Perfectly spiced with a tender crumb, this carrot cake is a family favorite for birthdays, Easter, and just because. Naturally sweetened and gluten-free too.
Among my stockpile of much-loved recipes, there are a few I “save.” I wasn’t sure exactly what I was saving this special recipe for–maybe fall when carrots are officially seasonal or Easter when it would be a delightful addition to the holiday table. But last weekend, the perfect reason to share this delicious cake occurred: my dad’s 80th birthday.
Lightly adapted from this recipe, the use of almond flour creates a naturally gluten-free dessert, making it ideal for family and friends who are officially gluten-free. Yet this recipe is always devoured by the full-on gluten-eaters, too. This carrot cake is moist, flavorful and surprisingly healthy, and the wholesome ingredient list always comes as a big surprise to those requesting the recipe.
I remember the first time I baked this cake. It was an experiment for one of my Dad’s earlier birthdays, and I briefly questioned the wisdom of experimenting when 20 people would be expecting a good dessert! My sister-in-law graciously made brownies as a last-minute back-up. The temperature that day was approaching 100 degrees with high humidity. It occurred to me that the icing might melt right off the cake. Unbelievably, it held up beautifully and the guests raved about the cake and requested the recipe. Most importantly, the birthday boy was thrilled.
So, for my dad’s recent 80th birthday, we threw him a surprise party. I toiled over the dinner menu a bit, but I knew from the start that this would be the cake. For the occasion, I had a baker with commercial-size cake pans make my recipe. The round cake, pictured above, was three times larger than what I normally bake. We also used a traditional buttercream icing instead of the lighter recipe (included below) that I typically employ. The star of the evening was, without a doubt, my amazing father…but the cake was a pretty big hit, too.
I don’t often include many personal photos, but following the recipes and a couple more cake picture are a few of my favorites from the night. Truth be told, I could have included a lot more! 🙂
- 3 cups blanched almond flour (11.85 ounces/335 grams)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 5 eggs (1 1/4 cups)
- 1/2 cup honey or pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup canola or melted coconut oil (see notes)
- 3 cups carrots, grated (9 ounces/255 grams)
- 2/3 cup raisins (4 ounces/115 grams)
- 2/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (2.5 ounces/70 grams)
- Frosting (see following recipe or use your favorite buttercream icing recipe)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.
In a separate large bowl, mix together eggs, honey or maple syrup, and oil.
Stir carrots, raisins and nuts into the wet ingredients.
Stir the wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
Evenly divide the batter into two well-greased, round 9-inch cake pans. For easier removal, I like to line the greased pans with a piece of parchment paper. (Trace bottom of pan and cut for perfect size circle.)
Bake for 30 minutes or until just cooked through. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, and then remove to a rack and cool completely before frosting.
- Bring all ingredients to room temperature before mixing when using coconut oil. This will prevent the oil from re-hardening when it comes into contact with the cold ingredients.
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey (3 3/4 ounces/105 ml)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract (1/2 ounce/15 ml)
- 3/4 cup heavy cream (6 1/2 ounces/180 ml)
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the honey and vanilla. Refrigerate until cold.
In a chilled bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. I use my stand mixer with the whisk attachment and beat for approximately 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times.
With a rubber spatula, gently blend whip cream into the cream cheese mixture.
Frost the cake and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.