Recipe: Vegan Carrot Cake
First of all, some things you should know:
1) I developed this recipe myself, over several years. It started as a mutant version of Alton Brown's Good Eats carrot cake, and then never looked back. Every single year for the past five, I have made this cake for my husband's birthday. He's vegan. It's his favorite.
2) The cake is vegan, but it doesn't have any frankengredients and is totally recognizable and enjoyable for omnivores. I am not one to obsess over the vegan categorization...the (store bought) icing on this cake has sugar (bone char) and palm oil (Orang-utan habitat). Adjust your version as you see fit.
3) It is not a "light" cake. It has a heavy crumb, and it is very rich with pecans, carrots, and coconut. As a bonus, this means the cake isn't delicate or temperamental.
4) I have some really ugly concrete counter tops. Also, I drink water constantly. Both of these feature prominently in the photos.
Vegan Carrot Cake
2 C unbleached cane sugar
2 T molasses
3/4 C Earth Balance, room temperature
3/4 C apple sauce
1/2 C silken tofu, whipped (I use a Ninja blender)
2 C all purpose flour
1 t iodized salt
1 t baking powder
1 t ground cinnamon (I also add a pinch of ground cloves)
2 C raw carrots, peeled, trimmed, and grated (again, I use the Ninja blender)
3/4 C raw pecans, chopped finely (love my Ninja!)
1/4 C coconut (raw, sweetened, grated from the baking aisle)
1 t raw ginger, grated on a rasp (optional)
Add the sugar, molasses, and Earth Balance to a mixing bowl and combine them with an electric mixer on medium speed. The resulting mixture should look like coarse beach sand, not "creamed" as in other recipes.
(Note: The cane sugar and molasses combination at this ratio is a substitute for brown sugar, which you can use if you'd like. I just don't keep it on hand because it does poorly in the humidity).
Add the apple sauce and tofu, and blend on medium until well combined. (Another Note: the tofu is a substitute for four eggs, which you can use if you eat eggs! The texture of the cake is so rich and dense that the difference isn't that noticeable). Add the dry ingredients to the top of the wet, then stir them with a dinner fork to combine them. This is a lazy alternative to combining dry ingredients separately. Again, the cake doesn't really need it.
Prep your carrots and throw them in the blender or food processor. Here are my carrots, which ended up being way too many carrots:
And here is what the carrots look like after they have been grated in the Ninja:
Don't juice them, but get out all of the large chunks. If you end up with too many grated carrots, just make carrot slaw by adding vinegar, mayo, raisins, and parsley. Or make too many carrots on purpose. Your call.
Measure out the carrots, pecans, and coconut, and start to combine everything by folding with a fork. Get out your ginger nub and grate it directly into the batter as you go. This cake can handle it.
Use Earth Balance or vegetable shortening to do this to two 8" nonstick cake pans:
Add the batter, and fill the cake pans to within 1/2" of the rim. This cake doesn't rise much, so you can fill them quite high.
Bake the cakes at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes. The centers should be solid, with no browning on top. Once they are out of the oven, allow them to cool in the pans for 10 minutes (set a timer), then turn them out to finish cooling completely.
Ice and serve! My husband is crazy about store bought icing. And hey, Christina Tosi agrees that it is a culinary treat, so who am I to argue? We use Betty Crocker Cream Cheese icing, which weirdly enough is vegan (but contains conventional sugar). You could use any icing recipe you like, or none at all. The cake freezes well and even makes a great breakfast pastry if you toast it.