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an oldie but a goodie

Carrot cake is a new indulgence for me. Kind of like discovering a new band or a new author. You start thinking about it, more often than not. Pretty soon, you spend your hours online, researching and brushing up on it’s history. You memorize details that you think you must commit to memory. Before you know it, BAAM! You are hooked.

That’s how I came upon carrot cake. I had my first bite of when I was 15 while I worked at a ritzy senior retirement center. Working as a waitress for these rich senior citizens was very interesting. You learn new things about people everyday. For example, senior citizens are creatures of habit. God forbid you forget to bring out the regular coffee at the same time as you bring out the poppyseed bagels. And those cream cheese tubes? They better be room temperature or else you will get your butt chewed out by an older cranky lady who is wearing too much makeup for a Sunday brunch.

As you can probably tell, my 2 and half years working there was very interesting.

Can I tell you a secret? My senior customers had an insatiable sweet tooth. I mean, INSATIABLE. Worse than me, and I’ve been known to down the sugar. Our brunch started at 7 a.m. and these people would down donuts, sticky buns, even soft serve ICE CREAM! Like I said, these guys could beat me in the sugar consumption race. Obviously, they must have felt invincible but I personally feared for their blood sugar. If it wasn’t a waffle drenched in sugary strawberries, than it was a sugar-laced cocktail at 3 p.m. No wonder they took naps in the middle of the day, their poor blood sugar was like a roller coaster.

I was in charge of the dessert buffet (how fitting, right?) and every morning at 6 am. I’d stumble in to work, and get to slicing the hundreds of frozen cakes and pies. Chocolate cream pies, tiramisu, pineapple upside-down cake, cheesecake. You name it, we had it. And you can be sure that I’d sample a slice or two with my co-workers. Don’t worry, we made sure to hide out in the freezers while hastily devouring our treats…

One cake that I continually stayed away from was the carrot cake. It looked… sick. Literally, disgusting. Oily and studded with coconut (oh, how have the times changed). You couldn’t pay me to taste it. It looked like a sugar coma waiting to happen. But without fail, the seniors would down this cake by the pounds!
Looking back, I wish I could swap every carrot cake I plated on that dessert table with this simple and heart-healthy carrot cake. Rather than a sugar-filled, dense, oily slab, this cake a la King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking is light and fluffy, with a subtle spicy bite. It’s the kind of cake you could eatevery day without guilt. It’s frosting-free, which might disappoint others but if you want you could whip up some cream cheese frosting. But I prefer this cake naked, if you will, kind of like zucchini or pumpkin bread.

I know I’ve made carrot cake before but these two recipes aren’t the same AT ALL. The other is your holiday dessert, the staple of your holiday spread. This is the homey breakfast slice you have the morning of your holiday celebration. The kind of cake you feel good eating, and the kind you don’t feel so guilty giving to your kids. No sugar highs here guys! It is also less fussy than the other. It doesn’t require a watchful eye and bakes up rather quickly without any supervision.

In true form, I couldn’t leave the recipe alone. I left out the pineapple and instead of making a layer cake, I baked the carrot cake in bundt pan. The only change I had to make with this pan change was an increase in baking time from 35 minutes to 45 minutes. I left my changes out of the original recipe though. The trusty test kitchen at King Arthur Flour really puts their recipes through the ringer, making them a trustworthy source for your baking needs. I happen to love this book and even when I make alterations, the end result turns out delicious. If you are need of a Thanksgiving breakfast treat, I highly recommend this recipe and hope you give it a try. Carrot Cake doesn’t need to be an over-the-top affair. The more natural, the better…

King Arthur Flour’s Whole Wheat Carrot Cake
Origin: King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book
Yield: Two 9-inch round layers, 16 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 to 40 minutes

● 4 large eggs
● 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
● 2 tsp vanilla extract
● 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
● 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
● 2 cups whole wheat flour
● 2 tsp baking soda
● 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
● 1 1/2 tsp salt
● 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
● 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
● 2 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
● 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
● 1 cup sweetened coconut, shredded or flaked
● 1 can crushed pineapple, drained

Preheat the oven to 350℉. Grease and flour the pan or pans of your choice or line with parchment paper.
Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, and add the oil while the mixer is running. Add the vanilla, then sprinkle in the sugasr. You will have a thick, foamy, lemon-colored mixture. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium bowl. Add these dry ingredients to the eggs and oil in your mixing bowl, mixing to make a smooth batter. Add the carrots and nuts, then the coconut and pineapple. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
Bake the cakes for the amount of time appropriate to the pan size. The cake is done when a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack, then dust with confectioners’ sugar or frost with cream cheese frosting.

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November 12, 2008 - 10:59 pm

snookydoodle - this looks good. so moist and yummy. I have to give it a try. My sister also works in a senior home. :)

November 13, 2008 - 12:00 am

Sally - Wow! This looks scrumptious. I love that it uses whole wheat flour and you don’t have to feel so bad about eating it…there’s plenty of other dishes around the holidays for that. Can’t wait to put this one to this test! Thank you Amanda!

November 13, 2008 - 3:35 am

Mari - Oh, I’m such a fan! My mother’s WW carrot cake was unrivaled in my childhood. I’m going to have to give this one a try!

November 13, 2008 - 5:36 am

Caitlin - Seriously? How did I miss this – I own this book! Dangit, another on the to-bake list.

November 13, 2008 - 8:18 am

Betsy - I’ve heard something about how elderly people lose the effectiveness of their tastebuds, therefore preferring the most sweet things for their taste. But who knows!

I’m going to make this recipe this weekend, with a few adjustments. :)

November 13, 2008 - 8:24 am

Amanda - betsy, I thought that too! I think they like the added punch sugar gives them flavorwise. When I’m an ole gran, I’ll probably be doing it too :)

November 13, 2008 - 9:24 am

cindy - i was a late bloomer when it came to carrot cake as well…it wasn’t something my mom liked, so we didn’t have it. but now, it is one of my faves. great recipe!

November 13, 2008 - 9:25 am

Kristin at The Kitchen Sink - I am of the opinion that one can never have too much carrot cake (nor too many carrot cake posts on her blog). This looks fantastic. I love the flecks of orange carrot.

November 13, 2008 - 10:56 am

Rosa - Oh, yummy! that cake looks ever so good and moist! You can’t go wrong with KAF’s recipes…



November 13, 2008 - 11:52 am

Jenn - 1 1/2 cups of oil! Somehow that doesn’t fit my concept of a healthy recipe. I might try this with some of it replaced with applesauce.

November 13, 2008 - 2:30 pm

My First Kitchen - Love the napping blood sugar line. And I totally snuck snacks in the freezer at my job, too. Those little cheesecakes were my secret, and I inhaled a many.

And this cake looks delicious.

November 13, 2008 - 3:31 pm

megan - this looks delicious. i’ve actually never been a really big fan of carrot cake but it’s my mom’s favorite. her birthday is on christmas so i think i might bake one for her. lovely post!

November 14, 2008 - 12:05 pm

alesbianandascholar - Just out of curiosity, do you use YummySoup? I’ve noticed when I copy recipes from your blog that they have the exact same headings as the YummySoup fields, so I wondered if that was coincidence or no.

November 15, 2008 - 8:53 pm

gaga - I love carrot cake but always feel so guilty eating it. This recipe definitely makes eating easier!

December 12, 2008 - 9:24 am

Helen - The carrot cake looks amazing! What size should the one can of pineapple be? Thanks! I can’t wait to make this.

December 12, 2008 - 12:24 pm

The Blacksmith - 2 cups of sugar and u call that healthy?! I think is good recipe though, just that I would cut down the sugar to…half cup!

May 8, 2009 - 6:16 pm

Meagan - This recipe inspired my own carrot cake creation! Wonderful pictures :) This recipe is definitely NOT healthy though, in my opinion. I would seriously change some things if I were to follow this recipe. But for those not on the health wagon, have fun and enjoy this one!

May 14, 2009 - 7:18 am

Luau 1st Birthday Party! « Feast on This! - [...] Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (recipe can be found here) [...]

November 3, 2009 - 8:35 am

Erin - I really love this recipe! I have used it for making a quick bread, a birthday cake (with CC frosting of course!) and mini muffins. I do make a few changes so that it’s a bit healthier- applesauce for half of the oil, half of the granulated sugar,and none of the brown sugar. Even with these changes the cake is moist and delicioso. Thanks for sharing!

September 23, 2010 - 11:09 am

15 Homemade Carrot Cakes To Make: {Recipes} : - [...] Whole Wheat Carrot Cake: This is the homey breakfast slice you have the morning of your holiday celebration. The kind of cake you feel good eating, and the kind you don’t feel so guilty giving to your kids. No sugar highs here guys! It is also less fussy than the other. It doesn’t require a watchful eye and bakes up rather quickly without any supervision. From Slow Like Honey. [...]

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