Let’s talk Carrot Cake. As a young girl it disgusted me. I couldn’t believe people were willing to eat something so flat and dry and filled with carrots! At any family gathering I was horrified by this concept of vegetables in a sweet cake. Forget about it!
However, now that I’m all growed up, and a mature married woman, it’s time to face the facts: carrots and cakes are allowed to mix. It’s my husband’s favorite cake, especially cold out of the fridge the following day, so this loathed desert became something I was obligated to master. After studying roughly 50,000 carrot cake recipes over the years, and implementing a few ideas of my own, we’ve finally settled on what is the ultimate carrot cake from Heaven, a.k.a. from Hawaii.
Now, although carrots and cake never felt like a natural option for me, Pinapple and cake certainly did. I could take this idea and have fun with it: just let the pineapple and carrots hang out together for a while, let their good friend walnut come along, the spice children need to be inluded in the form of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. This fine Hawaiian gethering is starting to look really good to me.
When baking gluten-free, moisture is often an issue. So to counter the dryness that so often happens, the secret super moist ingredient of carrot puree baby food was added. No it’s not gross at all. If you just had to, you could steam and puree your own carrots to get the job done… but why add lengthy unnecessary steps? The natural baby food jars (with only carrots and water as ingredients) are just the right amount of moisture and flavor without all the added work.
Heavy on the pineapple and carrots (I put in more than most recipes call for) with a strong spice combo, this cake is not an airy fluffy cloud. It’s a hearty, dense and satisfying gateau that truly does pack in the nutrients. Top it with a lighter version of a cream cheese frosting (with lemon zest and vanilla bean paste) and this is a carrot dream light years away from what I remember as a child.
- 2 generous cups grated carrots
- ½ cup crushed pineapple*
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 3 cups gluten free baking flour mix, divided**
- 2½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 5 eggs
- 1½ cups sugar***
- 1½ cups coconut oil, melted****
- 10 ounces pureed carrot baby food
- FOR THE ICING:
- 12 ounces (about 1½ packs) of cream cheese, room temp
- ½ cup (1 stick) soft butter
- 1⅓ cup powder sugar
- 2 Tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (bourbon vanilla bean paste!)
- ½ cup chopped pineapple
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep two circle 9 inch cake pans by lining with parchment paper and spray with Pam.
- In the first bowl, toss together the carrots, walnuts and pineapple. Add ½ cup of flour and set aside.
- In a second bowl mix together the dry ingredients: the remaining 2½ cups flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, soda, powder and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs and sugar together. Watch for them to lighten and become thicker, at least 3-5 minutes of beating. When it reaches this point, add the baby carrot puree and coconut oil while softly.
- Gently add the dry ingredients next. Fold in the carrots/pineapple/walnut mixture from before to create a light loose batter.
- Divide batter between the two pans and bake for 35 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and they are springy in the middle, not jiggly.
- Let the cakes cool in the pans, on a rack, for at least 15 minutes. Remove and let them finish cooling out of the pan on the racks. Frost when completely cooled.
- TO MAKE THE FROSTING: beat together the cream cheese and butter for 3-5 minutes, until it lightens up. Add the sugar and vanilla next until reached desired sweetness. Beat another minute until light and fluffy. Throw in the remaining ingredients and gently mix.