Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake (GFCF)
I love carrot cake. Even better, it is so adaptable as a gluten-free, casein-free recipe. I have found that, in general, heavier baked goods turn out more successful as GFCF, as opposed to the light & fluffy bread items, like angel cake and hamburger buns.
Anyways, I have countless cookbooks, and, to my taste, each recipe was lacking just a little something, or had too much of something else. So, I adapted a recipe, adding and subtracting what appeals to me, also ensuring that it is free of gluten and dairy. I mostly added ingredients. This cake has all of the “extra” ingredients, besides carrots, hence the title.
The results taste fabulous, and no one will guess that it’s for “special” diets. Well, unless, like us, you can’t have dairy, and have to use a plain white frosting, instead of cream cheese. Cream cheese frosting is a classic with carrot cake (By the way, at the time of this writing, both Duncan Hines and Pillsbury vanilla frostings are GFCF. Some of those brands’ frostings are NOT GFCF, so read labels carefully, of course. I’m more partial to Duncan Hines, because it is thicker. Also, NONE of Betty Crocker prepared frostings are GFCF; they all contain, at a minimum, wheat starch.)
And… like most of my recipes, this makes a big batch. It makes either a very large layer cake, or a large sheet cake plus a dozen muffins. (See recipe for details.)
Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake (GFCF)
- 2 medium oranges
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 4 cups Best Gluten-Free Flour Mix Ever (alternately, use one cup EACH sorghum flour, brown rice flour, sweet rice flour, and corn starch, PLUS 3 tsp. xanthan gum)
- 1 1/2 cups packed, dark brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tsp baking soda
- 4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground mace (alternately, 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg)
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 1/2 cups cooking oil (I use canola)
- 7 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 5 cups peeled and finely shredded carrots (about 1 lb)
- 8 oz (2 cups) walnuts, chopped
- 1 – 20 oz can crushed pineapple (packed in juice, not syrup)
- 1/2 cup flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
- Prepare your pans: For a party-sized layer cake, with shortening, grease two 11″ x 17″ jelly roll pans. For a more moderate crowd, with shortening, grease a 9″ x 13.5″ rectangular glass baking pan, PLUS line 12 muffin tins with paper baking cups.
- Wash the two oranges, and finely grate the zest, which will result in about 2 Tbsp zest. Set the zest aside. Squeeze the juice from the oranges, which will result in 1/2 – 3/4 cup juice. Pour the juice into a microwave-proof bowl, and add the raisins. Loosely cover. Heat the juice and raisins in the microwave on high until boiling, about 2 minutes. Let stand about five minutes. Heat again for about 30 seconds until boiling again, then let stand. Repeat again, until the mixture has been brought to a boil a total of three times. (Alternately, bring boil in a small saucepan, then simmer on low heat for five minutes.) Then, set aside to soak and cool.
- If you haven’t already done so, finely grate the carrots.
- Set a seive over a bowl, and pour in the can of crushed pineapple to drain. (You will not use the drained juice; only the pineapple.)
- Into a very large mixing bowl (6 quart or larger), measure the flour mix, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, mace, and cloves. With a whisk, completely combine all ingredients. Use your hands in a rubbing fashion to break up chunks of brown sugar, if needed.
- In a large mixing bowl (4 quart size), combine oil, eggs, and vanilla, whisking to mix. Add the oil mixture to the flour mixture, and stir well with a wooden spoon to combine. (This is the point where I usually turn my oven on, preheating it to 350* F.) If you do not have a 6 quart+ mixing bowl, divide the batter evenly into two smaller mixing bowls.
- In the “wet” bowl, combine the shredded carrots, raisin and juice mixture, orange zest, drained pineapple, walnuts, and shredded coconut. After this is well mixed, add the carrot mixture to the batter, stirring gently but thoroughly to mix. If you are using two bowls, divide the carrot mixture evenly between them, and mix each batch of batter separately.
- If you are making a large layer cake, pour the batter into the two jelly roll pans, dividing evenly. Bake at 350* F for 25-30 minutes, switching pans between upper and lower racks about halfway through. Cake will test done in the middle with a toothpick that comes out clean. Cool in pans for about 10 minutes before inverting onto large cooling racks, if you have them. (Mine aren’t big enough to accomodate a cake that size, so I pretty much just cool them in the pans — however, you have to make sure that the cake is dry before frosting. So, I usually invert the bottom layer onto my serving platter, let it cool there, frost the middle, then invert the top layer onto the bottom, waiting at least 30 minutes or so before frosting the top layer and sides, so that the cake is sufficiently dry. You don’t want the layers completely dried out, but if they are moist, you will have a difficult time spreading the frosting. I hope that makes sense.)
- If you are making a smaller cake plus muffins: Place a dozen muffin/cupcake paper baking cups into muffin tins. Fill baking cups nearly full, about 1/3 cup each. Pour the remainder into the rectangular Pyrex baking pan. (Pan will be just over half-full.) Put the cake on the lower rack of the oven, and the muffins on the upper rack. Bake at 350* F for 20 minutes, then switch the pans. Bake for another 10 minutes, and remove the muffins, which will be done. Bake the cake for an additional 25 minutes, or until it tests done in the middle of the cake with a toothpick that comes out clean. Cool muffins for 10 minutes, then remove from tin. Frost, if desired, when cool. Cool cake in the pan, and frost the top when the cake is completely cool.