I have a sunflower bundt cake pan that I have rarely used, but I had the perfect occasion... My mom's birthday! :) I decided to make her favorite... Carrot cake! I even made my own frosting (I like to call it "Cheesy Frosting")! And I decorated the cake to look more like a daisy, since they are her favorite flowers. As usual, I found a recipe online, then adjusted it based on what I had available and what I wanted to add/take away from it. Some carrot cakes call for nuts and raisins, and I didn't want to add those to this cake. Also, I wanted to add pineapple since I had some on hand, and I wanted to substitute some of the flour with whole wheat flour. So, here's what I came up with... It turned out very moist and delicious! My mom (and my son) LOVED it! :)
for the cake--
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup applesauce*
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 pound carrots, grated
1/2 cup pineapple, crushed or chopped
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour sunflower cake pan, or 2 (8-inch) round cake pans.
Beat sugar, oil, eggs, and applesauce together until combined using an electric mixer with paddle attachment. Add the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Fold in the carrots and pineapple, mix well.
Pour batter in sunflower cake pan, or divide equally between 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes*, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Decorate as desired with frosting (see recipe below).
*Note: The use of the applesauce cuts the amount of oil in the recipe in half. I used my stash of homemade applesauce. If you use store-bought applesauce, it might have added sugar, so you may need to decrease the amount of sugar in your recipe. My sunflower cake pan is a darker color, and per the Nordicware website, I was told to decrease the temperature by 25 degrees. I ended up baking it for 1 hour and 25 minutes! This might have also been because it was one big 10-cup capacity cake pan.. so it may take less time if you have the temp at 350 F and use 2 smaller cake pans... :)
for the Cheesy Frosting--
15 oz ricotta cheese (you can use part-skim)
1/2 cup cheesecake flavor cream cheese* (regular or neufchatel should be fine too)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
Blend cheeses and butter together until smooth. Add sugar, honey, milk, orange juice and vanilla until combined. Fold in orange zest. After I piped the white frosting, I used a little yellow food coloring to make the inside of the "daisy" yellow. I piped the petal frosting using a #16 tip, and the inside "dots" using a #2 tip. I also had some extra orange zest that I added to the inside of the "daisy"... It kind of looks like pollen... :)
*Note: I LOVE cheesecake flavor cream cheese! It also makes a great snack spread on graham crackers... tastes just like cheesecake! So far, I have only been able to find it at Walmart, but check your local grocery store... You may have better luck than me. :)