Carrot cake again? I know, I know, how much carrot cake can someone eat? Well, I've eaten entirely too much of it in the last two weeks. After Hungry Bear made her fantastic carrot cake, I wanted to make a light version while her normal, full-fat version was still fresh on our minds.
The light carrot cake recipe was adapted from Cook's Illustrated (CI). I used all the CI fat reducing steps...
- Reduced the amount of oil from 1 1/2 cups to 1/2 cup
- Reduced the number of eggs from 4 to 3
- Used Philadelphia Neufchatel reduced-fat cream cheese
- Lowered the sugar quantity in the frosting
Then, I kept the majority of the normal cake's other ingredients to keep the flavors similar, which means pineapples and coconut flakes were included.
Cook's Illustrated's light cream cheese frosting recipe uses 12 oz of reduced fat cream cheese and no butter. I didn't like the idea of buying two 8 oz boxes of low fat cream cheese and not use 4 oz. So, I modified the recipe to use 8 oz of cheese and added a little butter.
The light carrot cake was pretty good. We thought the cake tasted similar to the full-fat version, but Hungry Bear's cake had a superior, more tender texture. The light cake was a little too moist and dense, which was a surprise given only half a cup of oil was used. It was probably due to the moisture of the carrots (3 cups) and pineapples. I actually preferred the light cream cheese frosting over the full-fat version because it was less sweet and rich.
Here's a breakdown of calories and fat per serving for the two cakes...
|Carrot Cake||Calories||Fat (g)||Saturated Fat (g)||Cholesterol (mg)|
As you can see, the light carrot cake is not a low fat dessert, but with half the fat of the normal recipe, it still tastes great. If someone were to serve me this cake, I wouldn't know it was a light version. If you love carrot cake, eat it regularly, and want a lighter recipe, definitely give this one a try. When I'm craving carrot cake again (it will be awhile), I'll stick with Hungry Bear's carrot cake.
Light Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar (7 ounces)
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 pound carrots (about 6 medium), peeled and grated (3 cups)
- 8 ounces canned crushed pineapple, drained (optional)
- 3 1/2 ounces coconut flakes (optional)
- 8 ounces Philadelphia Neufchatel (1/3 less fat) cream cheese, softened but still cool
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened but still cool
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 6 ounces confectioners' sugar
- Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13 by 9-inch baking pan with vegetable oil. Line bottom of pan with parchment.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside.
- Shred carrots using a box grater; set aside. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or in large bowl and using hand-held mixer), beat eggs, granulated and brown sugars on medium-high until they turn thick and creamy, 1 to 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the oil until thoroughly combined and emulsified, 30 to 60 seconds.
- On low speed, add half the flour mixture over the batter and gently mix in. Repeat once more with the remaining flour mixture and continue to mix the batter gently until most of the lumps are gone (do not overmix). By hand stir in the carrots, pineapple and coconut until well combined. Pour into cake pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto a wire rack and remove the parchment paper. Flip the cake right-side up, and cool completely on a wire rack, about 2 hours, before frosting.
- Mix cream cheese, butter, and vanilla at medium high speed in clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment ( or in large bowl using handheld mixer) until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until fluffy, about 1 minute. Using icing spatula, spread frosting evenly over surface of cake. Cut into squares and serve.
Makes one 13 by 9-inch cake and 16 servings
[Adapted from The Best Light Recipe by Cook's Illustrated]
[tags]light, lower fat, cake, carrot, cinnamon, coconut, cream cheese, frosting, nutmeg pineapple[/tags]