Low-fat vs. classic: carrot cake

By Carolyn Flanagan and Kelly Loeper
Journal Staff

Whether you’re looking for something sweet to get you and your housemates through exams or to bring home to your family for the holidays, carrot cake is an easy and delicious dessert for the season.

As there are so many different recipes out there, we decided to try two variations: one with more traditional ingredients and another with healthier substitutions.

Classic version


• 4 eggs

• 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

• 2 cups white sugar

• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 2 teaspoons baking soda

• 2 teaspoons baking powder

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

• 3 cups grated carrots

• 1 cup chopped pecans

For the cream cheese frosting:

• 1/2 cup butter, softened

• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened

• 4 cups confectioners' sugar

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9" x 13" inch pan.

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and two teaspoons of vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

To make frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and one teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pecans. Frost the cooled cake.

Source: allrecipes.com

Low-fat version


• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

• 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

• 1 cup granulated sugar

• 1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut

• 2 tsp baking soda

• 1 tsp salt

• 2 tsp ground cinnamon

• 2 tbsp canola oil

• 2 large eggs

• 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

• 2 cups grated carrots, peeled

• 20 oz. can crushed pineapple in juice, drained

• 1/4 cup chopped walnuts plus 1/4 cup for topping

For the cream cheese frosting:

• 1 cup powdered sugar

• 1 tsp vanilla extract

• 1 cup low fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese


Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, coconut, baking soda, salt and spices. Stir well with a whisk.

In a medium bowl, combine oil, eggs and vanilla. Stir well. Add grated carrots and pineapple. Fold wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. Batter will be stiff and dry but keep folding it and it will all come together. Fold in 1/4 cup chopped nuts.

Spoon batter into an 8" x 3" cake pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 F (175 C) for about 40 to 50 minutes, depending on pan size or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and cake is pulling away from sides of pan. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.

To prepare frosting, beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cake. Garnish with remaining chopped walnuts.

Source: skinnytaste.com

Taste test

After tasting both versions, our fellow Journal staffers could all distinguish between which version was more traditional and which contained lower fat ingredients.

The traditional version tasted richer and the frosting was sweeter. The low-fat version tasted lighter, most likely due to the substitution of pineapple juice for oil. Although different, both versions were successful.

Playing around with substitutions is a great way to cater recipes to different tastes and preferences; experimenting in the kitchen also makes for a great study break!

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