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Carrot Cake

This is the classic American carrot cake, moist with tropical fruit (pineapple and coconut) and topped with cream cheese icing. It is very similar to the cake my mother used to make all the time, though this recipe comes from the Magnolia Bakery in New York City, a venue famous for old-fashioned cakes, pies, puddings and cookies (that do not spare the butter and sugar!) I made only slight adustments to their recipe when I baked this cake for the Shakti Rasa retreat in May 2012. Though it would be quite possible to make substitutions if you want to eliminate dairy, wheat, sugar or eggs, I'll leave that challenge to you. This is the cake I made that day, posted here by special request. Enjoy!

2 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 cups lightly packed shredded carrots
1 cup (8 oz) crushed pineapple in its own juice, with juice (from tin is fine)
1 cup finely-chopped toasted pecan nuts
3/4 cups dessicated coconut

1. Prepare pecan nuts: place nuts on baking tray and bake at 180 C for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool and chop.

2. Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch round cake tins. Line the bottoms with greaseproof paper.

3. Sift together dry ingredients. Set aside.

4. In an electric mixer, beat together the coconut oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat until light and thick, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until well-incorporated. Stir in the carrots, pineapple and juice, pecans, and coconut.

5. Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans, smoothing over the surfaces until level.

6. Bake for about 40 minutes at 160 - 180 C. (Time and temperature really depend on your oven. So check and use your judgement. A toothpick inserted in the centre should come out clean when it is done. The surface should be golden brown and spring back lightly to the touch.

7. Cool the cakes on wire racks for about 15 minutes and then remove from the pans and place directly on the racks to cool completely before icing.

Cream Cheese Icing

350 grams (more or less) best quality cream cheese, softened
50 - 75 grams butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 - 5 cups icing sugar (more or less)

As you can see this recipe is very imprecise. Just beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Add the sugar, a cup at a time, beating well and watching the consistency. Add more or less icing sugar until you get a smooth and creamy icing. If it is too thin, just add more sugar until it feels right for spreading. (You can also put the mixture in the fridge to thicken it up a bit before icing your cake.)

Recipe adapted from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, by Allysa Torey and Jennifer Appel

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"Thoughts come and go.
Feelings come and go.
Find out what it is that remains."
Ramana Maharshi

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