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A Wine Lover’s Carrot Cake

Apr 19, 2019

The best part about being in the food and wine business is that you’re always exposed to fun, & unique and high-quality products made by creative folks who are just as passionate about this business as I am.

One of these products and companies is Royal Grapeseed, who makes grape seeds, skin, oil, extract and powder with the highest possible polyphenol content because they are 100% pure, U.S. grown Concord grape seeds that have come from family farms and have been fresh dried within 24 hours, with no sulfites.

Mivine, a 100% pure, unrefined, cold-pressed grapeseed oil made from grapes grown in the Finger Lakes region of New York.  I was fortunate enough to be introduced to this product through my client Vegan Wines, who brought it to me after attending the Natural Products Expo West in southern California last month.

I’m a huge fan of using local ingredients and supporting local businesses, and lucky for me, the Finger Lakes is only a short 3-4 hours north of where I live. I chose to try this oil in my famous carrot cake, and I was happy enough with the results that I wanted to share it in this blog post.  I am very discerning with what oils I use, as there are a lot of crappy versions out on the market, whether it is from olives, coconut, or vegetables. Being in the wine industry, I get exposed to a ton of amazingly fruity, flavorful and well- made olive oils that are made by winemakers and olive tree growers around the world, but I had yet to taste such a unique oil from a local source.

I wanted to showcase the oil in a way that would honor the quality and thoughtfulness put into this product, and could think of nothing better than a festive cake. I was inspired by Easter, which is a big deal in my home country of Norway. I’m always homesick this time of year, so I wanted to make something that could transport me right back to the fjords and mountains of my home region of Sunnmøre.

Easter is a time when Norwegians take some extended time off work and spend time with family and friends. Often they travel to the mountains to their cabins and enjoy skiing, sunbathing and reading crime novels (yes, it’s a thing) and doing crossword puzzles. Food plays a big part in the festivities of course, and being from northwestern Norway, we have a huge cake culture.

While I appreciate the tremendous diversity and creativity around all the different cakes Norwegians make, I’m not a massive cake eater, and neither is my husband, so there are only a few I make regularly. Carrot cake being one. It is simply impossible not to love the juiciness of this cake with its depth of flavor coming from the various spices and the “health” aspect of the shredded carrots.

I used Violife’s vegan cream cheese in this frosting if you can find that brand I highly recommend it, as it’s the best one on the market. Kite Hill’s cream cheese is also decent. Otherwise, it’s quite possible to make your own from soaked cashews and a little coconut oil and yogurt, you can find several recipes online.

Adding the Mivine grapeseed oil to the recipe definitely added richness to it, and I combined it with some regular canola oil, but you can add coconut or a mild olive oil too if you prefer. Royal Grapeseed also makes a grape seed flour made from 100% premium grape seeds, rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals which can also be added into baked goods such as this cake.

Other uses for this wonderful grapeseed oil are in dressings, as a finishing oil or a nutrient boost in smoothies as well as using them in other baked goods such as brownies or sautéing pancakes with it. The oil is super pure and quite pungent, so incorporating it into traditional recipes at 5-10% is recommended, but feel free to use your own judgment here!

WINE LOVER’S CARROT CAKE

2 ½ cups (12 1/2 oz or 350 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grate nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
1 lb (5-6 medium or 1/2 kg) carrots, peeled
½  (1.25 dl) cups light-brown sugar
1 ½ cups (3.5 dl) granulated organic sugar
3 tbsp ground flaxseeds mixed with 9 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup (1.25 dl) Mivine grapeseed oil (or sub other neutral vegetable oil)
½ cup (1.25 dl) other vegetable or coconut oil of your choice

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 x 7 oz (200 g) container of vegan cream cheese (I used Violife)
5 tbsp vegan butter, softened but still cool
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups (5-7 dl) confectioner’s sugar
Walnuts, toasted, for garnish (optional)
Lemon zest, for garnish (optional)

For the Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit (180° Celsius) and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Grease and line 2 x 7-inch cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.

Mix the ground flaxseed with the water in a small bowl and let sit and swell for about 10 minutes

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl, and set
aside.

In a food processor fitted with a shredding disk, shred the carrots (you should have about 3 cups), add the carrots to the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together add the oil, sugars, flax eggs and vanilla extract. Pour into the dry ingredients with the carrots. Let sit for about 5 minutes, allowing the carrots to seep out some of its juices. If it seems too dry, you can add a couple of tablespoons of plant-based milk, but only if you think it’s really dry.

Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean/dry. Rest the cakes on a cooling rack to room temperature, about 2 hours.

For the Frosting:

Add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and lemon juice in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and process until smooth.

Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar until you have a consistency you are happy with (the amount of sugar can vary).

Carefully lift out the cakes from the pans and place the first cake on your serving tray with the flattest side up. Using an offset spatula, spread half the frosting evenly on top, then carefully place the second cake on top, and spread the remaining frosting on. Garnish with the optional toasted walnuts and lemon zest.

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