Fact: I don’t love cake. Before you get cheeky with me, let me elaborate. I don’t love overly sweet, heavily frosted cakes. The perfect example, Birthday Cake. When I was a little girl, my Aunt would bake her “infamous” white cake with chocolate frosting. Year after year, I would scrape off every last bit of the ghastly frosting and sneak it to my Grandpa. Every year, without fail. I used to believe the only reason cakes had so much frosting was to hide how bloody awful and dry the cake actually was. Maybe I still do believe that… When I became an adult, I began to stand my ground over my cake preferences, or rather, my dislikes.
One year I asked for Mincemeat pie. I figured since my Birthday was only a week after Christmas, people would still be in the festive spirits and eat
just one more slice of pie. Note: I will have to tell you the story about my great affection for Mincemeat one day soon. For another Birthday, I declared I wanted Carrot Cake and I hadn’t a care in the world if people thought it was too early. Generally, growing up, Carrot Cake was reserved for Easter. Since then, that cake has made many appearances on my Birthday.
If you don’t fancy history facts, then by all means skip ahead. If you’re a tad bit (ok, a lot) of a history geek as myself, then maybe you will find the following interesting. Carrot Cake was traditionally a pudding (called a cake since it was a solid pudding) throughout Great Britain during the Middle Ages. The carrots were used to sweeten dishes as a substitute for pricey imported dried fruits. Refined sugar was a rather rare and expensive commodity. Carrot Cake was revived again during WWI due to the rationing, where it took on more of dense spongecake transformation.
Since I’d no real reason to bake an entire carrot cake, I decided upon a rather pleasing Carrot Cake Tea Bread. Not overly sweet or oily, and boasting in an array of spices, I think this tea bread is a true winner. To make it healthier whole grain gluten free flours were used. A great choice for anyone with celiac disease or those trying to stay away from gluten. To make it strictly paleo/grain free you could use all almond flour if you fancy. Honey is the only sweetener and heart healthy olive oil adds just the right amount of moisture. If you are highly fond of the American style Carrot Cake that’s heavily slathered with cream cheese frosting, where there is more frosting than actual cake, then this might not be for you (but I do beg you to at least give it a try). See my unappealing issue with frosting above. Although the cake (or tea bread, whatever you fancy calling it) is delightful on it’s own, I decided to smear the top with a very light cream cheese icing. There’s no butter, but it’s pillowy light texture pairs very well with a fragrant slice of this cake and cup of tea.
Healthier Carrot Cake Tea Bread
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 2 cups shredded carrots (preferably fresh, not the packaged sort)
- 1 cup gluten free flour
- 1 cup blanched almond flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp each nutmeg, ground ginger and allspice
- 8 ounces light cream cheese
- 2 tbsp cup milk (I used coconut)
- 2 tbsp honey
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 2-lb loaf pan with parchment paper for easy removal.
- In a large bowl, mix together the oil and honey. Add the eggs, vanilla, orange juice and vinegar, mixing well.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour, spices, baking powder and soda.
- Using a large wooden spoon, fold the dry and wet ingredients together, mixing just until moist. Do not overmix. Clumpy is perfect.
- Fold in the shredded carrots.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes or until springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. I tented the cake bread with aluminum foil the last 20 minutes to prevent excess browning.
- Remove the oven and let rest in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
When tea bread is fully cooled, make the icing. Using electric beaters, mix together the cream cheese, milk and honey until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spread over the top and slice.