Saturday, May 21, 2011

carrot cake madness!

Last week I invited my friends Natalie and Sasha over to experiment with more vegan baking. I guess experiment isn’t quite the word, seeing as I’ve become quite the seasoned vegan baker as of late, and that’s just what I’ve blogged about! Actually, I may (or may not) have baked every test recipe for the new HH book. I’ll have to post about my favorite recipes when the book is released at the end of the year! Until then, I hope you like carrot cake!
I didn’t always enjoy carrot cake. What drew me in was the cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese frosting is my favorite frosting by a landslide. Sweet, creamy, and slightly tangy, it has been my favorite for some time. I’ve made cream cheese swirl brownies and iced many a cupcake with cream cheese spread. I’ve been pleased with the Tofutti product, although not really its ingredients list, the taste is fantastic and truly similar. At any rate, I’ve come to enjoy the taste of raisins, shredded carrots, and a mild cake flavor covered in creamy frosting.
I’ve amassed three distinctly different recipes over the past year or so and have yet to make a vegan carrot cake. I have made two vegan carrot cake pancake recipes, both of which were very good, but never an actual cake (or cupcakes). I decided to tackle all three one afternoon to determine the best! One disclaimer: I frosted them all per Mama Pea’s frosting recipe, although I did add the lemon zest in last to ice OSG’s.
Third Place: Angela (Oh She Glows) Carrot Cake Loaf (pictured in the loaf pan, naturally). Angela’s recipe was a brilliant combination of healthy flours (spelt and ww) with natural sweeteners. But the taste didn’t wow me. It also did not hold up very well over time. I had it covered/refrigerated and served it three days later, only to find it fairly dry. It went unfinished. This loaf may have been best served immediately, and I give her some props for the healthy recipe, but it was simply not the best.
Second Place: Lindsay (The Happy Herbivore) Carrot Cake Cupcakes (pictured as cupcakes in the zig-zag pattern). Lindsay has prided these as being one of her new most popular recipes from the HH cookbook. Always a fan for a fat-free dessert, I knew I needed to try these. When the time came, I finally examined the recipe and was fairly disappointed. One large carrot to make a dozen cupcakes? I felt as though these fell short in nutrition. I’m not looking to eat a salad in a dessert, but the other recipes really bulked up on the carrot count. Needless to say, these lacked in the taste department. There was not really enough discernable carrot flavor for me. I may have had to tell someone that tried them that they were actually carrot cake cupcakes. Nevertheless, they tasted very good, and not anywhere close to fat-free. Light, fluffy, and some added flavor from the spices. I would add two more carrots and definitely make these again.
First Place: Sarah (Peas & Thank You) Carrot Cake Squares (pictured in the 8x8 pan). Sarah’s take is most interesting seeing as she calls for the carrots to be steamed first and then blended. She garnered the most amount of carrots in her recipe and, in turn, the maximum carrot taste. But it wasn’t overwhelming, it was just right. I also enjoyed the raisins in her recipe. While she did use earth balance, it really made these decadent and not terribly caloric or fatty. I could serve these to an omnivore and they would have no idea they were vegan. She “take the cake”, so to speak. I have always had good fortune with her desserts.
My friends never got to try them as they needed to cool and we all had other plans before frosting. More cake for my co-workers and family friends!