Perfectly moist (but not heavy) spice cake loaded with flavor and fresh carrots. The cake itself is paleo, and I’ve provided several options for delicious paleo and non-paleo frostings – because carrot cake isn’t complete without a creamy, tangy frosting! Try my carrot cake donuts next.
Let’s talk carrot cake.
Not in the mood for story time? Feel free to jump straight to the recipe at the bottom!
I’ve never been a fan of carrot cake, nor have I been a fan of cream cheese frosting. And having nuts in my cake has always made me cringe. So in essence, a serving of carrot cake is my nightmare dessert.
I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “So why ON EARTH are you putting a carrot cake on your blog?” Because I love you. That’s why.
But here’s the thing… I don’t hate it so much that I can’t possible be around it. I can deal with it enough to taste test it before handing it over to my husband to have him give me his carrot cake-loving opinion. His verdict?
Big fan. Real big fan.
You know who else was a fan of this? The cats. They wanted a bite so badly they were purring while circling the plate from which Bill was eating.
It started out as a casual sniffing of the air, as if to say, “My, what a pleasant aroma! I wonder what is emitting such a lovely scent.”
Which quickly turned to, “Heeeeeeeeey, girlfriend!” (we’ve determined that this cat is a fabulous gay man trapped inside a feline’s body, FYI)
And it ends in a culmination of not-so-subtle sniffing right up against the plate and trying to flip the plate on the ground to make it look like an accident.
We’re making this a two layer cake
So anyway, the cake.
I had originally planned to turn this into a three layer cake, but quite honestly I never make those because I feel like it’s just too much. It’s too tall for your fork, you have to lay the slice of cake down on it’s side to eat it, and it’s just generally a ton of food.
I don’t want my slices of cake the sizes of small planets, thankyouverymuch. It’s easier to slice, easier to serve, easier to eat, and just… easier. And I’m all about easier options these days.
I might not like carrot cake, but you know what? I have to admit – this one is pretty damn good. Not to toot my own horn here, but I think I may have a found a carrot cake recipe even I’d be willing to eat.
I’m not going to go crazy and eat an entire slice or anything, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at sneaking a bite or two.
Grating the carrots
Don’t stress out about grating the carrots. If you have a food processor with a shredding disc, then it’s going to be a breeze that’ll take you all of a minute or two.
If you don’t have one, you can certainly use a box grater – but it’s gonna take you a while. It’ll be worth it though, I swear.
But whatever you do, DO NOT USE PRE-SHREDDED CARROTS. I’m serious. Those bagged shredded carrots at the store are dry and terrible.
Spend the little bit of time to clean your carrots, peel them, and grate them. Just be careful with your hands because I love you and I don’t want you to get hurt. If you don’t have a grater, you just want to get one like this (affiliate link) and use the largest holes.
Why this carrot cake is so good
Let’s zoom in on this cake a bit.
Hopefully you can tell, but this isn’t a super dense cake. It’s moist, but not heavy. The nuts in the batter give it a nice soft crunch in each bite, but if you’re not down with nuts then just leave them out.
No harm, no foul. You may just end up with a little less height in your final product, but by no means will it be flat.
Frosting the cake
You’ll also miss out on decorating the frosting, which might be my favorite thing about this cake. It’s the simplest decoration I think I’ve ever done. Just a layer of frosting spread across the top and chopped pecans around the outer edge. That’s it.
No piping tips , no fondant, nothing crazy or difficult. I don’t even go out of my way to ensure the entire sides are covered, so I almost treat it like a mix between a naked cake and adding a crumb coat.
You can add as little or as much frosting as you’d like – just note that what you see in these pictures is the amount I list in my recipe below. Two layers of cake, a center layer of frosting, with a light coat around the edges and a decent layer on top.
Side note: If you’re in the market for one, I love my Wilton offset icing spatula for coating cakes. It’s lightweight, comfortable to hold, and works like a dream. Much like this frosting. Isn’t is dreamy looking?
That’s the only word I can come up with to describe it. For these pictures, you’re seeing a whipped cream cheese frosting, but I’ve provided options to two paleo frostings that I love as well if you’re truly trying to keep it paleo.
After you’ve made this recipe, please consider coming back to share your experience with others by leaving a comment below with a star rating!
Paleo Carrot Cake
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
- ¼ cup maple syrup or honey
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar or light brown sugar
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk, or other milk of choice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 cups carrots, freshly grated
- 2 cups paleo baking flour blend
- 1 ¾ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped and toasted, divided (optional, but encouraged)
Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting (my personal favorite, not paleo)
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure or clear vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9" round pans with coconut oil -- or spray with nonstick spray if not paleo -- and dust with gluten-free flour. Shake out the excess and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs, coconut oil, and sweetener and whisk to combine.
- Add applesauce, coconut sugar, almond milk, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg and cloves and whisk again to combine.
- Add carrots and flour and whisk to combine. Fold in 1 cup of the chopped nuts of choice.
- Divide batter evenly among the two prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost totally clean.
- Let cool in pants for 10 minutes, then move to wire rack to cool completely.
- In a medium bowl using a stand or hand mixer, whip heavy cream to stiff peaks. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and salt and beat until combined and smooth.
- Add the whipped cream mixture to the cream cheese mixture and whip for a few seconds to combine.
- Place one layer of the cake on cake stand or plate, and add ⅓ of the frosting on top, all the way to the edges. Place the other cake layer on top, then cover with the remaining frosting (on top, and around the edges). Garnish with remaining chopped nuts, slice, and enjoy!
- Store covered in fridge for up to 5 days.
- Nutritional information below is for the cake alone - does not include frosting since it would depend on which one you use.