Paula Shoyer is the author of The Kosher Baker: 160 dairy-free desserts from traditional to trendy. She is a freelance writer, teaches cooking and baking classes around the country and recently appeared on Food Network’s Sweet Genius. She specializes in baking for people on special diets such as gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free. She can be found at www.paulaspastry.com and blogs at www.kosherbaker.blogspot.com and tweets @paulashoyer.
Carrot cake for me used to be like that sweater in your closet that you never wear. Every once in a while, you try it on and then take it off again. Eventually, you give it away. For decades, I sampled every carrot cake that came my way, but after one bite, I put my fork down and ultimately abandoned carrot cake altogether. When I wrote The Kosher Baker, I decided to include a carrot cake, though I had never baked one before. When I researched carrot cake recipes, I quickly learned why I never liked them: people put too much bling into them such as raisins, nuts, pineapple, and coconut to name just a few unnecessary and, in my view, pernicious ingredients.
I decided to create my own simple carrot cake that was dairy and nut free. I even added whole-wheat flour to make it healthier. For The Kosher Baker, I turned my simple carrot cake recipe into a huge layer cake with a dairy-free Cinnamon Honey Cream Cheese Icing. The icing is sinful and the iced cake is lovely for special occasions.
One winter, I taught a healthy-dinner-in-an-hour class and was searching for the right dessert. I chose the carrot cake, but omitted the icing and baked the cake in a bundt pan. During the class we ate it straight out of the oven. When my students left, my four kids ran downstairs and pounced on the carrot cake. My four chocolate lovers asked why I had never made it before. When I told them the origin, they said that this way was tastier because they could taste the carrots better. They also loved eating it warm, which makes it a comforting winter dessert. As Jessica Rabbit said in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, to make Roger feel better “Roger, let’s go home, I’ll bake you a carrot cake.”