I have a confession: I used to dislike carrot cake.
No, that’s not true. I hated it.
And it wasn’t because of the cake itself. It was the walnuts…
Why, oh why would someone ruin a perfectly good cake by putting nasty walnuts in it?!
…so I didn’t eat carrot cake as a kid. I wouldn’t touch the stuff. Luckily for me it wasn’t very popular where I grew up.
But that all changed when I graduated from college.
I was at a dinner party, and another guest brought a homemade carrot cake for dessert. I politely declined having any, telling him I really didn’t care for carrot cake.
“Are you sure?” He cut a piece and held it up on a plate. “It’s really good.”
“I’m sure it is,” I said. (And it did look good.) “But I really don’t like walnuts.” A mild understatement – I hate walnuts – but I was being polite.
“Oh, well, you’re in luck. Neither do I. So I don’t put them in.”
Carrot cake without walnuts? Why had no one ever thought of that before? I had a piece, loved it, begged for the recipe, and have been making it ever since.
Or at least I did until going grain-free. The original carrot cake recipe called for regular wheat flour, of course. When I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I made it with a rice flour blend, and it was still good. But when I gave up all grains, it was beyond modifying.
I actually thought after going grain-free I wouldn’t have any desserts again. But after a while, I began to miss the occasional bread-y or cake-y thing. Not as a habit or anything, but a treat once in a while.
So lately I’ve been playing around with baking again. And after the success of my gluten-free carrot cookies, I decided to try an actual carrot cake.
There are a lot of grain-free carrot cake recipes out there, but they seem to require a lot of sugar. And that’s another thing I’ve mostly given up. So I wanted to come up with a low sugar version.
My first try was a a sugar-free carrot cake. It was okay, kind of like carrot bread instead of cake. But it just wasn’t right. It wasn’t cake.
So I did some more research, some more tweaking, and ended up with a freezer full of carrot cake. I also ended up with a grain-free carrot cake. And I knew it was good when I had some the morning after baking it. Popping a bite into my mouth, I was immediately flooded with memories of my younger self noshing on cake for breakfast.
This is the one!
Now, this cake isn’t Betty Crocker sweet. It’s got more of an adult, sophisticated, hearty flavor with just a touch of sweet. Enough to let you know you’re eating cake, but not enough to induce a diabetic coma. I like it. I think you’ll like it, too.
Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Carrot Cake
3 medium carrots, grated or chopped finely
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 medium banana, mashed
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 Tbsp honey
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8 in x 8 in baking dish.
Combine carrots, coconut flour, cinnamon and ginger in a medium bowl, and set aside.
Combine banana, eggs, coconut oil and honey in a large bowl, and mix well.
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
If you’re going to add any raisins or (nasty) walnuts to your batter, now is the time to do it.
Pour (or dump) the batter into the baking dish, and smooth out the top with a spatula.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is dry and the edges are nicely brown.
This tastes best room temperature or slightly warm. Frost it if you like, enjoy plain, or top with gluten-free coconut ice cream.