A Heart-Felt Heart-to-Heart about LA & Gluten Free Vegan Carrot Cake
As my time spent in Los Angles this summer is coming to an end, I can’t help but get a little teary-eyed, thinking about all of the amazing things I’ve done and seen, and the unforgettable people in my life I’ve had the privilege of reconnecting with and spending time with. Time has literally flown by, and it feels like just yesterday I over-packed my AC-deprived car and headed southbound in 110 degree heat to the town I left my heart in many years ago. I remember the promise of freedom, relief, excitement, and a summer to be remembered filling the air, and my wide, happy eyes. It’s not often I get to up and take off, though my spirit often wants to – I call it wanderlust, and the yearning for a new beginning, new experiences, sights, sounds, etc. rather than being restless and discontent. Restless, I can be, but I’m often content, so that’s not what I would call it. And now, here I am wrapping things up, both physically and emotionally; now experiencing that discontent thing a little as I wish for a few more weeks, at the very least. Instead, I have just a few more days.
Going through my last two months here, I’ve been filtering, revisiting, and questioning, but am happy to have come out realizing I wouldn’t have done anything differently, nor would I trade my time here for anything in the world! I’m so pleased to say I can go back home with no regrets, knowing that I’ve had the best of intentions and kept my heart big and open, I’ve learned a lot about myself, and certainly re-confirmed what I already knew about the beach before in that somehow it heals me, soothes me, and always keeps me coming back! The other night, I planned to make a trip to the gym, and instead drove right on by, heading for the ocean instead. I spent a blissful evening walking in the sand, breathing in the sea breeze, and meandering around the pier in Santa Monica, which is basically a carnival on the water that is brilliantly lit up at dusk. It’s not the first time I’ve found myself at the beach instead of somewhere else while I’ve been here, that’s for sure, be it Santa Monica, Venice, Laguna, Newport, San Diego….the ocean just does that to me 🙂
No matter where I’ve been, or what I’ve been doing, the common thread in my lovely time here, as I mentioned before, has been the people. I have some amazing friends that I don’t get to see anywhere near as often as I’d like, and though with some of them it had been months or years, I know they are true friends because everything seems to come right back. I’ve spent time with friends from high school ( Hi, AP and Brett!), from my days at UC Davis (Love you, Steph!), from years and years back in my Newport Beach days (ahem, TK), and so many more I hope to see and keep in touch with much more often. I even decided since I’ve been here that I’d love to start writing hand-written notes or postcards to the people more special in my life so that we can check in with each other and say hi in a much cooler way than with email and Facebook! The internet is an amazing thing (obviously! haha), but sometimes the most precious and thoughtful means of showing you’re thinking of someone are often lost to quick text messages. I’ll be getting in touch for your addresses – you know who you are! 😉
I’ve had the summer of my life, in the most cheese-ball sounding, but completely serious way possible! So many thanks, I love you guys!
I’m positive I’ll be writing more about my time and experiences in LA some more soon, but for now, let’s get into a recipe I tried for the first time while here: gluten free vegan carrot cake…and of course, vegan cream cheese frosting! It was super awesome, if I do say so myself 🙂
Gluten Free Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe
It’s not often I really really enjoy a gluten free AND vegan cake or bread recipe, since I have yet to fully perfect that art form, but this cake was really delicious. The flavor was spot-on, from what I remember a good carrot cake to be – a yummy spice-cake with lots of carrot, and the pineapple was a new addition to me, but I think it worked in the crushed form. It’s pretty dense, and much like a quick bread. Loved it
* 1 cup gluten free flour mix (I used Bob’s Redmill)
* 1/2 coconut flour
* 1/2 cup oat flour (make sure it’s made with gluten free oats)
* 1 Tbsp cornstarch
* 2 tsp baking soda
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 2 tsp cinnamon
* 1 tsp nutmeg
* dash of ginger
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp xanthan gum
* 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup canola oil
* 1/2 cup applesauce
* 3 flax eggs (3 Tbsp ground flax + 9 Tbsp water)
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1 8 oz can crushed, drained pineapple
* 2 cups finely grated carrots
* 1 cup roughly chopped pecans (or walnuts, if you prefer)
Preheat oven to 350* F, and grease or line 2 small cake pans (about the size of the top of a 3-tiered caked – roughly 6″ across). Sift together the flours, xanthan gum, salt, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and cornstarch in a bowl. Set aside.
Mix together the ground flax and water, and set aside for about 10 minutes, until thickened (this makes your flax eggs). Finely grate about 3 medium carrots to yield 2 cups. This will probably take forever…or maybe that was just me? ;p
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the canola oil, applesauce, sugar, and vanilla extract. Once the flax eggs have thickened, add them to the mix and beat together until smooth. Mix in the grated carrots and crushed pineapple.
Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl, mixing between additions. Once everything comes together, stir in the chopped pecans by hand. Pour batter (it will be thick) into the 2 prepared cake pans, place in oven and bake about 45 min – 1 hour depending on your oven. Once a toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done, but be sure to check around the 40 min mark to make sure you’re not overbaking. Turn out onto cooling racks. Don’t make the mistake of frosting the cake before it’s completely cool, like I might have done…Ooops!
Note: Even throwing it in the freezer for as long as you can stand to wait for it to cool before wanting to frost and eat won’t exactly yield ideal results…I’m talking frosting melting and running off the cake like a mudslide, haha! Live and learn! 🙂
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
* 2 8 oz tubs vegan cream cheese (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
* 1/2 cup Earth Balance non-dairy spread
* 3 cups powdered sugar
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
Beat Earth Balance and cream cheese together until smooth in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in the vanilla. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing well between additions. If the frosting still seems a little thin, add a little more powdered sugar. Add in lemon juice, to taste, just for that little tang you get from real cream cheese! Refrigerate so that it firms up before using.
I’m not ashamed to admit I ate this frosting by the spoonful…no cake needed often times!
Time to live it up my last few days before school, work, and reality take over again…;)