vegan carrot ginger loaf cake


You know that feeling you get when a craving hits you so suddenly out of nowhere? It's a mix of "Where did that come from?" and "I need to have that now." Well, wherever the craving bellowed in from, you're plain out of luck if it's something you had months ago, even years ago, which has definitely happened to me before. What then? You can't just conjure up a perfectly fried dumpling you once had on a freezing cold side street in New York City. And if you can, give me a call.

But this time my craving was much more, well, acute: a carrot-ginger loaf cake from Boxcar Coffee Roasters on Pearl Street. Whatever they're doing in that kitchen over there, it's magical. If you told me this thing was baked by tiny dancing elves, I'd have no trouble believing you. I would just wonder how they stirred the bowl being so small, but my imagination can fill in that it was a solid team effort.

I only got my hands on one of these beauties sometime last fall. It was a piece of perfect. I don't know how else to describe it. Not overwhelmingly ginger-y or carrot-y and a pleasant surprise guest to the overload of other orange-colored stuff (pumpkin, pumpkin, everywhere you look) on display that time of year.

So imagine my surprise when I'm standing barefoot and wearing shorts in my kitchen on a surprisingly warm early March Sunday when my brain/stomach (I have reason to believe they are conjoined at the hip; not mine, theirs) bellowed: CAAAARROTTTTT GINGGGGER CAAAAKE. In that exact voice, I swear. You know the one I'm talking about.

Anyway, I answered the call, I always do. And while this didn't 100% come out as an exact replica of what I remember, it was still pretty amazing as it's own carrot-ginger entity. Which is the pure bonus of trying to recreate a recipe you really like. It's either exactly what you had in mind or it's a new win all on its own.

For this recipe, you'll need:

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups carrots, shredded (as fine as possible!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon carrot purée**
1/4 cup + 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped (optional, but, come on)

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped

**Carrot purée, you say? Here's how I did it: I roasted three large-ish carrots for about 45 minutes in a 400-degree oven and threw them in a blender with a bit of unsweetened almond milk and blended until smooth. Sound complicated? Yeah, I know. I was just trying to stay true to the carrot. You could sub this purée with something more easily found in your grocery store like pumpkin, butternut or sweet potato. You could also try applesauce. Or you could make your own purée and save the extra for risotto for dinner. Either way, it's a good idea.

Oh, and the glaze is a totally if-you-feel-like-it addition. The original cake I was trying to duplicate didn't have it (oops) but it does add a little extra something.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together your shredded carrots, brown sugar, carrot purée, and olive oil. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Gradually add your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients, folding together with each addition.

Transfer your batter to your prepared pan, scattering in your candied ginger throughout as you pour. Transfer to your oven for 50-60 minutes or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and/or a toothpick comes out clean.

Place on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes before flipping the cake out of the pan. If you plan on using the glaze (just whisk all the ingredients except the candied ginger together in a small bowl), wait until the cake it completely cooled to avoid it melting all over the place. While the glaze is still fresh, sprinkle your remaining candied ginger on top.

I'm pretty sure I already overdid it on emphasizing just how good this is, but seriously: so good. It's not the same as the one from Boxcar, but it was still amazing. Next I'll have to try to veganize an amazing sticky bun I had there recently. But that's another day.

There's more than one way to cut a carrot: