The BEST Gluten Free Carrot Cake (Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free)
Ok hear me out, not everyone loves carrot cake. But THIS carrot cake could change your mind. It's just delicious -- perfectly moist, full of carrots, warm spices and a bit of pineapple for sweetness. You will never know this is gluten free, dairy free and a healthier carrot cake! It is also low FODMAP friendly for those with sensitive digestions. This carrot cake is the perfect Easter brunch cake for everyone!
I suggest you read the tips and notes below to make sure your cake comes out perfect, or you can
Why you will love this gluten free carrot cake!
1. It is moist, full of flavor and texture filled with shredded carrots, pineapple and optional raisins and chopped nuts. With cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger AND a cinnamon cream cheese frosting. ALL the flavors, just how a carrot cake should be!
2. Secretly gluten free, dairy free, and optional to make refined sugar free frosting.
3. It's so easy to make, no mixer needed.
4. Even non-carrot cake fans will love this cake!
5. It can be made into a sheet cake, cupcakes or a layered cake.
INGREDIENTS IN GLUTEN FREE CARROT CAKE:
Baking Powder and Soda
Coconut Sugar, or Granulated Sugar
Avocado Oil, or Neutral Oil
Optional Chopped Walnuts or Pecans
SUBSTITUTIONS AND SWAPS:
1. A substitute for the gluten free flour has not been tested. Oat flour may work here but I cannot guarantee the same results! Almond flour will create too much moisture as this cake is already very moist.
2. If you do not have all the spices on hand, you can add in the cinnamon and then 2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice in place of the nutmeg, cloves and ginger.
3. Maple syrup can be replaced with honey or coconut palm syrup.
4. Coconut sugar works perfectly here and keeps the cake lower glycemic, but any granulated sweetener should work. Keep in mind cane sugar is a sweeter than coconut sugar, as any artificial sweeteners and monkfruit are a lot sweeter. So the cake will be sweeter in flavor than with coconut sugar! I also like to use granulated maple sugar, it has a great flavor.
5. I use avocado oil since it is a healthy oil and keeps its nutrients at high temperatures. I do think melted refined coconut oil will work in replacement. Or any neutral oil. I do not suggest olive oil.
6. Crushed pineapple is optional but highly recommended for a sweet flavor and a little acidity to complement the carrots. You can find organic crushed canned pineapple with just juice and pineapple as ingredients, I like this brand. You can also use fresh pineapple and chop it finely. If you prefer no pineapple, you can sub with more shredded carrots or even shredded apples.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST GLUTEN FREE CARROT CAKE
(see recipe card below for full recipe instructions)
First, mix together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Then, mix together the wet ingredients including the strained finely shredded carrots and pineapple.
Prep baking pans with cooking spray and/or parchment paper, and transfer batter evenly to pans.
Cook in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs and tops bounce back. Let cool fully on cooling rack.
Prep the frosting by whipping together all ingredients in a large bowl with a hand mixer or stand mixer.
Spread onto cooled cakes, on each layer, and frost the outside until an even crumb coat layer.
Option to decorate with extra piped frosting on top and cover in crushed nuts!
TIPS FOR MAKING THE PERFECT CARROT CAKE:
1. The pineapple must be crushed, not sliced or chunked! And must be strained from its juices before adding to the batter. If you only have chunked pineapple on hand, or cutting up a fresh pineapple, throw into a blender and pulse a few times so it's finely chopped.
2. Carrots must also be strained of its juices or the cake will be too moist. I use a paper towel to strain before adding to the batter.
3. Make sure cakes are baked fully (but not overbaked) by testing with a toothpick, a few crumbs should come out and the tops of the cake should bounce back when gently pressed. This is a very moist cake so baking fully is important! If cakes seems underbaked after cooled, place back in heated oven for another 10 minutes.
What kitchen tools do I need to make this carrot cake?
Three 6"round cake pans OR two 8"round cake pans OR one 9x13" sheet cake pan
Shredder or grater for carrots
Paper towel or cheesecloth for straining carrots
Can I make gluten free carrot cake as cupcakes?
Yes, this cake can be made into cupcakes. Fill batter 3/4 the way up in cupcake liners and bake for only 15-18 minutes, tops bounce back and just a few crumbs come out on a toothpick when done. This may also be made into a sheet cake, which may need more bake time than the 6" rounds.
How much frosting do I need to frost the three 6" layer cake?
I frosted my 3 layer 6" round cake with one batch of frosting. The additional piping frosting swirls on top were an additional half a batch. This single batch created a thin layer in between each layer and a single crumb coat frost on the sides and top. If you like a lot of frosting I suggest to double the batch!
One batch of frosting will also frost 12 cupcakes or one sheet cake.
Why do I have to squeeze and strain the carrots and pineapple?
This is to ensure the cake does not come out too wet. Because no one wants a wet sticky cake! The carrots and pineapple hold a lot of moisture and the water will settle into the cake when baked. To squeeze out the moisture, I place 1/2 cup at a time inside a double paper towel and gently squeeze and strain. This can also be done with a cheesecloth or nut milk bag.
Can I omit the pineapple?
You can omit the pineapple and replace with 1/2 cup more carrots, or even shredded apple. Again this must be strained out before adding to the batter! I suggest using if you have on hand as it adds a great flavor. I use organic canned pineapple, ingredients just pineapple and juice.
Note for those with histamine intolerance: baking/cooking lowers the histamine level in pineapples!
Any other questions? Ask in the comment box below!
If you love gluten free cake, you will love these other gluten free spring cake recipes: