Since I decided not to make a dessert cake, I reduced the amount of sugar by two-thirds and added ½ cup unsweetened applesauce to give it a little natural sweetness and to make up for the moisture that would be lost by taking the sugar out. I also reduced the amount of oil/butter as the carrots themselves contribute much of the moistness that I love about carrot cake. I felt I had the right, since I was making a bread, to sub-out the majority of all-purpose flour for whole-wheat flour. The end result completely satisfied my craving, and when a few slices were brought to work for a taste test, my coworkers heartily agreed that I had fulfilled my mission of creating a healthy carrot cake bread that tasted just as good as the cake, if not better.
"Carrot Cake" Bread
¾ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup natural applesauce
1 Tbsp. real maple syrup (optional)
1 Tbsp. plain yogurt (optional)
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisons, plumped by soaking them in hot water for five minutes (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray bread pan with nonstick spray.
Toast walnuts in a sauté pan over medium heat or on a cookie sheet in the 350 degrees oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Careful not to burn!
Sift together the first 8 ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar and eggs until well combined. Whisk in the applesauce, yogurt, maple syrup (if using), vanilla and carrots. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in 1/4 cup of the chopped walnuts.
Pour batter in to pan and, if you are not frosting the top of the bread, sprinkle the remaining two tablespoons of walnuts on top of the batter. Bake in the oven for 55-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on rack and enjoy! Maple walnut cream cheese goes great!
If you would like to frost the top of the bread try this frosting:
4 ounces 1/3 fat cream cheese (recommended: Neufchatel)
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and lemon zest until smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled bread and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts. Store in the refrigerator.