Carrot cake bars. Moist and fluffy. These bars get their moistness from the grated carrots. Each bar is stuffed with plump raisins and crunchy walnuts. Finally, you can’t make a good carrot cake without cream cheese frosting.
After quite a few vegan recipes, I thought it was time for some “normal” baking again. So for my boyfriend’s birthday a few weeks ago, I decided to make carrot cake. Because I was short on time, I went for bars rather than a cake. Bars are so convenient because:
- Take less time to bake than most cakes
- Need little to no decorating skills
- Are easier to transport
I’m happy to say my bf’s co-workers loved these bars. Well, most of them anyway: Some were scared these bars would taste like carrots. But I promise you, carrot cake bars taste nothing like carrots. The carrots only provide moisture and no flavor at all. All the flavor comes from the spices, raisins and chopped walnuts. Trust me, carrot cake bars are a must try!
Grated carrot shortcuts?
If you’re short on time, you can use a bag of peeled carrots from the supermarket to save some time. I usually use peeled baby carrots because I usually have those in the fridge (they make a great healthy snack). However, I don’t recommend to use pre-grated carrots. Because pre-grated carrots tend to turn dry in the packaging, the grated carrots might not contain enough water to make this cake moist. Freshly grated carrots is the key to these moist carrot cake bars.
Carrot cake bar spice mixture
As I mentioned above, these carrot cake bars get their flavor mostly from spices. For my carrot cake, I like to use a mixture of cinnamon, ginger and cloves. These three spices compliment each other perfectly. However, should you miss ground ginger or ground cloves in your pantry: don’t panick! Feel free to make these bars without ginger or cloves. Cinnamon is essential though.
What about the frosting?
Finally, what’s a carrot cake bar without cream cheese frosting? Exactly. Boring. To make the frosting all you need is cream cheese, butter, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar. Make sure your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature so you can beat it light and fluffy. If either component is too cold, it will be too hard to beat into a frosting. As for the confectioner’s sugar, I always add it gradually when making frosting. In addition, I add it to taste rather than weight because most frosting recipes are way too sweet for me.
- 80 g raisins
- 100-200 mL boiling water (for soaking the raisins)
- 300 g all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp salt
- 300 g brown sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 300 mL vegetable oil
- 45 mL skim milk
- 300 g freshly grated carrots
- 100 g walnuts, roughly chopped (+extra for decorating)
- 100 g cream cheese, room temperature
- 40 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 150-200 g confectioner's sugar
- Preheat the oven to 170C and line a square baking pan of 25cm x 25cm with baking paper. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix the raisins and boiling water. Let the raisins soak for at least 15 minutes. Then drain and set aside.
- While the raisins are soaking mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, mix the brown sugar, eggs and vegetable oil.
- Fold most of the flour into the batter. Leave about a tablespoon of flour mixture to mix with the drained raisins and walnuts.
- Fold in the grated carrots, raisin-walnut-flour mixture and milk.
- Pour the batter in the prepared baking pan.
- Bake the cake 25-30 minutes at 170C or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
- For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Then, mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the confectioner's sugar while beating until the frosting is sweet enough to taste.
- Spread the frosting on top of the cooled cake. Decorate the cake with some more chopped walnuts and a light dusting of cinnamon.
- Cut the cake in 16 equal sized squares and serve.