Tuesday, October 27 ,2015

Gluten-Free (Grain Free) Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

CarrotCakeWholeI try not to make a big deal of it but the truth is I can’t digest grain very well. I’ve found that I do much better when I avoided all grain. So, that’s what I do.

I do miss baked goods and for the most part the gluten free substitutes leave a bit to be desired. However, over the last 5 years I’ve been learning and teaching more Spanish foods among which I’ve discovered some fantastic cakes that are traditionally made from ground nuts. One of my favorites is Tarte de Santiago, a fantastic citrus-scented almond meal cake. It got me thinking that carrot cake might be a natural for substituting nut meal for flour. It’s a dense cake with lots of carrot shreds, nuts and raisins to create binding and stability.

I did some investigating and discovered that Elena of Elena’s Pantry had come up with a version.  The first time through, I followed her cake recipe to a “T” but it contained an enormous amount of cinnamon. It was good but had a little too much heat. And, although I don’t eat grain, I am not a Paleo dieter so I decided not to make her version of Coconut Cream Frosting. Instead, I made real cream cheese frosting with a touch of maple syrup.

Vince and I both have birthdays in October so I’ve made this cake twice this month and it’s damn good. The first time I made it, we ate nearly half the cake in one sitting!  I don’t think you need to be gluten-free or grain free to still enjoy it. Try it and let me know.


Grain Free Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

I love this cake so much that I made it for my husband’s birthday and few weeks later I made it again for my own birthday. Adapted from Elena’s Pantry

3 cups blanched almond meal/flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 teaspoon fine sea salt (I used Noirmoutier Gray Salt)

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

5 large eggs

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup rice bran oil or safflower oil

3 cups carrots, grated

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts

2 8-ounce blocks cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted*

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. (See note.)

Combine almond meal, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice in a large bowl and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, honey and oil. Stir the carrots, raisins, and walnuts into the egg mixture.

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, stirring until well combined.

Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans. Bake until the center of the cakes is set and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes.

Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Peel off parchment paper; cool cakes completely.

While the cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat at low speed until well blended. Finally add in maple syrup and vanilla beat until smooth and creamy. Chill until just firm enough to spread, 30 minutes.

Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread with 3/4 cup icing. Top with second layer. Spread remaining icing over entire cake. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.)

*Powdered sugar is usually cut with cornstarch starch, so if you have difficulty digesting corn be sure that you check the label. The brand I used is Wholesome Foods Powdered Sugar which is cut with tapioca starch.

Note: Since this is a gluten free cake, I line my cake pan with parchment circles so the cake doesn’t crumble when it comes out. I grease the pans first, then line each with a parchment circle. I grease the parchment circle as well.

2 responses to “Gluten-Free (Grain Free) Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. ruthie says:

    I’m wondering if, because of it’s tendency to crumble, this might be more do-able as bars using a parchment-lined sheet pan. With only one layer and being able to cut it right in the pan, it seems like it would be good. And this would make awesome bars, too.

    Thanks for the recipe! I’m eager to try it as soon as I get some carrots. Also, what do you think about using coconut flour instead of or mixed with the almond?

    • Erin Coopey says:

      Hi Ruthie, The cake is very moist and holds together beautifully for being grain free. The carrots really help to bind it. I’m sure the mixture would make a great sheet cake too. Let me know if you try it with coconut flour.

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