Some desserts just go hand in hand with a specific time of year. Carrot Cake with Dairy Free Cream Cheese Frosting is a springtime classic. Bursting with the crunch of nuts and aromatic warm spices, there’s a reason this is a beloved sweet treat.
Carrot cake is to spring and Easter just as the Yule Log is to Christmas. While it’s the perfect sweet treat year-round there’s just something about it that makes it the perfect spring dessert. With the bounty of seasonal produce popping up after their winter nap, this is the ultimate way to celebrate.
Carrot Cake with Dairy Free Cream Cheese Frosting is the Gluten Free dessert that all of your friends and family will love. It combines the familiar flavors and that tender texture accented with the crunch of nuts with quality ingredients you have complete control over. This carrot cake recipe also gets a boost of extra flavor from carrot’s sassier sister, the parsnip.
- Carrots – Adds natural sweetness, texture, and moisture to this cake.
- Parsnips – Slightly spicier than carrots but with a similar flavor profile, they add complexity and depth to this carrot cake recipe.
- Vanilla Extract – The better the quality the vanilla extract, the more pronounced the flavor. This is used in both the cake and the cream cheese frosting.
- Walnut Oil – Adds nuttiness, depth, and moisture to this cake.
- Brown Sugar – Gives a slight caramel flavor and the molasses in the brown sugar makes this cake soft and tender.
- Javamelts Caramel Flavored Sugar – This sugar is made with 100% pure cane sugar. It is non GMO, Dairy Free, and made with natural flavors. It measures one to one for regular sugar while adding more depth and complexity.
- Gluten Free Flour – Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour is my go-to flour for both sweet and savory dishes. It makes it easy to measure for dishes that aren’t traditionally written as Gluten Free without having to add any additional ingredients.
- Baking Soda
- Baking Powder
- Unsweetened Cocoa – Adds dimension to this carrot cake.
- Spices – Cinnamon, cloves, and allspice bring warmth to every bite.
- Kosher Salt – Enhances all of the flavors of the ingredients.
- Dairy Free Cream Cheese – Adds tang to the frosting.
- Dairy Free Butter – Combined with the cream cheese, makes a silky, creamy frosting.
- Powdered Sugar – Easily dissolves into the frosting and adds sweetness.
How to Make Carrot Cake with Dairy Free Cream Cheese Frosting
Making homemade cake is not only easy and rewarding, but it gives you complete control over everything that goes into it. Unlike a boxed mix there are no mystery ingredients here, yet it is just as easy.
Time needed: 2 hours and 15 minutes
The hardest part of making this cake is patiently waiting for it to cool so you can frost it. The warm aromatic spices will perfume your entire home as it bakes, having you eagerly anticipating that first slice.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8″ round cake pans or a 9×13 with nonstick baking spray and set aside.
Add the eggs and sugars to a bowl and mix for three minutes. Add the oil and vanilla and mix to combine.
Add all of the dry ingredients, raisins, carrots, and parsnips to the bowl and mix until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.
Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans or the 9×13. Allow the cakes to bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.
Add all of the ingredients for the frosting to a mixing bowl and mix until smooth and creamy. Top your cake with the frosting and garnish with pecans or walnuts if desired.
This recipe is completely Gluten Free and Dairy Free. However, you can make the same recipe with all dairy ingredients including the frosting. You can also use regular all-purpose flour in this recipe.
Walnut oil adds a layer of nutty richness to this carrot and parsnip cake. However, if you don’t have walnut oil you can substitute this with canola oil or your favorite neutral baking oil.
This cake is a great make ahead dessert and will store well. Make sure your cake is securely covered, as it can dry out in the refrigerator. A good cake holder works well for this. If kept completely covered in an airtight container it will last for up to a week in the refrigerator. If you keep your cake at room temperature make sure that it remains tightly covered and it should be eaten within 24 hours.
Adjusting the recipe for a smaller portion
If you’re looking to make a smaller portion of this cake, you’re in luck. You can easily cut the ingredients in half and prepage it in a 8” round cake pan
Top Tip For Carrot Cake with Dairy Free Cream Cheese Frosting
Tangy sweet and creamy cream cheese frosting is as much about the decadent texture as it is the flavor. To ensure that your frosting is silky smooth and lump free, make sure that both your Dairy Free butter and cream cheese is at room temperature. This will allow everything to mix together smoothly and with ease.
Gluten Free Flours
My go to for baking is Bob’s Red Mill 1:1. It is a blend of several different gluten free ingredients and I find it just works consistently well for what I need. I could blend flour myself but I choose to spend my time other ways and the 1:1 is a really good product.
Oat Flour can give you a chewier, more moist product. It can lend a nice sweet flavor to baked foods and is a flour I tend to mix with others if I want a lighter or fluffy result. I am always very careful to buy organic gluten free oats because they can be sprayed with nasty stuff and be processed in a way that they are no longer gluten free.
Almond Flour has a nice nutty flavor but can tend to dry out what you are preparing. I like to balance it with an extra egg if I am adding it to meatloaf for example and add banana or egg if it is in a sweet treat. Your end product could be a bit denser if you are using straight almond flour as well. I do like using almond flour as bread crumbs or a crunchy topping on savory dishes.
Arrowroot is my normal choice for a thickener in sauce or gravy. It is great for things you want a good crunch on that would normally be dredged in flour. Arrowroot can also be used to temper other gluten free flours for sweets and baked goods.
Brown Rice Flour can also be used in combination with other gluten free flours for baked goods. I like to use it when making a roux and brown rice noodles are a favorite.
More Gluten Free Flours
Amaranth is another gluten free flour that works well when blended. It has a nice nutty flavor that makes it good for crusts, tortillas and breads.
Coconut Flour has a bit of a sweet coconut flavor. It tends to absorb liquid so you will need to adjust your recipe but it does give a nice light texture.
Corn Flour is a great thickener, makes delicious tortillas and one of my favorites, corn bread. Just make sure the corn flour you are buying was proceed in a gluten free environment and from a clean source.
Cassava Flour is the most similar to white or all purpose flour but can be expensive if you are using it often and is high in carbohydrates.
Tapioca is a great thickener as well for soups, pies and sauces and works well when combined with other flours.
Chickpea or garbanzo is used often in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine… Think hummus, falafel, flatbreads. It has lots of healthy benefits and a mild nutty flavor. You can also use the water from the beans, called aquafaba, as an egg replacer or instead of cream for whipped cream. Crazy, I know, but it works so stop dumping it down the drain.
Gluten Free Grains
The gluten free grains we grab for most often are…
Quinoa- easy to make and flavor and is high in fiber and protein. It is actually one of the plant proteins that is a complete protein.
Oats are also good for fiber and a bit of protein but make sure they are clean and gluten free.
Buckwheat actually has no wheat in it but does have fiber, protein and trace minerals. I love buckwheat noodles. I also add them to salads and soups for texture and a bit of “chew”.
Carrot Cake with Dairy Free Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 mixing bowl/mixer
- 2 8" round cake pans or 1 9×13 cake dish
- 2 cups carrots, shredded
- 2 cups parsnips, shredded
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup walnut oil, can substitute with canola oil
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup Javamelts Caramel Flavored Sugar
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 2 cups Gluten Free 1.1 flour
- 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp orange zest
Dairy Free Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 oz Dairy Free cream cheese, room temperature
- 8 tbsp Dairy Free butter, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 8" round cake pans or 1 9×13 cake pan with nonstick baking spray and set aside.
- Add the eggs and sugars to a bowl and mix for 3 minutes until frothy and the sugars are mostly dissolved.
- Add the oil and vanilla and mix to combine.
- Add the flour, spices, salt, raisins, carrots, and parsnips and mix until just combined.
- Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans or spread into the single 9×13.
- Allow the cake to bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool completely before frosting.
- To make your frosting add all of the ingredients to a bowl. Mix until smooth and creamy.
- Spread the frosting onto the cakes. Garnish with walnuts or pecans if desired.