I’ve been craving carrot cake for so long now, I can’t even remember when it actually started. I don’t know if you can relate, but once I get a craving, there’s very little chance it will go away – even after 6+ months! So in light of a certain craving that just wouldn’t stop, I decided it was high time to get busy making a healthier version of carrot cake.
While carrot cake might not be the most unhealthy dessert out there. The sheer amount of flour, sugar, and vegetable oil in this classic leaves a lot of room for improvement. Instead of the usual vegetable oil, I used avocado oil for a healthy fat.
From there I made a grain free cake base that’s exactly like the ones made with white flour only better. Now I know you might be thinking that’s absolutely impossible. But let me assure you no one has guessed this is gluten/grain free or healthier – not even one single person.
I did keep the cream cheese frosting close to the classic version. However I found that I preferred around 1/3 the amount of powdered sugar I used to put in my cream cheese frosting. That way the cream cheese shines through perfectly, yet it’s still enough powdered sugar to make a silky frosting texture.
If you can’t have dairy, I’ve linked to one of my dairy free glazes that works well here. And while you can omit the powdered sugar and just sweeten the frosting with a touch of maple syrup or honey, it will lack that certain ‘frosting’ texture that you can only get with powdered sugar.
First off the dry ingredients for this cake get mixed together…
… then the carrots are added in, and mixed until they’re coated with the flour mixture.
Next the wet ingredients are added, and you should have a fairly stiff cake batter like the above photo.
From there you can either spread it in a prepared pan. Or you can line the pan with greased parchment paper if you want to be able to lift the cake out.
How to test for doneness: this cake is done when it begins to puff in the middle, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, without any batter clinging to it.
Once the cake is done, it needs to cool completely on a cooling rack before you add the frosting. I prefer both my cake and frosting to be at room temperature for the best flavor. So I make the cake earlier in the day, and them frost it right before dinner, so it will be ready to be served for dessert.
Storage Tips: You can store this cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It will start to dry out slightly around the edges, but mostly it holds it’s own. For best texture and flavor, let the cake/or piece(s) sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Now that I have my carrot cake craving satisfied, it would seem I’m in need of cinnamon rolls now. But I’m not sure what to do about that one yet because I’ve found every gluten free version to be intolerable compared to the real thing. I actually had an idea late last night as I was drifting off to sleep that maybe I could make a cinnamon roll coffee cake of sorts.
In any case it’s in the rough stages right now. But I was thinking about trying it out while we’re camping because who doesn’t crave those flavors when you wake up early in the forest and it’s crispy cold out? Warm cinnamony goodness with a cup of coffee – well… that’s what weekend are made of. But until I get that recipe worked out, I’ll be taking this carrot cake with me instead!
- 2 cups fine almond flour
- ½ cup tapioca starch
- ½ cup cane sugar, see notes
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- 2 Teaspoons baking powder
- 1 Teaspoon baking soda
- ½ Teaspoon sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ Teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ Teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 cups grated carrots, from 1 bunch, 9 ounces
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup avocado oil
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 Tablespoons salted butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- Garnish with toasted coconut if desired
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease a 9"x13" pan with avocado oil. Or if you want to lift the cake out of the pan, line it with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper.
- For the carrot cake, whisk together the almond flour, tapioca starch, coconut sugar, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined.
- Mix in the grated carrots until they're coated and evenly distributed. Then add the eggs, avocado oil, and vanilla extract. Mix until a thick batter forms and the flour mixture has been incorporated.
- Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cake is just starting to puff in the middle, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes before trying to lift it out with the parchment paper.
- Let the cake cool completely to room temperature before frosting it. If you've made the frosting ahead of the time you want to serve the cake, let the frosting come back up to room temperature. If the frosting is cold, it won't spread on the cake.
- To make the frosting, add the cream cheese, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and butter to an electric mixer. Mix until no lumps remain, scraping down the sides as needed. Then add the powdered sugar in 3 batches, beating to combine in between. Scrape down the sides and beat for a final time until the frosting is silky smooth.
- Spread the frosting evenly over the surface of the cake in a swirling pattern and garnish with toasted coconut flakes if desired.
- Serve immediately for the best flavor and texture. Alternatively you can frost the cake and store it in the refrigerator for the day, then let it sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours before serving. This is ideal for entertaining. The cake will keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
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