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I’ve been baking for the office lately and every time I do, there always one guy who NEVER eats what I bring. Now I know why! I just found out he’s lactose intolerant (but is fine with eggs)! So now I’m determined to make a super delicious dessert, namely a moreish carrot cake with a non-dairy coconut cream frosting (from the blog Elana’s Pantry – elanaspantry.com). Yum! For the recipe, I decided to go with one I know will withstand all tests – Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for carrot cake.

About the frosting–honestly, this cake doesn’t need it. It’s luscious and decadent without it. Next time, I’ll just make the cake.

Bill’s Big Carrot Cake with Vegan Coconut Cream Frosting (adapted from a Dorie Greenspan recipe and Elana’s Pantry recipe)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp salt

3 cups grated carrots

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

1/2 cup moist, plump raisins or cranberries

1 handful dates, finely chopped

2 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

COCONUT CREAM FROSTING

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup honey (or agave nectar)

a pinch of salt

5 tsp cornstarch

1 tbsp water

1 1/4 cups coconut oil

DIRECTIONS

1. Getting ready: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9 x 2 inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

2. To make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.

3. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. 

4. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

6. To make the frosting: In a medium saucepan, heat coconut milk, agave and salt, simmer for 10 minutes.

7. In a small bowl, combine arrowroot and water to form a smooth paste. Pour arrowroot mixture into saucepan. 

8. Mix contents of saucepan with a hand blender and bring to a boil, briefly. Remove pot from heat and very gradually blend in coconut oil. Place pot in freezer for 20 to 30 or 30 to 40 minutes, until frosting solidifies and turns white. 

9. Remove from freezer and blend again, until fluffy. 

10. To assemble the cake: Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top and the sides of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.

11. Serving: This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while its good plain, its even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.

12. Storing: The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when its firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

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