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carrot cake (food sci question)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
hi! i'm trying to tweak a carrot cake recipe & need some help. what i have now is an extremely dense & moist cake with a texture not unlike bread pudding. what i want to achieve is an extremely moist & cakey-cake. hopefully that made sense.

formula right now:

2 C flour
2 tsp b. soda
2 tsp salt
bunch of spices
1 C brown sugar
1 C gran sugar
1/3 C oil
1/3 C buttermilk
1/3 C applesauce
4 eggs
4 C grated carrots

i'd like to keep the 4 C carrots, but since this = lots of liquid...

if i increased the flour by 1 C, nixed the applesauce & used either a 50/50 mix of buttermilk & oil, or just oil, do you think this will produce a more cake-like texture?

post #2 of 10
I would not increase the flour by that much. Try just getting rid of the apple sauce, the buttermilk should give it plenty of moisture. You may also want to try tweaking your mixing method a little. Try beating your eggs and sugar together until thick, then drizzling in your oil--kind of like making mayonnaise. Then add your moist and dry ingredients alternatively. This recipe looks very much like one I use and I do the mayo-thing. It always comes out great.
Be careful and measure your cinnamon exactly. Cinnamon can do some funny things when too much is mixed with wet ingredients-like make everything very slimey---go figure.


Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!



Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #3 of 10
I am assuming that by more cake like you want something lighter and less dense. I recommend making the following substitutions:
  • Replace the oil and apple sauce with room temperature butter.
  • Replace the 2 t baking soda with 1/4 t baking soda and 1 t baking powder.
Then mix everything in the following order:[list=1][*]Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy[*]Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.[*]Beat in the butter milk.[*]Sift the dry ingredients together.[*]Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture untill just combined.[*]Add the carrots.[/list=1]
These suggestions are based on the following:
  • If you can replace butter and oil with applesauce to make a recipe more healthy the reverse should also be true. :)
  • Butter is ~18% liquid so it will still provide some of the moisture the apple sauce was providing.
  • Creaming sugar into butter incorporates air into the butter.
  • Adding the liquid ingredients slowly creates an imulsion instead of a lumpy mess.
  • Sifting the dry ingredients incorporates air into the ingredients.
  • The more air incorporated in the recipe the more air there is to expand and lighten the cake in the oven.
  • Mixing the flour into the emulsion of fat and liquid reduces the amount of liquid that combines with the flour. This reduces the formation of gluten letting the cake rise more in the oven.
  • 1/2 t soda will neutralize 1c butter milk (From "CookWise")
  • Too much baking soda or powder will make a cake rise too high and collapse. You should have 1 t baking powder or 1/4 t baking soda per cup of flour. (From "CookWise")
If you are interested in modifying recipes I highly recommend "CookWise" by Shirley O. Corriher. Every recipe I have made has turned out perfect. She also has pages describing why everything works and how you can make modifications to get different results. For a more hard core read on food history and science the two books by Harold McGee are excelent.

I hope this helps. (One warning, this advice is not coming from a profesional chef, currently I'm just a higly interested amateur.)

post #4 of 10
Standard carrot cakes usually don't include any additional liquids such as buttermilk or applesauce. The cake usually gets its moistness from the water in the carrots, the eggs, oil, high ratio of sugars and sometimes pineapple chunks if used. The oil ratios in your recipe are relatively low for a carrot cake---yours is around 26 %(normal is around 70-75 %), so maybe that's why the applesauce is there. I would probably nix the applesauce and buttermilk and use 3/4 cup oil. I prefer oil over butter when making "veggie" cakes. As for carrots, standard recipes use about 100% -135% the weight of flour, so you'd have to weigh your 4 cups and see that it equals minimum 9 oz.- 12 oz. Lastly, I'd use 1 t. baking soda and add 2 t. baking powder.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
thanks, everybody. think i'll get rid of the applesauce & buttermilk & give it another shot this weekend. i'll post the results.

foodnfoto - i use the emulsion technique & about the cinnamon thing - heh heh heh. that happened to me. ;)
post #6 of 10
what about trying an European-style carrot cake? The recipe generally used in Italy comes from Austria/Switzerland and seems pretty different from those described here. Can't say whether the result is the same...but it's really moist and cakey and very, very yummy:)
Basically, you must substitute most wheat flour with almond flour or ground almonds. I don't have my recipe with me now, but I'll post it for you asap.

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
pongi: i would love to try this recipe! i have a nearly a pound of almond flour on hand & need to put it to use. please post when you get a chance. :)
post #8 of 10
The one worry I have about just cutting out the buttermilk and apple sauce is I'm not sure if there is anything left that is acidic enough to react with the baking soda. If you cut the buttermilk you may want to switch to all baking powder. Good luck trying it out this weekend. :) This discussion is starting to make me want carrot cake as well!

post #9 of 10
Here it is my carrot cake recipe! Hope you're familiar with grams as I cannot convert them easily in cups...


-200 grams almond flour or finely ground almonds (of course peeled in advance)
-100 gr wheat flour
-200 gr granulated sugar
-400 gr grated carrots
-3 eggs
-1 sachet baking powder (in Italy, baking powder is sold in small envelopes, so I can't exactly say how much is 1 envelope, suppose about 1 1/2 tsp)
-1 pinch of salt
-few drops vanilla extract or a pinch vanillin (artificial vanilla flavour)
-3-4 ground bitter almonds (optional, but strongly recommended)

1)Beat the egg yolks with sugar and vanilla flavour until light and fluffy.

2)Add the almond flour or ground almonds (bitter almonds included).

3)Add the grated carrots and salt.

4)Sieve together the flour and baking powder and add them to the mixture.

5)Whisk the egg whites until very firm and incorporate them carefully to the mixture.

6)Pour the mixture in the mold (buttered and coated with flour) and bake at 350°F for 50-60 mins.

7)Cool down the cake and sprinkle it with icing sugar before serving.

As you can see, there are no fats in this recipe, probably because they're substituted by the almond fat. As for bitter almonds, they're not mandatory, but give the cake a special taste...

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
thanks for posting the recipe, pongi. i can't wait to try it.

in the meantime, this formula turned out great:

2 cups all purpose flour (8 oz)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
spices & fresh ginger (still working on amts)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
1/3 cup buttermilk
4 large eggs
4 cups grated peeled carrots (12 oz)

the texture was exactly what i was looking for. now all i have to do is work on the spices.
thanks for helping, everybody!
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