Carrot cake feels like an essential part of any bakers repertoire so although there must be trillions of carrot cake recipes out there I needed to get this one right. The testing for this recipe began early this year and, it’s December now. Queue an exaggerated eye roll.
Gluten-free and vegan baking does not respond well to variables like carrots and walnuts. In every test, I had to account for the moisture in the carrots and the weight of the walnuts on the highly sensitive and sometimes elusive gluten-free crumb. And boy, did I want crumb. I wanted this cake to have a light, highly moisturized, structurally-sound crumb.
A year of fierce testing later and, I finally have in my repertoire a gluten-free and vegan carrot cake recipe to be proud of. 2020 is saved! While I’m sure no one is quick to associate the holiday season with carrot cake, I’d just like to remind you it does contain cinnamon.
- 280g non-dairy milk
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 300g plain gluten-free flour
- 1 tsp. Xanthan gum
- ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1.5 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. mixed spice
- 75g walnuts, roughly chopped plus extra for topping
- 100g sunflower oil
- 200g light muscovado sugar
- 1.5tsp. vanilla extract
- 150g carrots, peeled and grated
- vegan cream cheese frosting
- 1-2 Tbsp. walnuts, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 160C and line a loaf tin with parchment paper.
In a large jug (or bowl) add the apple cider vinegar to the non-dairy milk. Stir well and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and mixed spice. Toss in the chopped walnuts and mix briefly with the flour.
Add the oil, sugar and vanilla to the milk and mix well until any sugar lumps have dissolved.
Add the carrots to the flour, mix briefly and then pour in the wet mix. Use a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon to mix the batter until all the flour is fully incorporated.
Transfer the batter to the loaf tin and bake for 45mins to 1hr (depending on your oven). The cake is ready when a skewer sent through the middle comes out clean.
Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before decorating or slicing.
Serve the cake as it is or smother it in cream cheese frosting and top with crushed walnuts.
Xanthan Gum – is a binder that helps gluten-free baked goods hold their shape and prevents them from excessively crumbling (especially useful in vegan baking in the absence of eggs). You can find xanthan gum in most supermarkets in the baking aisle. You can, of course, leave the xanthan gum out but I haven’t tested the recipe without xanthan so I can’t guarantee it’ll work.
Flour – I used the plain flour from Dove’s farm.
Wondering why we’re baking at 160C?
Gluten-free bakes tend to need a little long in the oven. A lower temperature means your bakes won’t burn and, the rise of the cake is more gradual. All these factors aid in the development of structure in the absence of gluten.
Wondering why the cake needs to be cold before you try and slice it?
Gluten-free cakes are a little more fragile than their gluten-containing counterparts. Allowing them to cool completely, and I mean stone cold, allows the crumb structure to fully set. If you skip this step, you may find the cake crumbles or is very dense when cut.
Find more gluten-free vegan baking tips here.