Hey! I had the day off, because I usually prefer to take a day off to go to my dentist, only I spaced out and forgot to set an appointment in time, so I just ended up not having anything planned. Except to make this!
This was based off of, believe it or not, that famous pound cake recipe floating around on the interwebs, where you add a can of lemon-lime soda to the batter, and the carbonation in the soda acts as the leavening for the cake. Sometimes it’s called 7up cake. Only this is a carrot cake, and a healthier version of carrot cake, at that.
I wanted to keep it healthier and lower in sugar than traditional carrot cake. so even the soda used in the batter was the kind you find in a health food store that is fruit sugar-sweetened only and about half the sugars than found in the typical orange soda, like Orange Crush, or Fanta.
When it came out of the oven, it was taller and fluffier, but as it sat on my wire rack, it quickly sank. And so did my heart! But as I looked at it more, it still looked appetizing to me. So that’s why you are seeing it here! Because I decided that even though it sank a little, it looks kind of appetizing, and in fact, the sinking created sort of a border around the edges, much like a pie crust! In fact, it feels and tastes like a cross between a cake and a pie. I wanted to keep it dairy-free, so I kept it simple with a garnish of grated carrots at the top.
This cake has great orange and ginger flavors, which is what I wanted, and is only sweetened from the soda, the dates, the prunes, the orange, as well as from the carrots. I wanted to make a carrot cake that had an emphasis of orange and ginger flavor, but I imagine you can modify this easily to stress some of the other flavors commonly found in carrot cakes, like coconut and pineapple. Or more nut flavors, too.
If it still doesn’t feel sweet enough to you, though, do what Ben did, which was to drizzle a little agave syrup over the top. He said he felt that the syrup made it taste like a bread pudding. I agree.
orange carrot cake
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup pitted prunes
2 Tablespoons water
1-inch fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
zest of 1 medium orange
meat of 1 orange, peeled, seeds removed, white parts removed as much as possible
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut flakes, packed
3/4 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup olive oil
2 flax eggs*
1 cup orange soda (I chose San Pellegrino, because it had less sugar than other sodas and contained 17 percent orange juice, plus good orange flavor.)
*If using flax eggs, prepare 2 them for use. (1 flax “egg” = 3 Tablespoons water + 1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds. Let sit for 10 minutes, then whisk slightly and use in place of egg.)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan. (I used a baking spray with butter and flour.) (Also, you can probably use a 9-inch round cake pan with 2-inch sides.)
Sift the flours, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a bowl and stir several times with a whisk.
In a food processor with the blade attachment, add the Medjool dates, prunes, and water and mix on high until well incorporated, scraping down the sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Add the grated fresh ginger and also the zest plus meat of an orange, the extracts, the coconut flakes, and the grated carrot. Mix on high for about 20 seconds. While still mixing on high, pour the olive oil in a stream into the processor. Do the same for the flax eggs.
Remove batter from food processor to the bowl with the flours and spices. Stir and fold with a spoon or spatula until all dry ingredients are completely moistened.
Finally, add the orange soda in thirds, stirring and folding it in, before adding more. Continue to stir and fold until all the soda is incorporated.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack 10 minutes before unmolding. Cool completely. Feel free to sift a light dusting of confectioners sugar over the top, if desired. Ben used about a tablespoon of dark agave syrup, and it tasted much like a bread pudding! Hope you enjoy!