The vegan lifestlye has really taken off in the last few years. Whether you are a recent convert, a veteran or simply curious, why not treat yourself or a friend to this delicious and quite simple carrot cake recipe?
THE NEW YEAR has arrived once again, as it is inclined to do according to the cyclical nature of a calender. I have never been one to make resolutions based on an essentially arbitrary day, believing instead that you can make changes, adjustments, or just intentions to make adjustments at any point. Even taking a moment to remember that yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not guaranteed but will most likely arrive and you can do something new, or rediscover something you had lost, at any point.
With that said, I started 2016 with good intentions of washing my, not quite favourite, but most trust worthy, jacket. This was an easy task that only required some new fabric conditioner and a good drying day, both of which yesterday brought me. This task was simply expedited and after a couple of hours I moved on with my life.
Another task I set myself recently was to practice making carrot cake. As a vegan, I have come to realise that the best way to enjoy the foods you love is to adopt/acquaint yourself with a vegan chef or learn how to be one yourself. I am working on the latter. My techniques for making cakes in the past was to shallow fry some dried fruit in a vegetable based margarine until soft and sweetly, add a pinch of baking powder, a splash of soya milk, douse in flour, mix, bake, and call it cake. These cakes were not the most aesthetically pleasing, but that is not why I made them.
Carrot cake, I have come to learn, requires a little more attention and cannot be whipped up during the advert break of the news when the need for something sweet strikes. Carrot cake required me to plan ahead, choose a day when the cake would be made, invest in a proper cake dish. So my disappointment was evident (not so evident that there was any cake left) when my first attempt was sweet and stodgy/overly sugary and unbaked. I had made the mistake of assuming that a pancake mix-like texture would turn itself into a fluffy floaty delight in 40 minutes. Wrong. Kinda delicious but wrong (as seen below).
The recipes I had been following would not describe the texture I should be aiming for, assuming that if you followed the instructions, the correct texture would present itself. A recipe has always been more an avuncular recommendation to me. Open to contention. Malleable to what you have in your cupboard. When one says ‘apple sauce’, I say ‘I don’t know what that is! How about a stewed banana with some soya milk?’. It more often than not works, providing the texture is correct. The texture is the key to a good cake until I learn otherwise. The texture, when vegan baking, it was told to me, should be ‘oatmeal like’. That didn’t make sense to me as we didn’t really have that where I grew up. ‘Like porridge?’ I suggested. A porridge texture I could do.
I searched around the internet and found a few recipes which accommodated for the ingredients in my cupboard and my parsimonious nature.The recipe below is what I have come up with (please note that measuring things in cups scares me and one cup equals roughly 235 millilitres):
the BEAN_ist CARROT CAKE
- One large banana
- 295millilites of self raising flour (one and a quarter cups)
- One teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 120 millilitres of margarine (about half a cup)
- One teaspoon of salt (I went with just a pinch)
- One and a half teaspoons of baking powder
- Two teaspoons of cinnamon
- 235 millilitres of brown sugar (one cup)
- 60 millilitres of soya milk (around a quarter of a cup)
- One medium sized carrot
- A handful of walnuts and almonds (around a cup)
- 235 millilitres of macadamia or cashew nuts (soaked overnight if you plan ahead or at least three hours before making your carrot cake)
- Soya milk
- Powdered icing sugar
- Vanilla extract (optional)
Place your peeled and roughly sliced carrot into a mini-chopper if you have one, finely grate by hand if not. (The mini-chopper works really well though!). Place the results in a bowl and then move onto chopping the walnuts and almonds (or maybe crush them in bag?).
Measure out the dry ingredients into the bowl with the carrots and walnuts then store at a safe distance so as to not knock them over.
Measure into a saucepan the margarine and melt at a low temperature along with the banana, soya milk and vanilla extract.
Once the wet ingredients are melted nicely, mix the dry ones into the saucepan and mix them together slowly and carefully with a big spoon.
Once the texture looks suitably oatmeal or porridge-like (ie not too runny) scrape the saucepan contents into a baking a pan.
Place the pan into a preheated over at around 165 degrees celsius and allow to bake for 40 minutes. I also find that, as with many things, especially when cooking or baking, slower and longer works best. After 40 minutes check – perhaps with a chopstick – that the cake is baked throughout and put back into the oven accordingly.
TO MAKE THE TOPPING
Take the nuts of your choice (macadamia or cashew are the two I have tried) which have been soaked overnight and strain the water from them. Place back into the container and pour soya milk over them until almost fully submerged. Add a tablespoon of powdered sugar and blend until smooth. Again, I think a porridge like texture is the standard to aim for.
If, with any skill or luck, your cake should emerge fully baked, not stodgy and entirely delicious. Leave to cool then apply the topping. Eat alone or with someone you like enough to share your efforts with.
Your cake may look like this:
If it’s not too much of a distraction, I highly recommend listening to Jon Ronson On… which I have discovered the full back catalogue of is available to stream on his website.