Carrot Orange Cake with Cinnamon Sauce
When I was a kid, the cake I enjoyed the most was an apple cake my grandmother used to make. It was a rustic, unassuming cake, and even when so many years have passed since the last time I ate it, I can still feel its taste and smell with my eyes closed. Actually, my grandmother’s cakes used to be my favorites: the apple cake was the one I’d prefer over any other, although I’d be quite content with a few slices of the orange or the cinnamon cakes too.
As far as carrot cakes go, I don’t exactly remember the last time (before last Saturday) I ate one. I’m almost sure my grandmother has baked it some time in the past, but I can’t exactly recall when or even how good it was (I’m sure it was good anyway). The other day I came over to her place for a visit, and she told me about a carrot cupcake she used to eat in a bakery downtown. I feel that “cupcake” isn’t a fair translation for the kind of sweet treat she was talking about… it’s like a cake made with very little flour, moist, rich, and with an intense carrot flavor. As you can imagine, that left me with a big craving for something similar. I was digging on the internet trying to find recipes for the actual cake my grandmother described (as a kid, I used to eat it very often too), but the ones I’ve found mainly relied on eggs for structure. It’s not that I gave up on trying to find a vegan version for this particular kind of cake, but in the meantime, and in order to satisfy my cravings, I baked a simple, sort of traditional, carrot cake instead. And shared it with my grandmother.
The cake, we thought, was very good, but I tell you straight away: if carrots aren’t your thing, this cake is not for you. The carrot flavor is quite present, and the addition of orange zest and juice gives this baked good a fresh, citrus tang. As far as the preparation goes, it is really easy to make – with all the ingredients on hand, the batter will only take you a few minutes to prepare -, and the cinnamon sauce is a great complement to the whole thing, although I think the cake could also be enjoyed plain. And as a last note: do let the cake sit for a while (preferably overnight) before enjoying it, as it really makes a difference (the flavors will mature and be way more pronounced).
Carrot Orange Cake
(makes 8-10 slices)
1 cup (125 grams) bleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (125 grams) rye flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 and ½ cups (255 grams) cooked carrots (from about 5 carrots)
1 cup (125 grams) finely grated carrots (from about 1 large carrot)
1 cup (250 ml) agave nectar
½ cup (125 ml) olive oil
1/3 cup (80 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
1 heaped tablespoon flax seed
¼ cup (60 ml) warm water
for the cinnamon sauce:
1 and ½ cups (375 ml) soy milk
2 heaped teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons muscavado sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Lightly oil a 20 cm round baking pan. Coat the pan with flour, shaking out the excess.
2. In a bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, the ground spices and the orange zest.
3. In the bowl of a food processor, add the flax seed and the water. Process until smooth. Now, add the cooked and raw carrots, as well as the agave nectar, olive oil, and orange juice. Process until totally smoth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
4. Using a spatula, gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, blending well.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 to 1 and ¼ hours, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
6. In the meantime, prepare the cinnamon sauce: in a saucepan over medium heat, add the soy milk, cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and ground cinnamon, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Once boiling, immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (don’t stop whisking), or until the sauce has thickened. Serve over each slice of the cake.