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!
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.
Carrot cake is an excellent one to make free-from as the “standard” recipes are usually quite liquid, use the more moist 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.
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.
Now go get your bake on – your dairy and gluten free loved ones deserve this carrot traybake!
A carrot cake so delicious, you won't believe there's no dairy and no gluten! I promise 😀
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
Mix the carrot, lime juice, orange extract, oil, sugar, treacle and egg yolks together in a large bowl.
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!
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.
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)
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.
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.
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!
And here it is a an 8 inch layer cake:
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