• Deliciously moist and flavourful carrot cake so good, you won't miss the dairy or the gluten at all!

Dairy & Gluten Free Carrot Traybake

Despite being an omnivore with no food allergies of my own, I spend a lot of time pondering how to make cakes with non-standard wheat flour and dairy produce for one simple reason – food intolerances and food-related illness are only getting more common and when I bake something to take to work or for my family, I want everyone to be able to join in.

I mean, cake is never going to be a food to be eating everyday but if there’s something to celebrate (even if that thing is it’s Friday and we’ve made it through the working week together!) then why would you want anyone excluded from the party, especially if eating a gluten-loaded, butter-laden cake is going to make them ill?

The reality is, it’s becoming more and more common to have friends, family and colleagues with food allergies or Coeliac disease and to my mind, if we can make utterly delicious treats that they can enjoy too, then why shouldn’t we all be learning a little free from baking? More love, less hate. It’s my political position represented in the form of this incredible Dairy & Gluten Free Carrot Traybake!
Deliciously moist and flavourful carrot cake so good, you won't miss the dairy or the gluten at all!

Putting politics aside, let’s talk cake. It’s so hard to pick just one favourite cake but carrot cake must be up there for me. I’ve made a mini version, carrot cake muffins and I’ve waxed lyrical for years over Dan Lepard’s orange, pistachio and carrot cake. Thinking of my Coeliac dad and a lactose intolerant friend especially, I’ve come up with a dairy and gluten free traybake style carrot cake that I swear, those without a single intolerance will adore too.

The gold standard for me is if non-allergic people can’t notice the free-from status and proclaim it delicious, I’ve won recipe development wise! I’ve even fed this to my personal trainer and his colleagues who wandered about the gym with frosting on their chops groaning with pleasure lol.

Deliciously moist and flavourful carrot cake so good, you won't miss the dairy or the gluten at all!

Carrot cake is an excellent one to make free-from as the “standard” recipes are usually quite liquid, use the moister brown sugars and oil plus all the carrots bump up the liquid content nicely. No dry and crumbly gluten-free cake fears here! To guarantee the moisture you want from a carrot cake, I start by grinding blanched cashews which have a plain, buttery flavour perfect as a base here.

Then I use a mixture of naturally gluten-free flours to get the best texture. I use Doves Farm buckwheat flour (I use the wholemeal version as it’s easier to get), coconut flour (which is starting to be easier to find and cheaper to buy) plus rolled oats.

Deliciously moist and flavourful carrot cake so good, you won't miss the dairy or the gluten at all!

As for that frosting – what carrot cake wouldn’t be complete without a thick layer of luscious cream cheese frosting? Luckily my lactose-intolerant friends can finally help themselves to a big piece of this cake with a dairy free cream cheese frosting! I combine block Stork margarine (the spreadable version is not dairy free) and a little Trex vegetable shortening – the reason being Stork is much more stable but does have a strong taste whereas the Trex softens the texture and is completely bland so dilutes the Stork flavour.

Then here comes the secret ingredient, thanks to my pastry chef friend Kath who tipped me off to it last year – LorAnn Oils Cheesecake Flavoured Super Strength Oil.  It is super potent so you only need a few drops (add to taste) but honestly, if you can’t have cream cheese, this is what you need to get your frosting fix! As I use lime juice and coconut flour in the cake, I add these flavours to the frosting too. Coconut & Lime Natural Flavoured Icing Sugar 500g is delicious and free from too.

Simply the best Carrot Traybake - and it's both dairy & gluten free! Click To Tweet

I like making this carrot cake in a traybake tin which is 8×12 inches in size but it also works as traditional 8 inch round layer cake. Simply divide between two deep 8 inch round tins and bake for approximately 5 minutes less. Do line the tins with baking parchment if using loose bottomed tins. And psst, here’s my recipe for homemade pumpkin pie spice for my UK readers who struggle to find it at an affordable price here.

How to make your own pumpkin pie spice - easy peasy and utterly delicious in lots of home baked goodies

Now go get your bake on – your dairy and gluten free loved ones deserve this carrot traybake!

5 from 4 votes
Deliciously moist and flavourful carrot cake so good, you won't miss the dairy or the gluten at all!
Dairy & Gluten Free Carrot Traybake

A carrot cake so delicious, you won't believe there's no dairy and no gluten! I promise :D 

Servings: 16 servings
: 425 kcal
Author: Just Jo
For the cake:
  • 100 g cashews blanched not salted
  • 100 g buckwheat flour
  • 50 g rolled oats
  • 50 g coconut flour can be substituted for cornflour
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice can be substituted for mixed spice or cinnamon
  • 1 tsp xantham gum level - be mean with the measure
  • 2 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb level measure, be mean!
  • 300 g carrots, grated finely
  • 80 ml lime juice
  • 2 tsp orange extract or substitute for zest of one large orange
  • 175 ml vegetable oil
  • 225 g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp treacle
  • 4 large eggs, separated
For the frosting:
  • 100 g block margarine, straight from the fridge I use Stork which is dairy free
  • 250 g icing sugar
  • 80 g vegetable shortening, straight from the fridge I use Trex
  • Few drops Lorann Oil Cheesecake oil
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1 tbsp Malibu (optional)
  • 30 g whole pecans
  1. Preheat the oven to 170˚C and line an 8x12 inch traybake tin with baking parchment. You can use two 8 inch round, deep cake tins if you prefer a layer cake style. 

  2. Blitz the cashews for a minute in the food processor then add in the buckwheat, oats, coconut flour, spice, xantham gum and raising agents then blitz again until you have a well incorporated, finely ground mix. 

  3. Mix the carrot, lime juice, orange extract, oil, sugar, treacle and egg yolks together in a large bowl.  

  4. Whisk the egg whites until you have stiff peaks - I do this by hand but you can use a mixer or electric beaters of course!  

  5. Tip the contents of the food processor into the carrot mixture then fold in the whisked egg whites. Scrape into your prepared tin and level it with your spatula. It is a reasonably thick mix.

  6. Bake for 30 minutes until the cake is well browned, well risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre. Cool in the tin. (If baking in two 8 inch tins, bake for 22-25 minutes only) 

  7. For the frosting, beat the cold Stork and icing sugar together for several minutes until well mixed and starting to get fluffy. Add in the lime zest and Malibu (if using) and beat again to mix. Now, add in the Trex and beat only until combined. Do not over beat as it will go sloppy.

  8. Spread the icing over the cake and crumble the pecans over the top with your fingers - they are soft enough that they break up easily without getting a chopping board out! If making a layer cake, use half to sandwich the cakes and the rest to top. 

Recipe Notes

1. When baking for those with food allergies, always read the labels and never assume something is "free from" just because it seems daft for it to contain the allergen - there can be cross contamination from other things made in food factories. And baking powder is often bulked out with wheat flour so definitely check that if baking for a Coeliac.
2. I use this Coconut & Lime Natural Flavoured Icing Sugar 500g from Sugar & Crumbs to make the frosting super fast - I omit the lime zest and Malibu if I'm using this. They makes lots of flavours and they are gluten free, dairy free, vegan and all natural.

3. Lorann Oils Cheesecake Oil is absolutely amazing - it is dairy free and essential if you want to make cream cheese frosting for lactose-intolerant people! 

Nutrition Facts
Dairy & Gluten Free Carrot Traybake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 425 Calories from Fat 243
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 42%
Saturated Fat 12g 60%
Cholesterol 46mg 15%
Sodium 187mg 8%
Potassium 282mg 8%
Total Carbohydrates 43g 14%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 31g
Protein 4g 8%
Vitamin A 68.5%
Vitamin C 3.2%
Calcium 6.6%
Iron 8.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


And here it is a an 8 inch layer cake:


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  1. Delicious traybake, and so good to be able to make without the wheat and dairy. I always find a tray bake is a useful thing to make if expecting company.

    • Just Jo 04/03/2017 at 15:04 - Reply

      It sure is Helen – I love that my traybake tins have clip on lids to make taking them with me super easy!

  2. Lucy @ Supergoldenbakes 04/03/2017 at 13:48 - Reply

    I agree, it’s so good to make the effort to make free-froms, especially when you know a friend has allergies. This cake looks wonderful.

    • Just Jo 04/03/2017 at 15:04 - Reply

      Thank you Lucy – let *everyone* eat cake! :D

  3. Julia @ HappyFoods Tube 04/03/2017 at 13:50 - Reply

    This carrot traybake looks delicious. I like that you’ve been trying to create foods that anyone can enjoy!

    • Just Jo 04/03/2017 at 15:06 - Reply

      Thank you Julia! I hated seeing colleagues or family members not being included in the mini celebrations when baked goods are shared so I’ve tasked myself with coming up with “alternative” recipes this year on the blog :D

  4. My hubster absolutely adores carrot cake, and this one sounds delicious! You can’t avoid political intolerance, but I love that you’ve addressed these DIETARY intolerances: big kudos for working out a lactose-free cream cheese frosting! Because, as you point out, carrot cake just isn’t carrot cake without that luscious frosting slathered on top!

    • Just Jo 04/03/2017 at 15:08 - Reply

      Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could bake away world politics eh Michelle?!
      Now that would be a recipe we all need! Until then, let’s tuck into a slab of carrot cake with luscious frosting :D I hope you and your hubby enjoy this cake x

  5. Shumaila 04/03/2017 at 16:47 - Reply

    Its very sweet of you to take in consideration other people’s allergies when you bake something even though you have none. This dairy and gluten free carrot cake sounds lovely, and thanks for all the tips with the cashew butter and gluten free flours. Pinning this recipe, hopefully can find all the ingredients easily to make this some day soon.

    • Just Jo 05/03/2017 at 18:59 - Reply

      Well, it’s no fun if people are left out of having a slice of cake! I think of all the foods, cake is meant to be shared :D And thank you for your comment and Pin :D

  6. Edna 05/03/2017 at 12:37 - Reply

    Sounds great,but need regular measurements.Do not know how to convert grams.

    • Just Jo 05/03/2017 at 19:17 - Reply

      Hi Edna – thank you for your comment! I am guessing by regular measurements you mean American cups? If so, here you go – I’ve converted this recipe for you:

      3/4 cup cashews 3/4 cup buckwheat flour 1/2 cup rolled oats 1/2 cup coconut flour 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice 1 tsp bicarb 2 cups grated carrot, not packed 1/3 cup lime juice 2 tsp orange extract 3/4 cup vegetable oil 1 cup and 2 tbsp light muscovado sugar 1 tbsp treacle (molasses will do in America) 4 extra large eggs (American egg sizes are smaller than UK ones)

      For the frosting: 1/2 cup solid vegetable fat/margarine/baking spread 2 cups confectioner’s sugar A scant 1/2 cup shortening (Crisco) Few drops Lorann Oil Cheesecake oil 1 tsp lime zest 1 tbsp Malibu (optional) 2 tbsp whole pecans

      If you are ever stuck again, do check out my Measurement Conversion page – I created it to help those not using UK measures. I haven’t tested my recipes in cups but these are the sources I trust when I am converting US measures back into familiar measures for me too. Here’s the page link for you: https://www.everynookandcranny.net/measurement-conversions/

  7. Julia 10/03/2017 at 15:21 - Reply

    I feel like I always think of needing to make a carrot cake into a layer cake, but it’s so much more work. The sheet tray version sounds so much simpler! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Emily 30/08/2017 at 04:10 - Reply

    Good lord this recipe is making my mouth water!!! I am OBSESSED with carrot cake. It will definitely be served at my wedding one day hehe

    • Just Jo 30/08/2017 at 07:34 - Reply

      Lol aw thanks Emily! I hope you do have it as your wedding cake, I love that idea! X

  9. Suzie 17/11/2017 at 22:21 - Reply

    This recipe looks delicious, however, often people with coaliac disease cannot tolerate oats at all. is there a substitution you could recommend for the oats?

    • Just Jo 17/11/2017 at 22:57 - Reply

      Hi Suzie and thank you! If you can’t tolerate gluten-free oats, I would simply use 50g of buckwheat flour extra x

  10. Sheilad 22/02/2018 at 23:30 - Reply

    Although I do look for gluten and dairy free recipes for my grand-daughter, I also look out for the carbs as I’m diabetic. If I replace the sugars with a substitute, what would be the best one(s) to use in this recipe?

  11. Michelle 07/03/2018 at 08:23 - Reply

    Hi, great to see such a fab receipt that’s ‘free from’. My husband has a gluten intolerance which also extends to egg whites. Do you have a suggestion as to a replacement for egg whites in your recipe? Thanks, Michelle

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