Hold on to your horses, Nellie, I’ve been thinking again.
We all know that some recipes are created with specifics for serving times in mind. Chocolate Chip Cookies? Snack time. Ditto brownies. Pumpkin cheesecake? Strawberry-Filled Angel Food Cake? Dessert all the way.
But there are some baked goods that defy Father Time, deny the clock, and don’t deign to conform to just one time slot. Pizza is ubiquitous as both a dinner and breakfast in the under-20 college crowd. Banana Bread: breakfast, brunch, dessert? All of the above? What role does icing play? Carrot Cake too, amirite?
This Egg-Free Carrot Cake is one of my all-time favorite recipes. It’s based on a recipe from a heart-healthy cookbook my mom had in the ’70s, which surprisingly did not include any whole grains. I’ve substituted whole wheat flour; bumped up the spices, and eliminated the baby-food carrots. Egg- and dairy-free, it’s a great option for vegetarians and vegans.
Come on to the kitchen, I can’t wait to make another batch!
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
In a medium-sized saucepan, place:
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter (use soy margarine for dairy-free)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 to 1 teaspoon ground cloves, to taste (allspice makes a good substitute)
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. The whole house will smell like carrot cake at this point, so be prepared for tummy-grumblings.
Remove the pan from the heat and place in the fridge to cool to lukewarm. You can transfer the mixture to a bowl at this point, but I’ve always made the cake batter right in the saucepan. Saving dishes is always a bonus, in my book.
Once the carrot mixture has cooled, the “sauce” will be slightly syrupy and very fragrant. Add:
Stir just until you have a thick batter with no streaks of flour left. If you’re using nuts, fold in 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans.
Scrape the batter into a well-greased and floured 9″ x 2″ round pan. The pan must be at least 2″ deep to avoid overflow in the oven.
If you only have an 8″ x 2″ pan, fill the pan halfway and bake the rest of the batter in ramekins or as cupcakes. Other options for the batter are 12 cupcakes; a 9″ x 2″ square, or mini loaves. OH, yes, you can double the recipe for a two-layer cake or a 9″ x 13″ x 2″ sheet cake.
Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
This cake is dense and moist, and without icing it makes a great breakfast. Of course, if you want to add Cream Cheese Frosting, I’m here to cheer you on for that, too.
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Let’s play book club, shall we? Question: Do you think carrot cake was originally designed for breakfast, or for dessert? Discuss.