May 1, 2011

"Secret Ingredient" Double Carrot Cake

I just went to a party where we had to guess the "secret ingredient" in the cupcakes. I felt something long and squishy go down my throat and thought, "oh! Chopped up Gummy Worms!" I proceeded to wolf down the rest of my cute little chocolate cupcake with hot pink frosting.

Later I found out that the secret ingredient was Sauerkraut.

Good thing the baker of these cupcakes is so talented and lovely, because I felt seriously violated. I despise Sauerkraut. I can't lie -- the idea of it hidden in chocolate made me nauseous.

I can assure you that the secret ingredient in this carrot cake isn't even remotely creepy or totally wrong.

It's carrot baby food. I first got the idea from my future sister-in-law, who mentioned a great recipe for carrot cake that uses baby food. A couple of years later (this Easter) I used the idea to create my own carrot cake recipe. I call this Double Carrot Cake because it's got twice the carrots, both pureed and shredded.

The recipe ended up being healthier than your typical carrot cake, since the baby food replaces almost the entire cup of oil normally called for. I also swapped out a low-fat cream cheese for a full-fat in the frosting. It's a small difference that helps lighten the cake while remaining completely undetectable.

When M tasted a bite he said, "this is the best carrot cake you've ever made!" We were on our way home from Massachusetts, and he'd been behind the wheel for 5 hours. We had driven there to apply for our Marriage License. The occasion (and our fatigue) called for cake. I dug out the tupperware and spoon fed him a big hunk as he drove. It was safe, I promise.

I know M isn't marrying me for my carrot cake, but if you bake this layered-beauty it might just lead to success in the love department. Cake definitely helps move a relationship along.... It's one of those innocent little helpers.

Regardless, the use of carrot baby food makes this cake extremely moist and lends a bright, beautiful orange color to the layers.

It also creates a depth of sweet carrot flavor, with a generous hint of nutty spice, that is far more present than in most other carrot cakes. Together with little hunks of juicy pineapple and raisins, and loaded with thick cream cheese frosting, it's perfection.

I can't believe I wouldn't try carrot cake until I got to college. I thought that vegetables had no place in dessert. Now I know that sauerkraut has no place in dessert, but carrots? Yes, please.

Double Carrot Cake
2 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour (sifted, then measured)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup raisins
¼ t. fresh ground ginger
3 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 T. coconut oil
2 4-oz. jars carrot baby food, poured into a measuring cup and enough vegetable oil added to equal 1 cup
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups finely grated peeled carrots
2 8-ounce cans crushed pineapple in its own juice, well drained

1 8-ounce package ceam cheese, room temperature
1 8-oz. package light or low-fat cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 T coconut oil
1 t. vanilla extract
1 cup toasted coconut

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup flour with the coconut and raisins and toss. Sift together 2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl.
Using electric mixer, beat sugar and oil in large bowl. Beat in the carrot baby food. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in the coconut and raisin, then carrots and crushed pineapple.
Divide batter among pans. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 1 hour, then loosen the edges by running a knife around the pan. Turn out onto racks and cool completely. Meanwhile, make the frosting.

For frosting:
Beat cream cheese and butter together in large bowl until smooth. Then beat in powdered sugar, then the coconut oil and vanilla extract. 

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over top of cake. Top with second cake layer, flat side up. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over. Spread thin layer of frosting over top and sides of cake. Chill cake and remaining frosting 30 minutes to set the frosting crumb layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake, then decorate by pressing the toasted coconut into the sides. Keep the cake chilled, but let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.


  1. Throw some baby banana food in there and I'm in!!! Sounds yummy :)

  2. I came to this recipe because I was searching for carrot sauerkraut - because I'd been looking (yes, looking!) for sauerkraut cake recipes. I only saw chocolate - until I came across some sauerkraut pumpkin muffins. "Eureka!", I thought. Since there's already coconut (at least in my mother-in-law's - and your - version), how much easier would it be to "sneak" some sauerkraut in there? Especially since I happened to have some yellow carrots, too.

    With a boxed spice cake mix, I put in ingredients, but due to a guest's fruit (!) allergy, I had to omit both pineapple and raisins. And grated carrots instead of baby food. And not too much coconut. The result. So so. Compensation definitely has to be made for a cup or more of grated carrot plus the sauerkraut. A bit more sugar and spices. And another egg and some additional baking powder, perhaps. Still, with a frosting consisting mostly of cream cheese yet enough sweetness, the cupcakes will get eaten...

    Hope you're not too nauseous after you read this. :-)

    1. Baking is all about exploring the boundaries and possibilities! It looks like you had some adventures in the kitchen :) Thank you for sharing about it!!



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