In my teens, I learned to bake in a grocery store. Sometimes, a specialty cake slice would be too damaged to sell. Usually the icing was smudged and so my boss let me (or anyone) eat it.
I tried quite a few types of carrot cakes. Some had way too much icing, some were too spicy (heavy on the cardamom or nutmeg), and many were too bland.
The biggest turn offs for me were the carrot cake slices with mealy, mushy raisins or stale walnuts. Just one bite of a stale walnut made me want to stop eating it.
I gave up buying store-bought carrot cakes and forgot about making them for years. Guess I thought of them as needing walnuts. I was never keen on carrot cake with pineapple either. Blah.
Well, I finally took the plunge with my Crunchy WowButter and made the tastiest gluten-free carrot cake with gluten-free low fat cream cheese icing. No walnuts, no raisins (although you can add whatever you like).
If you aren't on a gluten-free diet, just omit the xanthan gum and use regular graham cracker crumbs. I had plenty of gluten-free graham crumbs leftover after I made WowButter Nanaimo Bars.
My Inspiration and Tweaks
Since I wanted to use up my Kinnikinnick gluten-free graham crumbs, I settled on tweaking a recipe for carrot cake that I found on the Planters website.
I also used gluten-free flour and xanthan gum (instead of regular flour) and less butter in place of the peanut oil. I swapped out the walnuts and used Crunchy WowButter instead. I used less sugar since Crunchy WowButter is sweeter than walnuts.
Pure icing sugar contains no gluten (I use Redpath brand) whenever I'm too lazy to make the icing. The cake is still great. Oh and I cut back on the nutmeg just a tad. Too much nutmeg is overpowering.
If you are on a strict gluten-free diet, you need to be aware that some baking powders may contain gluten.
The following brands are gluten-free: Rumford Baking Powder (Non-Aluminum), Bakewell Cream Baking Powder with Cornstarch (Aluminum-Free), Davis Baking Powder, Hain Pure Foods Featherweight Baking Powder, Hearth Club, and Clabber Girl.
I've been using Magic Baking Powder for over twenty years. It's reportedly gluten-free, although it is not labeled as such.
Lastly, I decided to find out the bake times for various sized pans in case you want to make your carrot cake a double layer, Bundt, loaves, muffins, or springform style cake.
By Making Two Loaves of Carrot Cake
I Use Less Cream Cheese Icing (Less Fat & Calories)
My Daughter Prefers Cupcakes With Icing
WowButter Carrot Cake With G-F Options
Serves: 12 | Prep: 40 mins | Total: 1.5 - 2 hrs
3 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if using regular flour)
1 tbsp. gluten-free baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 eggs (3 large eggs will work)
1 cup butter at room temp
1 and 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups finely shredded carrots (about 6 large)
3/4 cup WowButter (Crunchy)
2.5 - 3 cups worth of G-F Grahams Crumbs, finely crushed
Optional: Pure icing sugar to sprinkle on top (if no icing desired)
Dry Mixture, WowButter Mixture & Carrots
Once Everything Just "Comes Together"
Scrape Carrot Cake Dough Into Prepared Pan(s)
I Lift Cake Out With the Parchment Paper
And Just Flatten It Out On a Wire Cooling Rack
Gluten-Free Low Fat Cream Cheese Icing
For Single Layer Cake or Muffins | Total: 15 mins
I loosely based my recipe on Kraft's Classic Cream Cheese Frosting. At first, I thought using Neufchâtel would be healthier until I discovered that low-fat cream cheese has less cholesterol.
After a few tries, I finally came up with a frosting that I think everyone will enjoy.
NOTE: If you a making a double layer carrot cake (and icing the sides) you should double this recipe.