Copycat J. Alexander's Carrot Cake with Zucchini (Reduced Sugar)
After searching for a copycat recipe, I tried some and came up with this slightly less sweet version. I also swap some of the carrots for zucchini! One great thing about this cake is that it is probably best served warm! That means you don't have to cool it completely before frosting! In fact, I keep the frosting separate and pipe or spoon it over warmed slices of cake. There are three processes to this cake, the batter, the cake syrup and the frosting. Its not difficult, but it will take some time, however, you can work on the cake syrup and frosting while the cake bakes!
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
large mixing bowl
medium mixing bowl
8x8 baking pan
measuring cups & spoons
small sauce pan
hand or standing mixer
Small mixing bowl.
skewer or large fork
box grater or a mandoline with grater or julienne setting.
Carrot Zucchini Cake Batter
¾cupwhite whole wheat flourI like *King Arthur, if you can find it and the price is reasonable. If not, just use store brand.
2tspEnspice Sri Lankan cinnamonRegular cinnamon is fine, but Enspice is amazing. All purchases of Enspice help to fight malnutrition. Visit their website to read all about it.
¼tspnutmegFresh grated is the best
1tbsporange zestOptional, or use orange juice if you have it
3ozcrushed pineappleStrained well
½cupcarrotsGrated or julienned and chopped. I use a mandoline and julienne the carrots and zucchini then chop them up into smaller pieces. A box grater is great to use also.
½cupzucchiniOptional, you can use more carrots instead. grated (grate around the core and toss the seedy part) or julienned and chopped.
2ozshredded coconutI used sweetened shredded coconut.
½cuppecansChopped (add a full cup if you like extra nuts!)
Buttermilk Cake Syrup
5tbspbutterSalted is fine
Cream Cheese Frosting
4oz1/3 less fat cream cheeseRoom temperature
¼tsp vanilla extract
Prepare the carrot cake batter
Grease/butter and flour an 8X8 baking pan. Preheat oven to 350°
Mix all the dry ingredients for the cake in a large bowl. (All-purpose and whole wheat flour, baking soda & powder, Enspice/cinnamon, nutmeg, brown and white sugar and a pinch of salt.
Mix all the wet ingredients for the cake batter in a medium bowl. (Egg, canola oil, yogurt, buttermilk, vanilla, orange zest or juice, strained pineapple, coconut, carrots and zucchini together in a medium bowl.)
Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir in chopped pecans.
Pour the batter into the 8X8 pan
Bake for 35 minutes at 350°. Test with a toothpick. If its still raw in the middle, reduce the temp to 325° and cook another 15 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. You should be able to press lightly and the cake will spring back in the center.
Once cooked through, remove to a trivet and cook your cake syrup.
Prepare the Cake Syrup
Add ingredients for the cake syrup to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and cook until until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has thickened. It won’t take long, about five minutes. Remove from heat.
Prepare the Cake for the Syrup
Use a thick sewer or large fork and gently poke holes all over the cake while it is still warm.
Pour the cake syrup very slowly over the warm cake. Set aside to cool a few minutes before serving.
Prepare the Frosting
In medium bowl, whip the cream cheese until smooth.
Add the butter and vanilla and beat until combined and fluffy.
Slowly mix in the powdered sugar.
Put the frosting in a piping bag or a zip top bag until ready to frost the cake.
Frost and Serve
I prefer to cut the cake into 9 pieces and pipe frosting on each individually plated warm piece. You can frost the entire cake, the choice is yours! I like to garnish with pecans or a sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg! You could garnish with a few gratings of carrot too.
*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I adapted this from a few recipes, the one I recall most is mybakingaddiction.com. There are a lot of great recipes on mybakingaddiction!*When shopping for a mandoline, stay away from v-shaped blades that are made of two pieces crossed over or butted up together. Food gets stuck and they don't slice well in my opinion. I'm thinking of this one from Amazon to replace my annoying v-shaped mandoline.This cake is amazing served warm with frosting piped or spooned over the top. I like to store the leftover frosting ins a zip top bag and pipe it over pieces of cake that have been warmed in the microwave.This is a very rich, sweet, buttery cake. I use less sugar in the cake batter than other copycat recipes since the cake syrup and frosting are so very sweet.