Carrot cake is a classic Springtime and Easter dessert, and it is so easy to modify gluten-free. Since the cake features such warm spices, this treat gets the majority of its sweetness from the cream cheese frosting.
Why I love this recipe:
- For me, carrot cake is one of the first reminders that Spring is here
- Cream cheese frosting is my favorite. I use it on lots of things, such as my red velvet cupcakes 🙂
- It’s very decadent, but not overly sweet
Fortunately, baking gluten-free cakes are easier now more than ever. All you need to remember for this gluten free carrot cake is to now over-mix the cake batter. You also want to make sure the toothpick comes out of the center of each cake completely clean. It is so easy for cakes to bake around the perimeter and while the center is left raw. Give the center of your cake the extra few minutes it needs to bake all the way through; the perimeter of your cake will not dry out in that amount of time.
When baking multi-tier cakes, it’s important that the cakes cool completely before frosting. Frosting a warm cake will turn into a runny mess, and you won’t get those lovely frosting line definitions in between each tier. I also recommend doing a crumb coat frosting on all multi-tier cakes. After you level each cake to get rid of the dome tops, you will be left with lots of cake crumbs. A thin layer of frosting spread on top of each cake will lock in the excess crumbs and result in a clean frosting when you’re finished.
Obviously, you can tell that my cake decorating and fine motor skills with royal icing are just top-notch 🙂
The end result of this three-tier gluten free carrot cake is a fluffy, creamy texture with lots of warm spices and a sweet and savory frosting!
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese FrostingPrint Recipe
- For the cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour, spooned and leveled
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil (I use Canola)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups grated carrots
- For the frosting:
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- A pinch of kosher salt
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Royal Icing for decorating, if desired
- Toasted crushed hazelnuts or pecans for topping, if desired
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of three 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper, then coat the bottom and sides of each pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugars until well combined. Whisk in the vegetable oil and vanilla extract until well combined.
Whisk the flour mixture into the wet mixture until just combined- do not over-mix.
Place your grated carrots in a strainer or a plate lined with a paper towel and squeeze out as much of the excess water out of the carrots as you can. Use a spatula to fold the carrots into your cake batter until just combined- do not over-mix.
Pour 1/3 of the batter into each cake pan and jiggle each pan flat on the counter to even out the batter and get rid of any air bubbles.
Bake each cake individually for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cakes are set and a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 30 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla, salt, and one cup of confectioners sugar at a time and beat until smooth and creamy. Let it set slightly in the refrigerator while the cakes are cooling.
Once the cakes have cooled, use a cake leveler or a long cake knife to trim off the dome of each cake so that you have three flat surfaces.
Now it's time to frost and layer! For cakes, I like to do a crumb coat of frosting first. This means that you spread about 1/4 cup of frosting on top of each cake set the crumbs and keep them from spreading around while you frost. Cover the top completely and scrape off any excess frosting so that you have a very thin layer of icing. Let that frosting layer on the cakes set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Once they have set, you can spread a heaping 1/2 cup on top of each cake, then layer them on top of each other. You can either reserve some of the frosting to frost around the sides as well, or keep all of the frosting on top of each cake.
If desired, you can top the cake with royal icing and/or nuts. To toast the nuts, simply lay them out on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven at 300 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes, keeping a close eye on them to make sure they don't burn. To layer them around the cake, simply place some nuts into the palm of your hand and gently press them into the frosting. Some nuts will slip down onto the cake stand, and that's okay!