Light Carrot Cake
This recipe is a lightened-up version of a favorite old recipe, and I have been making both for many years (depending on whether or not I was dieting or not). Truthfully, I have been on and off of diets for the whole of my adult life. It’s possible that my love of baking made it necessary for the occasional diet 🙂
In any case, I have made this recipe and taken it to share with friends many times, and nobody ever knew it was a light version unless I told them. It comes out moist and delicious, especially the next day. It has significantly less fat and sugar than a typical carrot cake recipe, so it won’t keep as well. If you aren’t going to eat it up within a couple of days, just cut into squares and put them in the freezer. You can’t thaw it in the microwave though, if it’s iced, as the heat will melt the icing. Just let it thaw in the container sitting on the counter.
Please be sure to check your oven temperature before doing any baking. We are on vacation, and I am not familiar with the oven in this condo. I just made this cake again to take to an Easter Sunday supper this past weekend, and it came out overcooked and dry. Not to mention that it also burned my Easter bread, but that’s another story. Grrr! I should have checked, but I didn’t think there was any problem with it, since I had cooked chicken and casseroles in it and not had any trouble. But baking is much less forgiving of differences in oven temperature, so lesson learned! Always check your oven temperature by putting a portable oven thermometer into it, especially before baking.
So, let’s get to it. This one’s an easy one! Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F, and oiling your 9×13 pan.
Next, stir 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup each white and brown sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp baking powder together in a bowl. Then get all of your wet ingredients out, measured, and ready to go as you will work quickly from here on.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add 1/4 cup oil, 4 beaten eggs, 3 cups grated carrots, and 3/4 cups crushed pineapple (make sure you beat the eggs before adding them). Adding the oil first keeps the wet ingredients from getting into the dry until you stir it all together. Make sure to work quickly from this point, because as soon as the baking soda gets wet, it starts to work at creating air bubbles. This is what makes the cake light so you don’t want to stir the batter much after that, as you would be losing those air bubbles. Then add the raisins (and nuts if you are using them), and stir in with a spoon. No need even for a mixer.
Pour that yummy batter into an oiled 9×13 pan, smooth it out, and pop it into the preheated oven.
And in 30 minutes or so, you have this lovely, golden brown carrot cake. Check it with a toothpick in the center. Sit the pan on a cooling rack, and let it cool in the pan. In fact, I usually ice it and serve it right from the pan too. Wait till it’s cool before icing with cream cheese icing.
And here is the cream cheese icing recipe that I use:
Set out ahead of time to come to room temperature: 8 ounces light cream cheese and 1/4 cup butter. Beat the cream cheese and butter together to combine, then add 1 1/2 cups icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Then stir in 1 heaping Tbsp sour cream with a spoon. (Sometimes sour cream gets really liquid if it’s beaten too much, so this is why I just stir it in at the last.) I got the idea to use sour cream in the icing from making the Pashka recipe to serve along with my Easter Bread. (Pashka is a cream cheese spread that’s good on all sorts of breads and bagels, and you can find that recipe in my post about Easter Bread.) Thanks Terri, for that great recipe!
Spread the whole thing onto your cooled cake, and voila! This cream cheese icing recipe makes enough for this 9×13 cake. If you want to use cream cheese icing for a filled and iced two-layer cake, then just double this recipe. I know you will love this as much as I do!
This is a lightened up version of an old favorite. It has 1/4 of the oil and 1/2 of the sugar of my traditional recipe. I have made it many times, and nobody ever knows it's a light recipe unless I tell them. It's moist and light, and is even better the next day. Frost with cream cheese icing for a special treat.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup oil (canola or other light tasting oil)
- 4 eggs, well beaten
- 3 cups grated carrots
- 3/4 cups crushed pineapple (no sugar added)
- 1/2 cup dark raisins
- 2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
- 8 ounces light cream cheese, room temp
- 1/4 cup butter, room temp
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 heaping Tbsp light sour cream
- Spray a 9x12 or 9x13 pan with cooking oil spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add oil, beaten eggs, pineapple and grated carrots. Stir to combine well. Stir in raisins (and nuts if using).
- Pour batter into oiled pan and spread out evenly.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 - 35 minutes. Test by pushing a toothpick into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. If there is batter sticking to the toothpick, it needs a little longer cooking time.
- Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Ice once cake is cool.
- Beat the cream cheese and butter together to combine. Beat in the icing sugar and vanilla. Stir in sour cream gently with a spoon. Makes enough to ice the 9x13 pan. Keep iced cake in a cool place.
This recipe uses more baking soda than baking powder, so the leavening action starts as soon as the dry ingredients are moistened. It's important to have your raisins and nuts all measured and ready to add, and to work quickly when pouring the batter into the pan and smoothing it out so as to not loose the air bubbles that the baking soda creates.