I’ve been wanting to convert my favorite carrot cake recipe to a version that is Paleo friendly and made with coconut flour. However coconut flour is a royal pain in the neck to work with. It’s extremely absorbent and if you add even a tad too much it will suck up every last bit of moisture.
That being said, carrot cake is a pretty forgiving cake. It is generally considered a more dense cake, and that’s good because coconut flour is a heavier flour (because it is so fibrous). What carrot cake must be (IMHO) is moist.
I started by looking at cake recipes in one of my favorite Paleo dessert cookbooks- Indulge: 70 Grain Free Desserts . The author of this e-cookbook, Carol, has become a master at working with Paleo ingredients such as coconut flour and almond flour. She taught me to whip my egg whites before adding them to any cake recipe. This helps with loft/keeping the cake light and airy.
However, I still had no idea how to figure out how much coconut flour I could use to convert my favorite carrot cake recipe.
Original Carrot Cake Recipe
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups raw shredded carrots
Grease and flour a 9×13″ pan. Preheat oven to 350°. Cream sugar and oil, add eggs (wet).Mix dry ingredients together and add to wet ingredients. Mix in carrots last. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (or with crumb attached).
How to convert recipes to coconut flour
Starlene of GAPS Diet Journey.com came to my rescue with her new e-book Baking with Coconut Flour. In it she educates her reader on exactly what coconut flour is and why it can be a menace to work with. She then goes on to give multiple examples of why and how coconut flour can affect recipes given a different brand, different day, or different measuring technique. She also addresses the ratio of egg to coconut flour that is necessary to achieve maximum results without the item ending up too “eggy.”
Using her techniques I came up with this fantastic recipe that will delight your friends and family!
Please note that the above recipe is for a cake sized 9″x13″ and the one below is for an 8″x8″ size. I often double the recipe below, using two 8′ round cake pans, to make a double layer cake (as seen in the picture).
Paleo Carrot Cake Recipe
3/4 cup coconut sugar (purchase quality, fair trade coconut sugar here)
1/2 cup coconut oil (purchase quality coconut oil here)
1/4 cup coconut flour* (brand of coconut flour I used) *Read how I measured the coconut flour below
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs, separated, and then brought to room temperature
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 cup raw shredded carrots (I do not recommend store bought shredded carrots as they are usually pretty dried out)
Line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper.Let the parchment paper come up over the edge on two sides (to aid in removing cake from pan). Spray with coconut oil (optional).
Separate egg yolks from whites and let stand to bring to room temperature while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Using a food processor or box grater, shred the carrots and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Cream coconut sugar and coconut oil together until the ingredients combine and start spreading out around the edge of the mixing bowl. Although the coconut sugar is brown you will notice that the mixture will become slightly lighter in color.
Add egg yolks and continue whipping until well combined.
Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.
In a separate bowl whip egg whites until peaks form. Add cream of tartar and whip until stiff peaks form.
Add dry ingredients to the creamed sugar mixture. Add grated carrots and mix.
Gently fold the whipped egg whites into batter, a little at a time until combined.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with crumb attached.
Notes: I must say that I usually enjoy carrot cake better the day after it is made as it tends to develop in flavor and depth. However, I enjoyed this carrot cake recipe more on the day it was made. It had an almost caramel flavor (likely because of the coconut sugar), and was moist and delicious. The second day it had firmed up a bit (I had refrigerated it overnight), and had lost a bit of the caramel flavor. However, both days it was excellent!
*When measuring the coconut flour, I pressed the coconut flour into the measuring cup with the back of a spoon, and then leveled it off with a knife. It weighed in at 1.2 ounces on my kitchen scale.
Sooo moist and delicious!
Carrot cake and cream cheese frosting are a natural pair. However, coming up with a frosting that doesn’t use powdered sugar or dairy can be a bit of a challenge. Here are a few options that I’ve found, followed by a more conventional recipe for cream cheese frosting.
Coconut Cream Frosting– I do not recommend agave, so feel free to substitute honey or maple syrup.
Coconut Whipped Cream- Step by step tutorial
Whipped raw cream
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese (learn how to make your own here)
1/4 cup butter (brand I recommend)
6-8 Tbs organic powdered sugar (brand I use)
1/2 tsp vanilla
Bring the cream cheese and butter to room temperature. Whip cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add butter and continue to whip. Add vanilla. Add powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time until desired thickness and sweetness is achieved.