Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Carrot Cake...An Easter Tradition

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Carrot Cake
 I love Spring.  I really feel lighter on my feet and happier in my heart when the weather is nice.  Why is that ?  I should be steady.  Able to go with the flow, as the saying goes.  But, my moods seem to be intricately connected to the weather.  The flux of weather in Colorado makes me crazy.  Seriously.  Crazy.  It changes enough to keep you guessing about what it will be like on Easter.  It is not at all unusual for it to snow.  But, when it does snow on Easter, we all still wake up, look at each other, baffled,  and talk about how crazy it is that it snowed.  Actually,  I think it snowed last Easter.  I remember not being able to hide the Easter baskets outside in the backyard due to the damned snow on the ground.  I had to go to Plan B.  I hide them somewhere inside the house and each of my kids hunt around for their basket.  Oscar and Elliot are getting older, however,  and don't find that "necessary", according to Elliot.  If I have to use Plan B this year he suggested I just leave their baskets next to their beds.  Ouch.  A stab to your mother's heart, young man!  Oh, well.  Time, it goes a marchin' doesn't it?  They are getting older and I am going  to start lying about my age!  That's life. 

Whether we have to use Plan B or not, I just love Easter Day.  I love the food, the preparation, the gathering of family and friends.  But,  I think I love the Easter theme and decorations most of all.  All of those bunnies and fuzzy chicks.  Baskets, pretty colors, and Easter bonnets on little girls.  Miniature ties and shined up shoes on the little boys.  It's just over-the-top cute.  "Cute" is definitely the right word.  I wouldn't ever consider myself a woman who gushes over the cute-factor of things.  I prefer urban decor, sharp lines, muted colors.  But when it comes to stuffing Easter baskets full of yummy gluten- and dairy-free treats and bright, little stuffed animals all laid out deliberately (I take this process VERY seriously and am a bit anal about it),  I'm a goner.  I just love it.  Blizzard outside of my house or not, I will have a giant, toothy smile on my face Easter Day and I will be terribly happy.  I am always happy on Easter.  Especially when I serve the Gluten- and Dairy-Free Carrot Cake.  As in a lot of homes in America, Carrot Cake is an Easter tradition in our home.  I hope that one day my grown-up kids will have carrot cake at Easter with their own children.  That would just make a mama's grin.  My job here is done.

The carrot cake is a classic.  And as a classic, not much has been changed in a long, long time.  It just doesn't need to change.  Most of us making this cake use the creaming method to get the eggs to do their leavening job.  In my gluten free version this is especially important.  Of course the baking powder and baking soda kick in their two-cents, but creaming the eggs and sugars for the time I've specified is important.  My gluten- and dairy-free version is another recipe that Grandma Helen influenced.   I used to make her gluten-full version and it was "to die"!  When my family went gluten and dairy free, I knew I needed to keep the essence of Grandmas cake.  Her recipe is very similar to the one in Joy of Cooking.  I suspect that is where her inspiration came from.  Love that book, btw.

                  Gluten- and Dairy-Free Carrot Cake   

147 g (1 cup) white rice flour
35 g (1/4 cup + 1 Tbs + 1 tsp) almond flour
37 g (1/4 cup) potato starch
42 g (1/4 cup + 1 Tbs) tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp Egg Replacer                                            
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4 eggs, room temperature
162 g (3/4 cup) white sugar
122 g (1/4 cup, packed)  brown sugar
240 ml (1 cup) walnut oil
2 tsp vanilla)
170 g (3/4 cup) unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
140 g (1 cup) chopped hazelnuts, toasted in 350 degree F. oven for 8 minutes
260 g (2 1/2 cups) carrots, shredded  (I used my food processor to shred them until they were tiny)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray 2, 8-inch round baking pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.  Whisk together first 12 ingredients, to the allspice.

In your stand-mixer or using a hand-mixer, beat the eggs for at least one minute on medium speed.  Add the sugars gradually and cream them with the eggs for about 4 minutes.  Add the oil in a stream while the stand- mixer is on low, then add the vanilla.  Mix for another minute.  Add the applesauce and mix until incorporated.  Fold in the hazelnuts and carrots.

Divide cake batter between the two prepared baking pans.  Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.  DO NOT leave the cakes in the pans any longer as they are likely to get soggy bottoms!  After 10 minutes, invert the cakes onto the cooking racks to let cool completely.  In the meantime, let's make the frosting...
Gluten- and Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz (1 container) Tofutti cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz (1/2 stick) Earth Balance
4 Tbs Spectrum vegetable shortening
230 g (2 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla

In a stand-mixer or using your hand-mixer, beat cream cheese and butter together until very soft and creamy.  Add shortening and mix well.  Remove the bowl of the mixer and sift one cup of the powdered sugar into the mixing bowl, mix well.  Repeat with second cup of powdered sugar.  Add vanilla and mix will.  The frosting should be the right consistency to spread it on the cake, but if it is too soft, place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

When cakes are completely cooled, slice each one horizontally in half with a serrated knife.  Frost between each section and then frost entire cake.  If your kitchen is warm, you might think about placing the cakes into the fridge too to prime for frosting.  When cake is completely frosted, press hazelnuts all around the side of the cake.  Enjoy!  Let me know how you did!

Isaiah and Quinn helping me with my cake photos!


  1. We love carrot cake here, too. I usually throw a cup of pineapple tidbits in mine to help keep it moist. I'm sure you used shredded carrots in yours, too.

    Our 14yo would be happy to dispense with the basket hiding, too, but he knows he needs to keep up the charade for his 6yo brother. Looks like your cake was a real hit with the kids. Thanks for sharing.

  2. laxsupermom, I CANNOT believe I forgot to mention the carrots in my CARROT CAKE!!! What a goof I am! Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing that to my attention in such a sweet and gentle way!
    My older boys have PROMISED me that they will keep the Easter Bunny alive in our house for the little ones. I would be devasted if they blew it for them. But, they're good boys, i believe they will continue to go along!
    Thanks so very much for your comment. Keep cookin'!


I look forward to any and all comments from readers. Feel free to correct me, enlighten me, and encourage me!