Carrot cake is one of those lovely desserts that always makes me feel like a queen. Something about the rich, dense layers and the uber-creamy icing are almost always swoon-worthy, causing even the most recalcitrant sugar-opponent to buckle under a cloud of cinnamon and cream cheese. This particular recipe, even though it's gluten-free, is a superlative carrot cake experience. The lofty, tender crumb does nothing to tattle on its wheat-free status—If you didn't tell your guests, they might never know.
This recipe was adapted from a fabulous book called Gluten Free Baking Classics. If you at all love to bake with gluten-free ingredients, I highly recommend it.
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- Yield:Makes one 2-layer 8-inch round cake
- Unsalted butter, for greasing pan
- 3 cups (about 15 ounces) gluten free flour mix
- 1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups grated peeled carrots (about two large carrots)
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- For cream cheese frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
For the cake: Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 350ºF. Generously butter two 8-inch round cake pans and set aside. Combine gluten-free flour mix, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
Add sugar, oil, and eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or add to a large bowl and use a handheld electric mixer. Beat until smooth, about one minute. Add vanilla and beat for another minute. Slowly add the flour mixture and beat at medium-low speed for 1 minute. Fold in carrots, walnuts, and coconut with a spatula.
Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer pans to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Use a small knife to cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Invert cake layers onto rack, peel off paper and allow to cool completely.
For cream cheese frosting: Beat butter and cream cheese in stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat at low speed until well blended. Beat in vanilla, lemon zest and juice until smooth.
Place one cooled cake on a platter. Spread a thick layer of frosting onto the top of the cake, covering the entire surface evenly, then set the other cake on top. Use an offset spatula to spread more icing around the top and sides of the cake. If you like, pipe small rosettes of icing around the cake's edges for a decorative touch. (See here for a photo slideshow on how to frost a cake.)