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Lower Fat Carrot Sheet Cake

Lower Fat Carrot Sheet Cake

I don’t cook much from food magazines, and when I do, it’s usually from an older issue that I found behind the bookcase and flipped through, rather than one that just arrived in the mail. My thought process tends to be along the lines of “oh, that looks good. I’ll have to remember that and try it later.” For once, however, a dish I intended to make managed to align itself with a recipe from the most recent (April 09) issue of Cook’s Country: carrot cake. With a bag of fresh carrots in the refrigerator, I didn’t waste much time trying out their recipe for a lower fat carrot cake.

My usual carrot cake recipes don’t actually have much more fat than this one, as I prefer a cake-like carrot cake and not a dense/wet one, but this is “reduced” from those oil-heavy recipes, so I’ll let the lower fat label stand. The main difference between what I usually make and this recipe is that this one uses oil, not butter, as the fat. That said, I did make a few changes to the recipe as I prepared it.

Most of my changes had to do with the spicing. I decided to omit some of the more “traditional” carrot cake spices and use cinnamon and cardamom for a spicy flavor that was a little bit different. I also used applesauce where the recipe called for carrot baby food. Apparently, the testers felt that applesauce didn’t contribute enough carrot flavor to a cake, even though the cake has an entire pound of shredded carrots in it. I’ve never had a carrot cake that really tastes like a carrot (or a sweet zucchini bread that really tastes like a zucchini, either), and since unsweetened applesauce performed perfectly in the cake, I don’t really feel like I missed out.

The cake was delicious. I loved the twist that cardamom provided to the overall flavor. The sweetness of the brown sugar really came through and fit the carrot cake well. It was moist, but not wet, and had a soft, tender crumb to it. I didn’t bake this in a carrot cake pan; I used your standard 9×13-inch pan. Since it’s a sheet cake, it will serve quite a crowd. If you’re not entertaining, however, the cake will keep well for several days in in airtight container (plastic wrap over the pan is fine) as you eat your way through it.

Lower Fat Carrot Sheet Cake
(Adapted from Cook’s Country)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 cup brown sugar (pref. dark)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4-oz (approx. 1/3 cup) unsweetened applesauce
1-lb carrots, peeled and shredded (4-5 cups)

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-in baking pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, eggs, vegetable oil and applesauce until very smooth. Stir in flour mixture and mix only until just combined, with no streaks of flour remaining. Stir in shredded carrots.
Pour batter into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
Bake for 25-28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Cool cake on wire rack (cake can be cooled in the pan or turned out; I cooled in the pan).
Frost top of cake (not sides) once it is completely cooled.

Serves 20

Lower Fat Cream Cheese Frosting
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy. Spread on cooled cake.

(Note: Without the frosting, this cake has about 6 grams of fat per serving. With the frosting, it has about 10 grams of fat. If you use reduced fat Neufchatel cream cheese in the frosting, each serving has about 8.75 g fat. And yes, the frosting is worth it.)

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  • Trish
    March 9, 2009

    Hey…I preposted a very very similar recipe from another recipe book this week…for Wednesday if I am not mistaken. Cool…we must be on the same wave length. As this is my low fat week…or at least most of the posts….grin….come on over sometime and take a peek. By the way, do you know what the actual fat content is in this recipe?

  • Nicole
    March 9, 2009

    Trish – Sure! Without frosting, the cake has about 6 grams of fat per slice. I got more servings than the magazine did with my cake. The frosting adds more fat in, of course, but you can probably use reduced fat cream cheese to help a bit there.

  • Dani
    March 9, 2009

    applesauce??? i usually just use shredded pineapple….. either way, carrot cake is an old fave 🙂

  • Garage Doors Houston
    March 9, 2009

    Wow, thanks a lot!
    My grandma used to make amazing carrot cakes, after reading this articles I guess I should try to make one myself 🙂

    Thanks for the healthy recipe!

  • Elyse
    March 9, 2009

    Ha, a pound of carrots, and they still wanted to use carrot baby food? I think you were totally right to use applesauce. This cake looks absolutely delicious!! I can’t wait to try it for myself. Yum!

  • LilSis
    March 9, 2009

    After the way you describe this carrot cake, who wouldn’t want to try it? Thanks! I wish I could have a piece right now!!

  • Christy in OH
    March 10, 2009

    I love carrot cake! Its one of my fav’s.(cream cheese frosting too!) I’ll have to try this.

  • nintendo dsi
    March 10, 2009

    Carrot cake rules, thank you for this recipe, I don’t need it light though! lol I always find anything, light or low fat normally doesn’t taste as good.

  • Jodye
    March 11, 2009

    I’m always a sucker for carrot cake, and yours look absolutely delicious!

  • avecgourmandise
    March 12, 2009

    This is the second recipe I tried from your blog. This cake is delicious, and it will replace the one I’ve been using for years and year.

  • Steph
    March 17, 2009

    I tested this recipe for Cooks Country, and my family loved it. I’m not a low-fat baker at all, and actually on a high protein, high salt diet! This was as moist as any other carrot cake I’ve made, I think the baby food–in your case applesauce–really helps with that.

    And the frosting is awesome! The only change I may make in the future is to add some nuts. Thanks for sharing this recipe, I love the CC!

  • Orlando
    April 3, 2009

    This sounds and looks so wonderfully decadent, I am salavating just thinking about it.

  • jules
    April 8, 2009

    Yum! I made this a few days ago fora BBQ and it was such a hit. I like carrot cake without nuts. I didn’t have any cardamom so I just left it out.

  • Hi, nice post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for posting. I will certainly be coming back to your blog.

  • lisa
    July 1, 2010

    could this recipe be used as a cupcake/muffin?

  • […] definitely glad to see this lower fat carrot sheet cake recipe from Baking Bites! All too often carrot cake with its delicious coating of cream cheese frosting is […]

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