This Gluten-Free Carrot Cake will become a go-to recipe when you’re in need of a quickly and easily prepared cake which people will love. This is a simple, one-layer cake, perfect for many occasions. Grated carrots are, of course, the star ingredient. As well as providing beautiful colour and natural sweetness, they make this cake deliciously moist and tender.
Why we love this recipe:
This gluten-free cake is gently spiced and has a beautiful texture. It is suitable for many occasions; serve it for morning tea, for dessert, take on a picnic or to a potluck. It is a cake that you will receive many a request for!
You can confidently serve this cake to people who don’t need to avoid gluten. They will never know; we do not sacrifice the flavour and texture to make this cake suitable for people who are unable to eat gluten.
One of the great advantages of this cake is that you can make it a day ahead and it will still be deliciously moist.
As well, the moist textured, gently spiced cake is embellished by a luxurious, rich, cream cheese frosting. It is, of course, optional. If you prefer, you could keep the cake dairy free and give it a light dusting of icing/confectioners’ sugar.
Many carrot cakes contain walnuts. I have chosen to make the cake nut-free, but you could add nuts if you like to add some texture.
Ingredients in this recipe:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
Oil – the oil adds moisture to the cake. Use a neutral flavoured oil; I used grapeseed.
Caster/superfine sugar – this sugar dissolves more readily than granulated sugar.
Vanilla extract – use good quality which has been naturally extracted from the vanilla bean and not synthetically produced.
Eggs – I use large free-range eggs.
Grated carrot – adds flavour, colour and moisture to the cake. Be sure to grate your carrots fresh.
Sultanas/golden raisins – these are dried, seedless, white grapes which add another flavour and texture dimension.
Gluten-free plain/all-purpose flour – I have used a commercial gluten-free flour which is made from a blend of naturally occurring gluten-free flours. Our gluten-free flour blends contain either xanthan or guar gum to stabilise and provide structure to our recipes.
Gluten-free baking powder – always check labels to ensure ingredients are gluten-free.
Ground cinnamon – adds gentle spice which complements the creamy frosting.
Cream cheese – I use full fat cream cheese which is readily available in supermarkets.
Icing/confectioners’ sugar – I use pure icing/confectioners’ sugar, sometimes known as powdered sugar. If you use a blend, ensure that it is gluten-free.
Step by step instructions:
To begin, grease the sides and line the base of a 21cm/8 ¼ inch ring tin or 19 cm/7 ½ inch springform tin. Then, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C/355 F.
Be sure to have all your ingredients prepared before you start making the Gluten-Free Carrot Cake.
- Place oil, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or into a bowl to use hand-held electric beaters. Beat until they are well combined.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition, and continue to beat until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. The eggs will emulsify with the oil.
- Stir through the grated carrot and sultanas.
- Gradually sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon over the bowl and fold in gently using a spatula to avoid knocking out the air.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. After standing about 10 minutes, turn the cake onto a rack. Remove the baking paper and leave to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, place cream cheese and vanilla in a small bowl and mix well together until smooth.
- Sift the icing sugar to remove any lumps, add to the cream cheese and mix until it forms a smooth, creamy frosting.
- Spread onto the top of the cake and decorate with chopped walnuts if using.
Tips for success and FAQs:
Without gluten, your cake does not have the strength of regular wheat-based flour. This can cause some cakes to sink in the middle – but, I have several tips to avoid this happening.
First, if you have a ring tin, use that – the cake will cook evenly as there is no centre to sink. Cakes sometimes sink as too much air has been incorporated. Be sure to not overbeat the mixture. And, always fold in the flour gently. Always put the cake in the oven as soon as the mixture is ready, and be sure to not open the door before the cake mixture has set.
One of the most common reasons that cakes sink in the middle is that the cake has not cooked long enough. Be sure to check it carefully.
If you have used a springform tin and the cake has sunk slightly in the middle, turn it upside down. This way, you will have a flat base on which to apply your cream cheese frosting.
Yes, you certainly can. This is a very moist cake which lends itself to being made a day ahead. As well, you can make the frosting a day in advance and store it in the fridge until ready to use. You will need to return it to room temperature so that it is spreadable. If it is difficult to spread, dip your knife into a glass of hot water to help spread the frosting.
If you have made your cake a day ahead and it is not frosted, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If the weather is hot or humid, store it well covered in the refrigerator. Once you have added the frosting, store it in an airtight container or well covered with cling wrap in the fridge for up to 5 days.
For the best flavour, I like to use a regular block of full-fat cream cheese, not the spreadable kind. You must wait to frost the cake until it is cold. If you try to add the cream cheese mixture while the cake is still warm, the frosting will melt and slide off.
There are some ingredients, such as the grated carrots in this recipe, which add moisture. Other ingredients which add moisture to gluten-free cakes are apple sauce or pumpkin puree. Sour cream, brown sugar, honey and buttermilk also help retain moisture. As well, you need to measure your ingredients accurately which is why we show weight amounts as well as volume. Using a scale is more accurate. Further, it is important to not over-bake. Your cake is cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
More delicious recipes for you to try:
Our gluten-free cakes all have one thing in common – you would never know they were gluten-free! Here are some more of our favourite recipes for you to try:
- Easy Blueberry Cake
- Chocolate and Sour Cream Cake
- Almond Cake
- Belgian Lemon Tea Cake
- Vegan Chocolate Cake
- Four Ingredient Fruit Cake
- Pear and Raspberry Cake
This is a no-fuss recipe, so quickly and easily made. It is ideal for the family but sufficiently delicious to serve to guests. It is ideal for morning or afternoon tea and the cream cheese frosting makes it ideal to serve as a dessert.
I hope you will give our Gluten-Free Carrot Cake a try. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
This post was originally published in February 2019. It has been updated with new photos and more information. The recipe remains the same.
Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) neutral flavoured oil – I use grapeseed See Note 1
- 3/4 cup (165 gm) superfine/caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract See Note 2
- 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 1 1/2 cups (145 gm) grated carrot (approx. 2 large carrots) See Note 3
- 1/2 cup (80 gm) sultanas/golden raisins
- 1 cup (150 gm) gluten free plain flour See Note 4
- 1 1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder See Note 5
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 5 tbsp (100 gm) cream cheese (at room temperature) See Notes 6 and 7
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup (150 gm) pure icing sugar
For the Cake:
- Preheat your oven to 180 Degrees C (355F).
- Cut some non-stick baking paper to line the base of a 21cm/8 ¼ inch ring tin or 19 cm/7 ½ inch springform tin and grease the sides.
- Ensure that you have all your ingredients measured and ready to use.
- Place oil, sugar & vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or into a bowl, to use hand-held electric beaters.Beat until they are well combined.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition, and continue to beat until light & creamy, about 2 minutes. Do not overbeat. The eggs will emulsify with the oil.
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, (if using) stir through the grated carrot and sultanas.
- Gradually sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon over the bowl and fold in gently using a spatula to avoid knocking out the air. Mix until just combined.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared ring tin or springform tin.
- Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.If using the ring tin, stand for about 10 minutes before turning the cake onto a rack. If using the springform tin, remove the sides and then stand the cake for about 15 minutes. Gently turn onto a cooling rack.
- Remove the baking paper and leave the cake to cool completely before frosting.
For the Frosting:
- Place cream cheese and vanilla in a small bowl and mix well together until smooth.Sift the icing sugar to remove any lumps. Add to the cream cheese and mix until it forms a smooth, creamy frosting.
- Spread the frosting over the cake.
- Store the cake in air tight container or well covered in the fridge.
- Use a neutral flavoured oil of your choice. I used grapeseed oil.
- For the best flavour, use vanilla which has been extracted from vanilla beans. Avoid synthetically flavoured vanilla.
- I used 2 large carrots to get this weight. Ensure you freshly grate your carrot. Pre-grated carrot will be too dry for this cake.
- I have used a commercial gluten-free plain/all-purpose flour which is made from a blend of naturally occurring gluten-free flours. However, you can substitute regular plain/all-purpose flour if you don’t need the cake to be gluten-free. Our gluten-free flour blends contain either xanthan or guar gum to stabilise and provide structure to our recipes.
- Check the label to ensure that the baking powder is gluten-free.
- Use cream cheese from the block available in supermarkets, not the spreadable kind.
- The Australian tablespoon is 20ml or 4 teaspoons. In many other countries, the tablespoon is 15 ml or 3 teaspoons. Please adjust your measurement if necessary.
- I have used pure icing/confectioners’ sugar as it is naturally gluten-free. Pure icing sugar tends to clump together and needs to be sifted before using. If using icing mixture, ensure that it is gluten-free.
- Please note, the nutritional information is based on the cake being sliced into 8 pieces. The nutritional information is an estimate only.