I have a very close friend who, due to health issues, must stick to very strict diet restrictions. Naturally, this means that he doesn’t get to eat some of his favorite foods anymore, things like pizza and matzo ball soup, unless it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, and lacks certain other foods like onions and garlic.
Carrot cake is a favorite treat of his. We were both unsure about the recipe the first time I made this, but once we tried it we were both pleasantly surprised by the flavor and texture (a common complaint with gluten-free cakes). Now whenever he comes back to Arizona, he requests the same cake (which he freezes and eats piece-by-piece by himself). Please note that this is NOT egg-free. The original recipe uses flax eggs to make it vegan, but I used real chicken eggs.
After some searching and negotiating ingredients, I decided to alter this recipe for gluten-free, vegan carrot cake from renowned food blogger Gimme Some Oven.
VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE CARROT CAKE INGREDIENTS:
- 2.5 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend, plus extra for dusting the pans
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- pinch of ground cloves
- pinch of ground ginger
- 1 pound carrots, peeled
- Stevia equivalent to 1 cup of granulate sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE “CREAM CHEESE” FROSTING INGREDIENTS:
- 8 cups gluten-free powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) vegan butter or margarine
- 3 Tablespoons non-dairy milk
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- pinch of salt
Note on the Ingredients: I use Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour rather than adding the flours together myself. For the vegan butter, I use soy-free Earth Balance brand vegan margarine. I chose coconut milk for the frosting for the sweeter taste.
While mixing ingredients, the batter smells like the inside of a rotted jack o’lantern. Adjust the spices to taste (I know the batter doesn’t taste very good). Usually I can adjust the spices in the ratio indicated in the recipe until the smell improves.
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use vegan margarine to thoroughly grease the inside of 2 9-in pans. Dust the inside of each pan with gluten-free flour.
A common method is to coat the pan by turning it like a steering wheel over the sink.
2) In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (gluten-free flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, cloves and ginger) until combined.
3) Using a blender or food processor, shred or blend the carrots.
I prefer my carrots well-blended to avoid a chunky texture.
4) Transfer the carrots to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Wipe out the blender or food processor. Add the Stevia, brown sugar, and eggs and blend until frothy.
5) While the blender or food processor is running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream. Blend the egg mixture until well mixed.
6) Add the carrots and dry ingredients to the blender or food processor. Blend all of the ingredients together into a smooth batter.
This is the point where you should taste the batter! If it smells bad, add more cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.
7) Pour batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes. While the cake bakes, mix the frosting ingredients together.
8) Let cake cool completely in the pans on a wire rack for about 1 hour. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen. Remove cake, if transferring to a different serving platter, and frost as desired.
Once I removed the cakes from the pan, I had to scrape some leftover flour off of the bottoms.
Final Thoughts: This is a tried and true recipe, though I understand that adding spices “to taste” can be a frustrating instruction. Vegan baking and using substitutions can be difficult. Each time I bake this I’m still never 100% sure that it turned out properly. I’ve played with the frosting in an attempt to reduce the processed sugar, but I can’t use milk powder to thicken. This recipe tastes the best so far. Does anyone have any suggestions?