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!
Let’s talk carrot cake.
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 Bill 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.
I’ll get back to the cake in a minute, but I’d like to take a moment to talk about this orange and white meowing pile of fur named Padfoot.
I don’t recall if I’ve really introduced you to Padfoot, but in case I haven’t, here’s his Tinder profile:
He enjoys long walks around the house, toy rattle mousies, real mousies, chicken broth, sleeping, sunbeams, sleeping in sunbeams, yogurt and cuddling his daddy. Oh, and meowing. A LOT.
He hasn’t been feeling well lately, and while he’s not dying or been given some terrible health diagnosis, it is sad to see him moping around the house the last few weeks. He’s limping around (he has a history of bad knees), his eyes are all weepy and he’s just generally grumpy. For a cat that’s always wide eyed, jumping around and meowing (really, really loudly), it’s concerning.
So while I’m not a cat person, he and his brother are a part of my life now and I would hate to see anything happen to them. I’m just hoping he gets back to his purring, active self soon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Don’t forget that if you’re ever curious about which products I use, you can always find them over on my Shop page!
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar (or light brown sugar)
- 1/2 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
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 cups carrots, freshly grated
- 2 cup gluten free 1-to-1 flour
- 1 3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped and toasted, divided (optional, but encouraged)
Paleo Frosting Options:
Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting (my personal favorite, not paleo)
- 1 1/2 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 cooking 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, 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 1/3 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.