Carrot cake is definitely my cake of choice. At a certain age, I stopped liking the super sweet flavors in cakes and cupcakes, but I have always loved carrot cake.
My family grew up with carrot cake as the cake of choice for birthdays. At one point, my mom even made our cakes and shaped them into our favorite tv characters! I’ll never forget the Barney cake I got for my 3rd birthday (I think). No laughing, it was totally cool when I was that age.
Due to some family allergies, we always make our carrot cakes plain. And by plain I mean no nuts, no coconut, and no raisons. No added flavors like pineapple either. Just carrots and cinnamon. But trust me on this, you won’t miss any of those with this recipe!
I’ve said this in a few of my recipes, but when it comes to my flour of choice I use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Baking Flour. It just seems to work with every recipe I make! It also has some xanthan gum in it, so no need to guess how much to use. I’ve hear you can make pretty much everything without the use of gums, but I haven’t been that adventurous yet.
This carrot cake is actually adapted from the same recipe my mom used for years to make our cakes. And honestly, I think it turned out even better than imagined by making it gluten free. Because this cake has some serious moisture and flavor to it! I substituted a chunk of the oil for plain yogurt, which not only adds moisture to gluten free goods… but it’s WAY healthier than the full amount of oil the recipe called for. I also added in some brown sugar, extra cinnamon and vanilla. Gotta amp up those flavors, right?!
The frosting is what brings this cake all together. It’s silky, smooth, and simply sweet. The addition of citrus from the marmalade and orange zest really compliments the cinnamon and carrot flavor in the cake. It takes what would be an excellent carrot cake and makes it elegant. Now, it’s not a super thick frosting by adding in the marmalade, but trust me on this – it’s still so delicious!
I say that this cake serves 12 people, but honestly… not everyone has a regular slice of cake. If you have a few that would rather take a sliver, you might get 14-16 slices out of it instead. Just remember, that’s the number of servings… not the number of people it will feed. Because really, you know you are going to have 3 pieces all to yourself. With ice cream. And extra frosting on the side.
I’m seriously dreaming of this cake right now. Try this recipe for your next birthday party or family gathering… I’m pretty sure you will be dreaming about it too.
Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Flour (if not using this flour, you will need to add 3/4 tsp xanthan gum if your mixture doesn’t contain it)
- 3/4 cup oil
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp gluten free vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and grated (weighed before grated)
- 16oz plain cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 stick butter (1/2 cup), room temperature
- 1 tsp gluten free vanilla extract
- 3.5-4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2-3 Tbsp gluten free orange marmalade
- 1 tsp orange zest
- Preheat oven to 325℉.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk oil, yogurt, and sugars and beat well. Beat in the vanilla, then set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir half of the dry mixture into the oil and sugar until blended well. Alternate adding in the remaining dry mixture with the eggs, mixing well after each addition (you can also do this whole process in a stand mixer). Stir in the grated carrots.
- Pour the batter evenly into two 9-inch round cake pans that have been lightly oiled and floured. I also line the bottoms with a cut circle of parchment paper for easy removal.
- Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans, then remove from the pan and place on a baking sheet in the fridge until you are ready to frost (cover the cakes lightly with aluminum foil).
- Combine cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer or with hand beaters and beat until smooth.
- Add 3.5 cups of confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, orange zest and 2 Tbsp of orange marmalade. Beat on high for a minute or two until perfectly smooth.
- Add in the extra 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar if the frosting needs to be thickened more. If desired, add the extra tablespoon of marmalade and beat to combine (Adding marmalade can cause the frosting to be slightly on the runny side, so don’t add a ton if you want a thicker frosting). I added the full 3 Tbsp to mine, and loved the thinner texture of the frosting.
- Place the frosting into the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove the cakes from the fridge. Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand and evenly spoon about 1/4-1/3 of the frosting across the top.
- Top with the second layer, and spread the rest of the frosting all over the top and sides and smooth out with an offset spatula. There may be remaining frosting, which you can use to decorate with or use as desired. Slice and serve.
Not all gluten free flours are the same, even all-purpose gluten free flours. Some may need extra moisture compared to others, and some may be denser than others. If you use a different flour from what I used, I can’t guarantee you will get the same results.
Adapted from “Prospect’s Carrot Cake” in the book Beyond Parsley.
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