November 26 isn’t just Thanksgiving this year: it’s also National Cake Day! One of our staff members shares her family’s favorite cake recipe, a perfect fit for your fall festivities.
The Best Ever Carrot Cake
Marketing & Digital Communications Coordinator
“I know it’s not for everyone, but carrot cake is a big favorite in my family. My parents even had carrot cake at their wedding.
Unfortunately, my mom, grandmother, and I all have different levels of gluten intolerance, so cake of any kind used to be a no-go for us at holiday celebrations.
A few years ago, I got tired of avoiding the dessert table at parties and family gatherings and decided to take matters into my own hands: I would fine tune the perfect gluten free carrot cake recipe. After plenty of trial and error, I think I’m pretty close.
I won’t lie to you, this recipe takes a lot of time and makes a big mess, but it’s the ultimate labor of love – if I make this cake for you, it’s a good indicator that you’re special to me. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t taste gluten free. If you’ve ever tried gluten free bread from the grocery store, you’ll know that’s a miracle.”
Recipe makes one large 3-layer cake.
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup plain greek yogurt
¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
¼ cup crushed pineapple, plus a tablespoon of reserved pineapple juice (optional)
1 cup white sugar
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups gluten free oat flour
(like Bob’s Red Mill, available at most grocery stores)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Cream cheese icing:
12 oz. cream cheese (1 ½ packs)
(NOT WHIPPED, the real stuff)
¾ cup salted butter
(in sticks, do not substitute margarine or shortening of any kind)
6 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Optional pecan topping:
¼ cup salted butter, melted
4 cups chopped pecans
If you want to top your cake with roasted pecans (optional), do this first:
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Mix melted butter and chopped pecans on a sheet pan, then spread out into a single layer.
- Roast in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes or until they develop a nice toasty smell, stirring halfway through to keep them from burning.
- Let them cool completely before adding to the cake.
To make the cake:
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 9-inch round cake pans. If you only have one cake pan, no sweat – it will just take a bit longer to get all of the layers baked.
- Wet step: Beat together all of the ingredients from the wet step until fully combined.
- Dry step: In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix until combined. Add carrots (and nuts, if desired) and stir until evenly distributed.
- Pour the batter evenly into the 3 cake pans and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each layer comes out clean. (Baking time depends on the thickness of each layer – it’s normal if they don’t end up perfectly even! I’m not a pastry chef and you probably aren’t either. I recommend checking them at 20 minutes and adjusting the time from there.)
- When the layers are done, allow them to cool completely before frosting.
To make the icing:
Cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until there are no lumps. Beat in 4 cups of powdered sugar, then taste with a clean spoon. I like to do this because some people like cream cheese frosting to have a little more bite, and some people like it to be sweet with just a hint of cream cheese. If it’s not sweet enough for you, add more powdered sugar bit by bit, tasting with a clean spoon between each mix-in.
To assemble the cake:
- Smooth a spoonful of frosting in the very middle of a plate or platter big enough to hold your cake. Center the first (COMPLETELY COOL!) cake layer over the icing.
- Space out large globs of frosting over the cake layer, then spread evenly with a knife or rubber spatula to cover the layer. If you find that crumbs are sticking to the icing and it won’t spread easily, you can dip the knife or spatula into a little bit of water, then shake off the excess (you don’t want a wet cake, but the water creates a barrier between the spreader and the icing).
- Repeat until all of the layers are in place, then cover the cake with the remaining icing. Garnish with roasted pecans (if desired).
- Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. ENJOY!