As winter finishes itself off, we often find ourselves with a few remnants of winter eating lingering in the back of the refrigerator: hardy, woody carrots, soft and wrinkled apples. We didn't want to waste these last, sweet bites of winter. They are perfect for baking, and we shredded and diced them into a moist, tender cake that is deceptively whole-grain and not too sweet and not too rich. It's a treat, for sure, but it's all full of good things.
This is a recipe adapted from one of our favorite cookbooks: More-With-Less Cookbook, a 25-year-old classic of frugal, modest, and whole-grain cooking. We grew up with the recipes in this book, and the oatmeal cake was a perennial favorite. It is incredibly moist yet light, with a broiled coconut topping that turns all hot and jammy in the oven.
We tweaked this recipe quite a bit, adjusting amounts here and there, but hopefully remaining true to the spirit of the original. It's just a little fuller and more fruity, with lots of bright carrots and sweet apples, and coconut too. If you're feeling festive, top the whole thing with candied carrot sprinkles like these:
• Candied Carrot Sprinkles at Cupcake Blog
Apple Carrot Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Coconut Topping and Molasses Cream Cheese Icing
1 4-layer cake
1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups boiling water
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon rum (optional)
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
4 medium carrots, peeled and grated (about two cups)
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup chopped and toasted walnuts (optional)
Heat the oven to 350°F. Line four 9" round cake pans with parchment and grease lightly. (See how to quickly line cake pans with parchment.)
Combine the oats and boiling water and set aside while you beat the sugar and butter. Cream the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth, then add the eggs one by one. Beat until smooth and whipped. Beat in the vanilla and rum, then beat in the thickened oatmeal and liquid.
Combine the dry ingredients and beat well. With a rubber spatula, stir in the apples, carrots, and walnuts. Pour into the cake pans and bake 40 minutes, or until the tops are golden and spring back lightly. Let the cakes cool for about 10 minutes and then run a knife around the side of the pan and carefully pat out the cakes on wire racks. The cakes will be quite tender and delicate; they break easily.
Make the icing while the cake bakes.
1 cup whipping cream
2 8-ounce packages plain cream cheese, very soft
1/3 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups powdered sugar
Beat the whipping cream until it holds soft peaks. Add the cream cheese, one chunk at a time, and whip until fully incorporated. Add the molasses, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg. Beat in the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add more if you want the frosting stiffer (this one here was pretty soft). Set aside and refrigerate for an hour while the cake bakes and cools.
When the cake is cool, ice each layer and stack them, reserving the fourth and final top layer. Lightly ice this layer, then top with:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 cup unsweetened coconut
Heat the oven to broil. Stir all ingredients together by hand until smooth. Spread on the top layer of the cake and broil until brown and slightly bubbly.
Put top layer on the cake and finish smoothing frosting out the over the whole cake. Serve and enjoy!
(Images: Faith Durand)