Fearless Vegan


Isa, Be My Valentine?
16 February, 2011, 10:27 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Since the greatest love in my life is baking, I decided to spend this V-Day weekend baking my favourite recipes.  Most of them, of course, happened to be my versions of several recipes by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of The Post Punk Kitchen blog, Veganomicon, Vegan with a Vengeance, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and several other fantastic vegan cookbooks.  (I seriously think I own more of her cookbooks than anything else.)  Isa is my favourite vegan chef.  I started using her recipes before I even went vegan, and discovered my passion for baking through her recipes.  She is my inspiration, so I decided to use my V-Day as an ode to her.

My favourite recipe that I made this weekend is out of Vegan with a Vengeance: the Ginger-Macadamia Nut-Coconut Carrot Cake.  The first thing that got me was the full color picture of this cake in the book.  I’m pretty sure that my drooling over this picture is what convinced me to buy the book in the first place.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one; I made this cake for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner last year and won over my entire omnivorous family with it.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Kayla-cake without my own modifications, so the following recipe isn’t Isa’s original.  But I dare say it is just as delicious, and won over all of my omnivorous co-workers.  I didn’t have macadamia nuts, so I was forced to go without, and, although it broke my heart, I realized not everyone loves coconut as much as I do, so I left it for topping only.  And thus the Spicy Ginger Carrot Cake was born!

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup finely sliced pineapple
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 cups carrots, grated

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round springform cake pans (or one 9×13″ baking pan).
In a medium mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground spices.
In a larger mixing bowl, mix the pineapple and juice, oil, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and ginger. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine well. Fold in the carrots and mix.
Divide the batter evenly between the two round pans (or spread in the rectangular pan) and bake for 40-45 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pans. After the cakes are cool, gently flip them and assemble a two layer cake with choice of frosting.  Isa pairs this cake with a delicious creamy coconut icing (can be found with the original recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance), but I decided to opt for a more neutral cream cheese frosting, as I sadly confess that not everyone loves coconut like I do.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 8-oz package of vegan cream cheese, softened (I use Tofutti)
1/4 cup Earth Balance, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
2-3 cups powdered sugar (depending on desired taste and consistency; I like my frosting rich and thick)

Cream together the cream cheese and E.B. with a hand mixer.
Mix in the vanilla, then add powdered sugar slowly until you reach desired taste and consistency.

For a simple decoration, I then sprinkled a mixture of the dry spices lightly on top to give the cake some color, and, not wanting to leave out coconut entirely, I added some lightly toasted coconut.  If you’ve never toasted coconut, don’t be scared.  It’s not difficult, but it does require patience and attention.  I place the coconut in a thin layer on a baking sheet in the oven at around 325 degrees.  Bake anywhere from 5-10 minutes, keeping a watchful eye.  It will seem like it is taking forever, but as soon as the coconut shreds dry up, it will brown up very quickly.  Let the coconut cool before you put it on the cake, as you don’t want it melting or ruining your frosting.

I hope that you enjoy this cake and this recipe as much as I do, and I strongly recommend you pick up one of Isa’s books or read her blog.  It’s a decision that you and your tastebuds won’t regret!

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