This week I was asked to make a wedding cake, from the groom’s mother’s carrot cake recipe. I was honoured to take the job.
The carrot cake recipe I was given harks back to the 70’s, with shredded carrot, some crushed pineapple, and a LOT of oil. I made a test cake and, sure enough, it tasted just like the carrot cakes I remember from back in the day. Unfortunately the very moist texture of the cake meant that when I tried to layer it, it wanted to collapse in on itself.
I don’t usually like messing with the classics. Recipes that have been around for 40 years have lasted for a reason. People like them just the way they are. If the wedding cake was to be constructed though, changes had to be made.
During the first low fat fad that followed hippie-dom’s hey day, a number of cookbooks were written to address oil-laden recipes like carrot cake. Although I don’t like many of the recipes from those books, one thing that stuck with me was the suggestion that you can substitute applesauce for vegetable oil. Applesauce is one of the few ingredients that can replicate the mouth-feel that oil provides.
With substitution in mind, I set to work and—after several tries—arrived at a recipe. I ended up substituting applesauce for 2/3 of the oil called for in the original recipe, and baking the cake for a longer time at a lower temperature. So far it’s working out pretty well. The texture will work for my wedding cake construction. More importantly, the cake tastes close enough to the original recipe to please the groom.
I guess you can mess with the classics from time to time after all.