Gluten Free Carrot Cake Recipe

The thing I hate most about gluten-free baking is that every recipe seems to call for way too many ingredients.  In my baking, as with my cooking, I prefer to keep it simple.  I like recipes that I can prepare with things I have laying around my house, or at the very least, things I will use again.  Gluten free baking seems to depend on a number of different starches and flours, and if I had a bag full of every kind of flour I’ve read about in recipes…well, I’d have a pantry full of bags.

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The amazing baker, with her cakes, at Life Grocery-Cafe. Whether you are gluten-free, vegan, or just looking for a healthy alternative, I highly recommend you check this place out!!

The inspiration for this recipe comes from the amazing quinoa-based cakes at Life Grocery in Marietta, GA.  Their cakes are incredibly moist (not easy to do in gluten-free baking), sweet but not too sweet, and best of all, are made with quinoa, which is a complete protein.   Unfortunately, these cakes are about 20 minutes away from my house, and it’s a rainy-lazy day…so I decided to give it a whirl and make my own.  I didn’t have big hopes of creating a cake that begins to match the awesomeness of Life’s carrot cake, and to be honest I really wanted to see what I could do with just the ingredients I have at the house.  It would be blasphemy to suggest that (cough) my cake was better than Life Grocery’s (IMPOSSIBLE!), but…it was good in a different way.  A little more moist.  Just saying.

I’m sure there are scientific reasons why gluten-free recipes usually require a blend of multiple flours, but I don’t think baking or cooking should be that complicated.   I will say, however, that in my own baking I have discovered that brown rice flour used by itself yields a product that basically just tastes like brown rice—same with oat flour, quinoa flour, almond meal, etc.   So, I made flour out of equal parts of three grains—oat, brown rice, and quinoa—and added a little xantham gum for good luck.  And it totally worked.

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So here it is, the recipe!  As you read down the ingredients list, imagine me scouring my fridge for potential ingredients—because that’s exactly what I did.  For instance, pineapple.  Um…you see, I had an extra little fruit cup leftover from my daughter’s snack stash—she decided she hated pineapple after she’d eaten five of them.  So I figured I’d use it now or end up throwing it away one day…and I’m glad I did!  My advice is to not go out and buy a bunch of apples or pineapple just because I used them—look around your kitchen to see what you can throw in!  Zucchini, banana, pumpkin, and squash would all be good choices.

  • ½ cup dry oats (be careful to use gluten-free oats, or omit and use coconut instead)
  • ½ cup dry brown rice
  • ½ cup dry quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon xantham gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • cinnamon
  • pumpkin pie spice (I was out of nutmeg….)
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 small green apple, grated
  • ½ cup crushed pineapple
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine oil and brown sugar and mix until smooth; whisk in eggs.  Add fruits to sugar mixture, and then stir into dry mixture.  Bake in greased cake pan at 350 for 45 minutes, or until fork inserted into the middle comes out clean.  I covered with tinfoil for the second half of the baking time. Top with cream cheese frosting.