Carrot Cake
Recipe loosely based on The Healthy Chef and The Healthy Foodie (ha – and to think I wasn’t even searching out a ‘healthy’ carrot cake)

EDIT: I remembered afterwards that I had snuck some pineapple into mine without writing it down – 3 rings of canned pineapple slices, pureed in food processor. 1/3 of a cup of crushed pineapple would work too. Once again, this adds to the sweetness and the moisture, with little tropical hits throughout the slice!

1 cup almond flour
1 cup oats
1 cup wholewheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp grated fresh ginger*
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1/2 cup walnuts (plus extra for garnishing)

3 large carrots, grated
1/3 pineapple puree, or crushed pineapple
2/3 cup egg whites (or 3 eggs)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat your oven to 160 C.
Combine in one bowl all of the dry ingredients, and in the other, the wet.
Mix together until combined (if a little dry, add some more applesauce but it will be thick and lumpy).
Pour (or rather plop) into a prepared 20 cm baking tin (a ring tin will ensure faster cooking time).
Bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until cooked through (a non-ring-cake tin may take longer and the top may need to be covered with foil for the last 15 minutes or so).
Remove from the oven and cool completely in the tin then turn out onto wire rack.
Top with yogurt ‘icing’ (recipe below) and sprinkle with toasted walnuts.
Keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days – it freezes well too!

To make yogurt icing:
1 cup yogurt
1/4 vanilla pod, scraped (or 1/2 tsp pure vanilla bean paste)
1 tbsp maple syrup

Drain yogurt in muslin cloth until thickened (about 1 hr) – I used a coffee filter placed over a sieve which worked a treat. Once liquid has been drained (and discarded), beat in maple syrup and vanilla seeds. Leave in fridge to thicken before spreading over cake.

* Whole fresh ginger freezes really well. I like to peel a huge knob of ginger to store in the freezer. It can be grated from frozen and added directly to baking or meals.

carrot cake minus one chunky slice

As you can see the lighting it becoming somewhat of an issue. It is pitch black when I leave for work, and a long low sunset from the time I arrive home at 5pm. Of course, taking photos after dinner is a problem in most parts of the world during winter – I’m just well aware that within a few months it will be this dull throughout the whole day! I’m totally excited for it – I just don’t know what that will do to my baking, photographing and blogging.

I have been experimenting with setting up scenes in total darkness and using a long shutter speed to capture ambient light for the shot, as well as using only the soft light from a nearby lamp (which brings the shadow issue). There is a lot of research still to be done on setting up studio lighting. I would love any suggestions on good studio lights.

Tell me, how do you capture photos when the sun starts setting? What is your preferred source of light after darkness falls?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 13, 2012 12:58 pm

    What a truly exceptional looking cake! I LOVE the shots!

  2. October 13, 2012 5:10 pm

    Great photos, Christina! Love the deep color of the table behind. Were the photos taken in the evening using an external light source? The lighting is just gorgeous.

    • October 13, 2012 5:30 pm

      Really? Oh golly I was really unsure about them because of the dullness and the shadows! Thanks Mel! It was a dark evening, with the room only faintly lit by a small lamp (our living room has no overhead lights!). These are taken on a tripod with a pretty slow shutter speed just a short distance from the lamp so as to not get the glare, but enough light instead. This is how they’re going to have to be done for a while, so I’m glad they’re not too bad!

  3. October 14, 2012 9:36 pm

    The cake looks great (I love the sound of the yogurt icing) and the pictures look atmospheric and moody… very autumnal with the long shadows. I do the frozen ginger trick too – so handy!

  4. Eccles permalink
    May 25, 2013 7:07 pm

    Thanks for the tip (draining the yoghurt)! The shots are beautiful – the lighting gives it a nice rustic feel.

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