I’ve been on the go a lot lately for races, and this usually means feeling just a little bit off of my game. It’s unavoidable really — one literally cannot keep their same routines when on the road. First of all, I don’t have my favorite blue coffee mug. I can’t pad downstairs and turn on the coffee maker in the dark….padding into the bathroom of my hotel room to make coffee is not the same. Everyone loves an adventure, but no one really loves using their favorite lotion sparingly from a tiny bottle because they’re worried that they’ll run out before they get back home, do they? And wearing the same pair of jeans and the same t-shirt that MIGHT smell like the restaurant that you ate in last night – who loves that?
So, there are certain little treats that I give myself to make these times away from home more fun to look forward to. In addition to reading this and this of late, getting a cappuccino from the outpost in the airport, and tucking into a couple of slices of carrot cake for breakfast are among my recent favorites.
This recipe sprang from the desire to have a variety of things to snack on as the girls and I rode the Rapha Women’s Prestige a couple of weekends ago – we were worried we’d get tired of an almond + blueberry version of these and so this seemed like an interesting experiment. As you would imagine, there are a few special things about this particular cake that prevent it from being the sugar/fat bomb that literally would have had us bouncing off of our bikes and then crashing at the red feet of the Golden Gate Bridge at mile 120. By using whole grains, crisp spring carrots, bananas and dates instead of refined sugar, and by coconut manna (or coconut butter as it is occasionally referred to) as a healthy fat, you get a stand up cake that can withstand a cycling jersey pocket, or carry on bag without ever being dry and is certainly a better option than the continental breakfast muffins you’ll have for sale a dime a dozen during your journey.
As for the cream cheese frosting, for those of you that like to point fingers, you probably enjoy even a tiny bit of cream cheese on your bagels so just stop harassing. I have enjoyed the cake both with the frosting, and without, sometimes opting for almond butter instead.
A couple of things to note about this breakfast cake: I don’t like to add the usual raisins, coconut slivers, pineapple, etc that usually characterizes more traditional carrot cakes, but you could always make additions. If you wanted to make the cake vegan, you could substitute cultured coconut milk for the yogurt, and use egg replacer or flax + water (1 Tbsp flax + 2 Tbsp of water for each egg you’re replacing.) The cake still stands right up, like a little breakfast dream.
Tomorrow morning, I’m off to Washington D.C. to run the first annual Nike Women’s Half-Marathon and fly the Luna Bar colors high, and will have a couple of these slices tucked into my pockets. Where are you headed this weekend? And what will YOUR carrot cake fuel?
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 4 ounces coconut butter/coconut manna, just warmed
- 1/2 cup dried dates, seeded and finely chopped into a paste
- 3 ripe bananas (1 1/4 cups), mashed well
- 1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3 medium)
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or 2%)
- 2 eggs, lightly whisked
- 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Lightly grease a 9x5x2 loaf pan (preferably with coconut oil) and line with parchment. Set aside.
- Next, in a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and walnuts. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the date paste with the warm coconut manna, being sure to separate any little date clusters that are sticking together in the mixture. Once you have a nicely mixed coconut/date paste, add the mashed banana, carrots, yogurt and eggs. Mix until you cannot see any large chunks of banana, and the carrots are evenly distributed.
- In three stages, add the dry ingredients to the coconut/carrot/banana mixture, using a wooden spoon or spatula. Mix each dry ingredient addition in completely before adding the next, ensuring that no dry spots remain. (You could also do this in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.) Once all of the dry ingredients are nicely incorporated, transfer the cake mixture to the loaf pan.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- Meanwhile mix together the cream cheese and maple syrup and ice the cake. Allow the frosting to set a bit before wrapping up slices for transport and ENJOY!