Shortcuts can make life easier, but they don't always guarantee the best results. Take cake baking, for example. You could dump a box of powdered mix in a bowl, stir in a few ingredients and be done with it. Or, you could take the extra time to measure, mix and create a dessert masterpiece that's not only healthier but tastes (and even looks!) better, too. This classic carrot cake may seem complicated, but the trick is to tackle it in two steps. Make the frosting first, then bake. The slice that ends up on your plate is well worth the extra bit of work!
Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Orange Peel Cream Cheese Frosting
1-1/2 cups carrots, finely grated
2 cups gluten-free oat flour
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. coconut sugar, sucanat or pure cane sugar
2 tsp. Frontier® Organic Baking Powder
2 tsp.Frontier® Organic Ceylon Cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp. Frontier® Organic Ground Ginger Root
3/4 tsp. Frontier® Organic Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Frontier® Sea Salt
1/4 tsp. Frontier® Organic Allspice
4 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. Simply Organic® Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
Optional topping: Crystalized ginger, finely grated orange peel or finely shredded carrots
Homemade powdered sugar
3/4 cup cane sugar
3/4 cup coconut sugar* or sucanat
1-1/2 tsp. arrowroot starch or corn starch
Cream cheese frosting
16 oz. Neufchatel cream cheese
3 Tbsp. full-fat Greek yogurt
1-1/2 cups homemade powdered sugar
2 tsp. Frontier® Organic Orange Peel
3/4 tsp. Frontier® Orange Flavor
1/2 tsp. Simply Organic® Vanilla Extract
To make frosting:
- In blender, combine all powdered sugar ingredients. Start processing on low, then increase to highest setting until sugar is fully powdered. Blend in two batches if necessary.
- Measure out 1-1/2 cups of icing and store remainder in a sealed container for another use.
- In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and yogurt on medium-high speed until completely smooth.
- Add powdered sugar and beat on low, increasing to medium until fully combined and smooth.
- Beat in orange zest, vanilla extract and orange flavoring until fully combined.
- Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or overnight) before frosting cake.
To make carrot cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8" round pans thoroughly with coconut oil or butter.
- Press carrots between layers of paper towels and lightly blot. Set aside.
- In large bowl, whisk together oat flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and allspice.
- In another bowl, whisk eggs, then whisk in milk, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla until thoroughly mixed. Whisk in coconut oil and add mixture to dry ingredients. Whisk until just combined. Fold in carrots. Pour equal amounts of batter into cake pans and spread to level out.
- Bake cakes on middle rack of oven for 36 to 42 minutes. Test each cake with a toothpick for doneness.
- Cool cakes on racks for 1 hour. Slide a knife around edge of pans to loosen. Remove cakes from pans and place on cooling rack. Allow to fully cool before frosting.
- On cake plate, place one cake layer and evenly spread about 1/3 of frosting on top. Add the next layer; frost top and sides. Top fosted cake with shredded carrots or crystalized ginger, if desired.
- If you can't tolerate gluten-free oat flour, substitute with a high quality all-purpose gluten-free flour (outcome will vary slightly from original).
- Oat flour can be ground in a blender or food processor from organic and gluten-free oat groats, steel cut oats or rolled oats (not quick oats) until flour-like in texture. Sift out any larger pieces if necessary. It's best ground in 1-cup batches.
- Almond meal can be ground from organic raw almonds (leaving the skin on is OK) in a blender or food processor until flour-like in texture. Sift out any large pieces if necessary. It's best ground in 1-cup batches.
- Traditional organic powdered sugar can be used instead of the homemade variety above. Frosting will be very spreadable and soft. For a stiffer frosting use full-fat cream cheese and omit Greek yogurt.
*This homemade powdered sugar lends a caramel-like flavor from the coconut sugar (no coconut taste!) and is less refined than traditional powdered sugar. It can be made using all pure cane sugar if needed.