I have a confession to make: I really really don’t like carrot cake. Something about all that sweetness for naught, paired with an icing that’s usually even more insufferably sweet. There’s oftentimes a dearth of flavor and an over-abundance of oily sugar. Then that awful chunky carrot texture, with the occasional surprise nut or raisin. Ick ick ick. Probably not much of a surprise that I dislike nuts in my cookies, too. 🙂
So for Cake Month, I thought it fit to take on my old nemesis and see if I could wrangle out a cake that stayed true to the original idea, but also pleased those of us who typically don’t like carrot cake. Oh, and while keeping it gluten free of course. Because. Why not?
I did my research. First I perused the classic recipes, noting what made a carrot cake carrot cake. Carrots, of course. Cinnamon. Fall spices. Cream cheese icing. Nuts, usually pecan or walnut. From there it devolved into subspecies of carrot cake. Some people added raisins. Some people used a can of pineapple. Some spiced it up with bourbon. Some used yogurt.
So I synthesized what I found using my previous gf baking experiences and came up with the following, or as I would like to call it, Carrot Cake for those of Us Who Do Not Like Carrot Cake:
3 cups gluten free flour of choice (a blend of bean, brown rice, & potato starch is best; I personally used Trader Joe’s new gf flour and it worked wonderfully) 1 tsp xanthan gum or 1 tbsp ground flax seed 1 tbsp baking powder 2 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt or to taste 2 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (blend of nutmeg, cloves, coriander, allspice & ginger) 4 eggs, room-temp 1 cup brown sugar 1 tbsp honey 1/2 cup fat of choice (I used coconut oil, but butter works too), room-temp 1 cup yogurt 2 tsp vanilla 2 tbsp bourbon 2 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup cream cheese, room-temp 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room-temp 3 cups powdered sugar 1 tsp salt Zest from 1/2 lemon or 1 tbsp maple syrup 1 cup toasted pecans
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Take the first seven ingredients (aka, the dry ones) and mix ’em up real good in a medium-sized bowl. Then, in a larger bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the following wet ingredients one at a time, combining each fully before throwing in the next. Finish by stirring in your grated carrots.
Now you have options! I went for a layered cake, so I took two springform pans, oiled them well, and split the batter between them. But you can do one large cake, just be sure to lengthen the baking time. After pouring the batter into the pans, bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. If one pan, you’re aiming for closer to 40 minutes. Be sure to check on your cake 2/3 of the way through to gauge its doneness. At 4k feet above sea level, it took our cakes 22 minutes until perfection.
While the cakes cool, mix together your icing – not including the pecans. Nothing fancy there, just make sure your butter and cream cheese are soft first. Once the cakes are fully cool (don’t skimp on cooling!), ice the first layer, then place the second on top and ice that. Strategically place the toasted pecans on the cake for optimum
sex visual appeal. Enjoy with a delicious iced coffee.