Although using carrots in baking may seem odd, carrots were used in European sweet cakes since the Middle Ages when other sweeteners were hard to find or just too expensive. In fact, carrots, along with beets, contain more sugar than most other vegetables which might explain their use in desserts. Speaking of carrots, the orange carrots we enjoy today originated from the purple variety grown in Afghanistan since the 7th Century AD. As carrots moved westward into Europe the orange variety came about and this is the variety the English settlers brought to America. ‘Carrot’ comes from the Greek word “karōton” and the Greeks started the belief that eating carrots would improve your eyesight. During World War II the British furthered this belief by saying that British pilots improved their night vision by eating huge amounts of carrots. They were, however, only trying to encourage the eating of carrots as it was one of the few foods that were not in short supply during the war.
Carrot Cake never goes out of style and one bite will tell you why. This rich and moist spice cake, full of grated carrot, has great flavor, especially when covered with a tangy and sweet cream cheese frosting. The interesting part is that while those pretty orange flecks of grated carrot give the Carrot Cake color and texture, along with sweetness and moisture, its’ flavor is almost indistinguishable. I think the biggest debate surrounding the Carrot Cake is whether crushed pineapple should be added to the batter. Adding this ingredient will add flavor and moisture to the cake so, if you like, add 1/2 cup (120 ml) of crushed pineapple to the batter, right along with the vanilla extract. Take note, though, that you may need to bake the carrot cake a few minutes longer than the recipe states.
1 cup (240 ml) crushed pineapple
4 cups grated carrots
2 – 1/2 cups (315 gr.) organic king arthur whole wheat flour
1 tbsp (14 gr.) baking powder
2 tsp (10 gr.) baking soda
1 tsp (7 gr.) salt
2 tsp (10 gr.) cinnamon
1 tsp (5 gr.) nutmeg
1 cup (227 gr.) butter
1 – 1/4 (250 gr.) sugar
4 eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C). Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a wire whisk, set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until creamy, add the eggs and vanilla extract. Pour half of the flour mixture and half the milk and continue beating, do the same with the rest. Finally, add the carrot and pineapple and add them manually to the mix. Pour into a greased 9 inches and floured pan, bake for 40 minutes.
Be sure to drain as much liquid as you can from the pineapple, before adding to the mixture.
For this recipe, I added orange skin to the batter and a cream cheese frosting with unsweetened coconut flakes.