Today is Easter (in case you didn't know), and while my family is not religious in the slightest, we will take any excuse to get together and eat a lot of food any time. Easter is no exception. My contribution to the meal today is this fun and delicious (and reminiscent of bunny images, therefore holiday appropriate, in my opinion) carrot cake. I found a yummy sounding recipe on the Pioneer Woman's recipe sharing site, Tasty Kitchen, and tweaked it to be slightly more nutritious.
Next time I will tweak it even further, I think, cutting the oil in half and substituting applesauce for the remainder. Still, you'd never know this was a whole wheat cake with (relatively) low fat frosting! It has the delicious spices you expect from a carrot cake, the moisture and extra sweetness thanks to the carrots, and a load of personality.
I chose to make this cake as an 8" square layer cake just for something a bit different, but you can also make it a round one, or bake it in a 13 x 9 rectangular baker. And a note: I found that the cake sagged a bit in the middle, which is something I'll work on correcting in the future - it was easily fixed with extra frosting in the middle!
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from ginabe's Tasty Kitchen recipe
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups grated carrot (about four carrots)
8 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese (neufchatel), room temp
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
handful chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray two round or square cake pans, or a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray.
2. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or by hand in a large bowl) combine sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
3. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until just combined. Stir in the carrot.
4. Pour the batter into the baking pan(s). The pans should only be about half full (the cake will rise significantly). Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about half an hour, then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
5. Make the frosting: beat together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Frost the cake (if doing two layers, there will be enough for the middle and the top). Sprinkle with pecans.