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Food

Carrot Cake Update

Posted by Amie / May 6, 2010

Crudessence Raw Carrot CakeIn response to some comments on the best carrot cake in Montreal, I went out, and stayed in, to try a few more renditions of one of my favourite desserts.

The contenders: A raw carrot cake from Crudessence and TWO vegan carrot cakes from Bonny's Vegetarian and Organic Cuisine. One JUST vegan, and the other both vegan and gluten-free.

Gluten-free can be hard to find in this city, so when I went to Bonny's with the intention of sampling the vegan carrot cake and found out there was also a gluten-free/sugar-free version, I had to try both. Fortunately I was there with a friend and didn't have to order multiple pieces of cake for myself, like I happily did a few times for the Best Montreal Desserts post.

The verdict? The gluten-free cake wasn't as good as the other version. The weird thing is it didn't have the same spices - freshly ground cloves and cinnamon - which has nothing to do with gluten. You can't skimp on a spices for a cake for people who can't eat gluten by figuring that they won't know what they're missing, and will just be happy to be able to eat cake.

The texture was pretty un-cake-like; it was soft like a chewy pudding. The version with wheat flour was a bit more like cake in consistency, but I still didn't love it. I think it was the icing that wrecked the cake's potential. The same icing made from cashews, tofu and agave was on both versions, and it kind of tasted hollow from the tofu/agave combination. Bonnys get points for making it sugar-free with the agave nectar, but it sadly just wasn't that great. Maybe I was just disappointed because the Boca burger I'd had for lunch there was just a bunch of cooked black beans, nicely spiced, roughly shaped into a thick, mushy patty on top of half a kamut bun and topped with a decent tomato salsa (canned tomatoes since it's not tomato season). The bun was actually really nice but mostly you couldn't taste it because it soaked up all the liquid from the salsa and disintegrated, depriving you of the deliciously sweet flavour. My only other complaint with the restaurant is that it's mostly not vegan. Sure they can make vegetarian options by leaving sour cream and cheese off things, but quesadillas aren't quesadillas if they're just tortilla quarters filled with tomatoes.

At Bonny's it seems like the salads are the way to go. They're delicious. The lettuce actually tastes like something and the house apple cider vinaigrette is a really good balance between sweet and sour. The sandwich options with tofu or tempeh looked good too, and next time I'll have to try the lentil burger, which apparently is allowed to have an entire kamut bun.

Back to carrot cake. A little disappointed, I decided not to give up vegan carrot cake and instead to try again the next day with Crudessence's raw version. I took advantage of the Cycle Bird Bike Courrier service to have my lunch and dessert delivered straight to my door. I don't want to know how fast that bike was going to get to my house so quickly, but my carrot cake had miraculously not even moved in its container. I'd figured the icing would smear all over the sides, but no, it stayed on top and in between the layers of the cake. My cauliflower couscous had stayed put too, and the two little containers of accompanying sauces had remained un-spilled. If I'd actually eaten at the restaurant I probably would have made more of a mess...

I was worried that it would be impossible to make a real cake texture without flour, and I was a little right. The cake texture was kind of like Bonnys version - a bit too mushy, which I suppose is better than overly dry. The big differences were that Crudessence used tiny, raisins, like currants, to sweeten the cake and there was a whole lot of coconut involved in the cake itself, the icing, and as garnish. The fresh mandoline-sliced piece of carrot in the shape of a tiny carrot on top of the piece of cake was really adorable, and was completely confusing when you expect it to be made of icing like every other carrot cake in the city. Suddenly you are required to chew.

The Crudessence icing was a lot better than Bonnys. Their cashew cream didn't have the hollow flavour of tofu, and got a fuller sweetness from dates. The walnuts actually even tasted better. I still like the carrot cakes at Croissanterie Figaro and Aux Deux Maries better, but you certainly can't justify eating those carrot cakes for breakfast.

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