Monday, June 1, 2009

Naturally sweetened carrot cake

**This is not a gluten-free recipe and was posted before I eliminated gluten from my diet. **

fruit-sweetened carrot cake, adapted from 101 cookbooksEven though I really enjoy the challenge of trying to bake with natural sweeteners (particularly fruit), I don't end up cooking sweet things very often because savory treats are my real weakness. Don't leave me in front of a bag of tortilla chips or bowl of nuts if you want any for yourself. Seriously.

But one person in my family will do just about anything for sugar (I suppose a fondness for sweets doesn't get passed down through mitochondrial DNA). I'm still trying to convince people that desserts with natural sweeteners can be just as good (and sweet) as ones laden with refined sugar. When I saw a recipe for carrot cake at 101 Cookbooks, I knew it would do the trick. Dad loves carrot cake, and Mom loves just about anything with the word 'cake' in it, so I gave this a shot while I was visiting them.

Carrot cake (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup dried dates, seeded and minced
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
3 medium carrots, grated
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz. cream cheese at room temp
2 Tbsp honey

Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in pecans. In a separate bowl, combine butter and dates. In a third bowl, combine bananas, carrots, and applesauce. Stir the butter and date mixture into the banana mix, and then add the yogurt and eggs. Add the flour mixture and stir just until everything is combined. Pour into a loaf pan that has been lined with parchment paper and lightly oiled. Bake at 350 for about an hour (until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean). While cake is baking, whip together cream cheese and honey. After cake is done and cools, frost cake with cream cheese mixture.

Stop reading and go make this now. So much for my ability to pass on sweets! Even after eating a ton of boiled peanuts in the afternoon (I told you not to leave me alone with the nuts!) and a very filling dinner of gnocchi, I ate two pieces of this cake. Dad described this as "real carrot cake," and I agree. You could actually taste the carrots, and the cake had a very nice and somewhat dense texture (similar to that of banana bread). The frosting was good, too, and had a subtly sweet flavor that didn't send me into a sugar coma. I think this would have also been great without the frosting, but when I started to asked whether I should put it on the cake, Mom wouldn't even let me finish the question.

Speaking of the frosting, this is another great use of tupelo honey, so be sure to leave a comment on my post about grilled peaches to be entered in the drawing for the honey giveaway.


Julia said...

Hmmm. Intriguing. I do love dates and I know they make a great sweetener, but I've never actually tried them. Your cake looks delicious!

Katie said...

I've only recently started using dates as a sweetener, but I've really enjoyed how everything has turned out so far. I recommend trying it out when you're in the mood for a baking adventure!