The healthy carrot cake is one of those desserts offering a sneaky way to encourage kids to eat vegetables! Ok, it still counts as vegetable intake even if you don’t freshly steam or cook it. According to Vanessa Greenwood from The Irish Times, some carrot cakes can be called ‘health food’. In the early 1900s, the British consumed diets revolving entirely around carrots, including plenty of carrot cakes! What else can we learn about this popular cake?
In the Middle Ages, sugar was expensive and hard to find. Thus, the carrot was included in various recipes because of its natural sweetness. The carrot cake, as we know it today, descended from Medieval carrot pudding. I know, it may be hard to imagine. In these days, the pudding was a savoury accompaniment including meat and breadcrumbs. There are numerous mentions from as far back as the 15th century describing carrot puddings with cream, eggs, raisins, dates, and spices.
There’s also talk of a carrot pie, similar to the pumpkin pie that we enjoy every fall. Close your eyes and think harder! Grated carrot batter with juicy raisins, crushed walnuts, and pecans are all valuable ingredients in our modern carrot cakes. Of course, you need to decorate all layers with that unmistakable and irresistible cream cheese frosting. Now, you can open your mind to all the beta carotene possibilities!
One of the most interesting things we found when researching the carrot cake is that it’s popular for celebrating a child’s birthday in Switzerland! This is in contrast to our North American birthday parties which generally include the decadent fudgy chocolate cake. Does this mean we should be slipping grated zucchini into our chocolate cakes in an effort to boost the vegetable consumption of our own little ones?
More good news to come from Switzerland for those with dietary requirements is the aargauer rüeblitorte – their classic carrot cake! Like many traditional Swiss desserts, it’s naturally gluten-free and often made dairy-free as well. In place of flour, you’ll find finely ground almonds instead. They do skip the raisins and crushed walnuts, but rest assured, they still include spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. What’s more, some versions come with cream cheese frosting and little marzipan carrots. Though typically we see a citrus glaze.
Does all this healthy carrot cake talk have you feeling slightly peckish? There are some local bakeries serving carrot cake for you. Remember, it’s kind of healthy because it has carrots.