Friday, January 28, 2011
Vegan Carrot Cake
While our snowy weather continues, the freezing temperatures are gone for now and we are enjoying the most gorgeous winter days - the kind of weather that makes you want to go play outside all day long. The sun has been out the last few days, and it looks like there are millions of tiny diamonds scattered on the snow. At night, the clear sky means a breathtaking starry sky, which I always miss in the city.

The days are also getting longer by the day: a few weeks ago, we only had a few short hours of daylight, and today I woke up at 7 AM amazed at how bright it was outside. We're clearly heading to spring. :)

I am visiting my parents yet again and trying to enjoy all the snow until I return to Copenhagen in two weeks or so. Despite the huge workload, I really love the freedom of the final university year, and being able to spend so much time visiting my family overseas. I also feel that I'm most effective when I study on my own (vs. sitting in class), so this fits me quite well. :)

After playing in the snow, there's nothing I love more than a cup of dark, hot chocolate - and a piece of cake. I have been meaning to share this carrot cake recipe since Christmas time, but I keep forgetting - so here it is. This is a moist, sweet cake that is super easy to make. It also freezes well, so I usually cut it into pieces and freeze them individually, so I can take one out of the freezer whenever I feel like having something sweet. My recipe is probably quite similar to numerous other carrot cake recipes out there, but this is an easy cake for those looking for a basic vegan version.

Vegan Carrot Pineapple Cake
  • 1 c non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp warm water
  • 3/4 c muscovado sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 c flour - I use half whole wheat/spelt, half all-purpose
  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 c grated carrots
  • 1 small can/about one cup crushed pineapple, drained  (save the juice for later)
  • 1/2 c chopped almonds or other nuts (optional)
  • 1/2 c raisins (optional)
  • 1 1/2 c confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F). Grease a (about) 12-inch square pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and vinegar. Set aside for a few minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

Add the oil, banana, vanilla and flax+water into the wet ingredients, and mix well. Now shift in the dry mixture, then add the carrot, pineapple, nuts and raisins, mixing until just well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake in the lower part of the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature.

To make the icing:

In a medium bowl, mix together the confectioner's sugar and enough juice to form a smooth, spreadable paste. Pour the frosting over the cake and, using a rubber spatula, spread it evenly. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, if desired.

You could also use your favorite (vegan) cream cheese frosting, which is always good. Vegan cream cheese is just incredibly hard to find in Denmark, so unless I have stocked up in Sweden, I mostly use the basic icing instead.

Have a great weekend! :)
posted by Seglare at Friday, January 28, 2011 | Permalink | 8 comments
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Winter Hibernation
After weeks of winter hibernation (aka lots of traveling and two exams, among other things), it's time to look into my quiet blog again. ;)

Christmas - my favorite time of year - is over, no matter how I'd like to prolong it. Despite the sad news just before the holidays, we had a lovely Christmas and New Year's. I was so glad that my boyfriend was not working on Christmas Eve this year, and was able to join us for three days. He had to be back to work much too soon, however, and I stayed at my parents' for a little longer while he flew back to Copenhagen after the Second Christmas Day.

I also spent New Year's at home with my parents this year, with was really nice. The longer I live abroad, the more I appreciate every moment spent with my family.

Soon after New Year's, my sister's family arrived. With a hungry toddler in the house, the gingerbread house was soon just a memory.

This winter has been exceptionally snowy in most of Scandinavia, and we seem to be getting more snow every day. Just before Christmas Eve, the Danish island of Bornholm got snowed under, and thousands of people got trapped in their homes or temporary shelters in the middle of their holiday plans. The snow was generally about 1.5 meters (5 ft) deep, but reached a depth of 6 meters (20 ft) or more in some places. I believe this Christmas was an unforgettable adventure to some, but ruined the plans for others wishing to reach their family or travel somewhere for the holidays.

Our snow situation is nothing compared to that on Bornholm - and Sweden and Finland are generally much better equipped to clear snow than Denmark - but I still haven't seen this much snow since my childhood. If you step out of a cleared road or path, you instantly sink up to your thighs. Snow shoes would be a fun thing to have right now! Luckily my parents have a neighbor who has professional snow removal equipment and does all the work for them and other neighbors, so only minor shoveling by hand is ever required. 

The lake has also frozen over. Many years, the waters have remained open through Christmas and New Year and the ice has not been strong enough to walk on all winter. This year, we were able to safely walk across the lake on Christmas Day.

A lone rabbit had used the same shortcut...

The temperatures have been excruciatingly cold and down to -30 C (-22 F) some days - and down to -23 C (-10 F) in Denmark, which is the coldest in 30 years - but on warmer days, it has been fun to walk in the snowy forest admiring the magic beauty of winter. 

 Is it just me, or does the light in these pictures already look like spring?

The polar night has just ended in Lapland - and by two days early in Greenland, which is thought to be because of the accelerated melting of polar ice - and even here in the South, you can feel the days getting longer. Although I am a fall person and love the Christmas season, I can't wait for the bright spring days. :) Some years, I have found the first flowers (Winter aconites) in Copenhagen in February, which always feels special.

I still have one goal for this winter though: cross country skiing. With all this snow, it's difficult to find good excuses. My dad is an avid skier and my very first memory ever is of sitting in a baby carrier on his back, when my parents were skiing one winter. I must have been just under two years old. I got my first ski set on my second Christmas, and grew up playing in the snow - but because of the lack of snow in Denmark, I haven't skied for several years. We'll see... maybe this winter. ;)

I hope you are all enjoying the winter, whether you have snow or not. :)
posted by Seglare at Wednesday, January 19, 2011 | Permalink | 7 comments