Recipe is intended to serve 12, and comes from the Podleski Sisters: Looneyspoons. The recipe can be found online, or in their 2012 "Collection" book. Google Carrot Cake and there are 14 million results! My files contain more than one of those many variations. Some use pineapple to achieve the moist texture we associate with this treat. The Sisters use pumpkin. I now use only this recipe and that is because of the calorie count - though it does taste great! The Podleski Sisters always aim to achieve the best possible balance between flavour and calories / nutrition. I decided not to get into including calories and nutritional info on this blog/site, but a simple internet search reveals that many carrot cakes weigh in at 700+ calories per slice!! And that!! - is why I went years without eating any. Oddly, there is some discrepancy linked to this recipe. In their book, they list a slice as 183 calories, and the online recipe lists 370 - something tells me the latter is more accurate. Anyhow... still preferable to the alternatives.

Getting Ready. I like the way TV shows have all the ingredients ready / measured ahead of time. This is how they make it seem so easy. In kitchens, this is called "mise en place" (or simply mise). Personal preference or circumstances will determine what is prepped the day before, or just before assembling. These tips seem like a lot of words - but following the tips can make the entire process easier - maybe even fun!

  • Spray two 9 inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Cut circles of parchment to fit bottoms. Lightly spray paper. (parchment could be cut day before)
  • Measure / combine dry ingredients (could be done day before)
  • Grate carrots (could be done day before; store shredded carrots in fridge, in covered container lined with paper towels)
  • Walnuts (could be done day before)
  • Coconut (could be measured day before, but then cover well to prevent it from drying out)
  • Frosting (could be done 1-2 days before, store in fridge and then freshen it up with a quick whip by hand or machine; for some reason, the Sisters suggest making the frosting first and then the cake - if doing the same day, I'd be inclined to make the frosting while the cake is baking.) 
  • On day of: 1) Preheat oven to 350 F. 2) Take eggs out of refrigerator - for all baking, it is best to use eggs at room temperature. 3) measure orange juice concentrate. 4) have every other ingredient measured, prepped and ready.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed or ground chia seeds
1 TB ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp each - ground nutmeg and ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt

Dry Ingredients. In a medium bowl, combine flour, ground flax seed, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, ginger and salt. Set aside.

1 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup high quality vegetable oil (Important tip below)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Wet Ingredients. Using low-speed of electric mixer beat together pumpkin, brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla until well blended.

2 cups finely grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix using a wooden spoon just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not use a mixer for this step. Gently fold in carrots, walnuts and coconut.

Divide batter evenly among baking pans. Bake on middle oven rack for about 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centre of cakes comes out clean.

Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely before frosting. If desired, press finely chopped walnuts into sides of cake.

Unless serving cake within the hour, cake should be kept in refrigerator (because of the cream cheese icing). But if in fridge, allow it to sit at room temperature for about a half hour before serving - soooo much better.

Frosting.  In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until well blended. Gradually add icing sugar and beat until well blended. Add orange juice concentrate and orange zest and mix well. Cover and refrigerate frosting until ready to use.

1 ½ pkg (12 oz total) light (?) cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
1 tsp grated orange zest

Notes and Tips...

  • Layers vs. Two Cakes - I never do this as a "layer" cake - it seems like too much.  The frosting recipe yields enough to ice each layer completely. Then I can 'gift' the second cake, or freeze the second (un-iced) cake for future use. In that case I may make just half the frosting recipe.
  • Pan sizes - I don't own 9" pans (no reason why); for this I use two 8.5" spring-form pans
  • Nutmeg -  I have been influenced by relatives in Hungary and always use freshly grated nutmeg.
  • Pumpkin Purée - the recipe stresses to take care to buy pure pumpkin purée, NOT pumpkin pie filling. Problem is that the can is huge. Since I make this cake often, I measure out and freeze a cup for the next time.
  • Brown Sugar (not packed) - packed or unpacked makes a difference. According to ATK - "... packed and unpacked cups of brown sugar will contain different amounts. To prove our point, we had 10 test cooks measure 2 cups of brown sugar: one packed and one not packed. We weighed each sample and found that, on average, a packed cup of light brown sugar weighs about 2 ounces more than a cup that is not packed. That 2-ounce difference accounts for almost 30 percent of the weight of a cup. THE BOTTOM LINE Pack the brown sugar when a recipe says to."
  • Vegetable Oil - the Sisters offer a tip on this. They say "For baking and other high-temperature cooking, look for "high oleic" safflower or sunflower oil... oleic acid is much less susceptible to heat damage... the high heat (can) destroy a lot of (the oil's) precious antioxidants and nutrients."
  • Carrots - I hate using a box grater - instead I use the grating disk on my food processor
  • Walnuts - not sure why the Sisters do not suggest toasting the walnuts; most nuts taste better and fresher when toasted. Here's how to do it. They do have to cool. Toast whole and chop after. 
  • Coconuts - see my coconut tips; the Sisters do not specify - so personal preference will determine whether to use finely desiccated or flaked.
  • Frosting - in these photos I used the ATK cream cheese frosting, but have used the one provided here often. The orange flavour is lovely.
  • Cream cheese - light? though I take care with calories, I tend to use full fat products, so I do not buy light cream cheese, and... unless I have some other immediate need for a half package of cream cheese, I just add two full packages to the icing. Clearly these ideas are how the Sisters cut back on calories.
  • Butter - I have talked about 80 vs. 84% butter. For a frosting, I think regular / 80% is just fine.
  • Orange Juice concentrate - this is anther product that I don't usually have on hand. I remove it from the packaging, put it in another container that can tolerate the freezer, and then use tablespoon measures as needed.
  • Make Ahead - many cakes can handle being frozen (un-iced), then thawed and iced as needed. Would be great to have a freezer full of these!
  • For KB Recipe Attribution Practices please click here.

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