Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Subject of Luck

It always bewilders people when I tell them I hate math and chemistry when they know I love to bake. I've always been somewhat amused by it myself, as well as by the fact that I am very perfectionistic in other aspects of my life like spelling, grammar and organization of things in "my space" (as well as my obsession with symmetry and within the past 10 years, the development of obsessive-compulsive disorder. But thats not the point.). I was never "good" at the sciences besides biology, and detested math even though I was actually pretty decent at it. I just found both subjects boring! There were too many hard-and-fast rules about what had to be done, and what the end results had to be. I became a bit of an annoyance to my teachers, I think, by asking why, and if there was ever a case where it didn't fit the mould. I didn't care that it wasn't in the textbook. I wanted to know!

But wait, I hear the die-hard bakers out there calling, baking is the same thing! There are formulas and ratios and specific things that have to get done for a good end product! Well, yes and no. There are wet / dry ratios in baking, but as long as you get those basic numbers down, get a binder or two in there, and some leavening in most cases, you can usually get away with anything else. I was on a mission to find a use for both my jar of boozy cranberry sauce and a bag of shredded carrots I had lurking in the freezer, and came across an awesome looking cake on King Arthur Flour. However, it used three eggs, half a cup of oil and a whole cup of sugar. Was it possible to make it without eggs, and with healthier fats and more fibre?  

Well, I figured I didn't have much to lose. The sauce and carrots weren't going to be eaten any other way, and I had all the rest of the stuff kicking around the pantry waiting to be used. Throwing any sort of conventional baking lore to the wind and relying on my instincts instead, I soon had the batter in the oven and baking away.

So voila - a cake made without a whit of mathematical or scientific doctrine. Vegan (if you leave out the cinnamon chips), the cake packed in a whack of flavours that wouldn't otherwise find themselves in an ordinary carrot cake. The best part was that I didn't need to slather it in frosting, since it was so moist - but I couldn't resist a little bit of cream cheese frosting piped into wiggly carrots for flair!

Double - Cranberry Carrot Cake
Makes 12 (generous) slices
1/4 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ener-G egg replacer powder
1/3 cup cold water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 cups whole-berry cranberry sauce, divided
1 tbsp vanilla
2 cups shredded carrots
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup cinnamon chips (not vegan, so optional - but good!)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup ground walnuts
1/4 cup whole flaxseed
1/4 cup ground pecans
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-cup bundt-style or tube pan.
  2. In a small dish, whisk together the flaxseed and hot water. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the flours, oats, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg replacer powder and cold water until smooth, then beat in sugars, flaxseed mixture, oils, 1 1/3 cups of cranberry sauce and vanilla.
  5. Add the dry ingredients, mixing well.
  6. Fold in the carrots, cranberries, cinnamon chips, walnuts, flaxseed and pecans.
  7. Pour into the pan and dollop remaining cranberry sauce on top of the batter.
  8. Use a knife or chopstick to swirl the sauce into the batter.
  9. Bake 50 to 55 minutes, until it tests done.
  10. Cool completely on a rack before turning out.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 395.8
Total Fat: 16.9 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 74.5 mg
Total Carbs: 60.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.1 g
Protein: 6.4 g


  1. Cake looks & sounds great!

    Also: people who believe baking (or cooking) to be math & science don't get it. They don't make phenomenal bakers (or cooks) because they don't understand that recipes are guidelines, mostly.

    Now, if you're doing industrial baking, you have to understand about hydration & all of that stuff, but who goes there? Certainly not most bakers / cooks.

  2. Ooh, looks yummy!

    Thanks for the add on Food Buzz! Love meeting new foodie blog friends! All the best!


Thanks for the feedback!