she cooks…he cleans

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Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Original recipe – Gluten and Grain-Free, no refined sugars

Be it a birthday celebration, or the end to a tough week, (or BOTH), we all need a treat now and then.  This carrot cake did it for us – and without adding any grains!

Truth be told, I was skeptical about how a cake would turn out without the usual additions of flour and refined sugar.  Baking can be so touchy – and then you end up with a brick of a cake, or something so dry that you need a vat of birthday punch to wash it down.  Well, surprise, this cake is fabulous!  Take that gluten….we don’t need you no more!  I absolutely could not tell that this cake was grain free – the texture was moist, but not dense.  It had a pleasantly sweet taste and cinnamon-y flavor, and was chocked full of carrots, raisins, and walnuts.  It was indistinguishable from carrot cakes I’ve made in the past with wheat flour.  Carrot cake is pretty versatile, so feel free to experiment a little with other ingredients.  I like to switch up the raisins and walnuts with chopped dates and macadamia nuts – add a little ginger and pineapple and you’ll think you’re vacationing in the tropics!

Waiting for Frosting!


  • 1/2 cup walnut oil or coconut oil (or oil of choice)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (I used Big Tree Farms SweetTree Organic Coconut Palm Sugar)
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups blanched almond flour (I used JK Gourmet Almond Flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut (I used Let’s Do Organic Coconut)
  • 3 cups grated carrots (about 2 large carrots)
  • 3/4 cup raisins or chopped dates
  • 3/4 walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • Additional chopped nuts to top cake (optional)

Preheat oven to 325F.  Line two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with parchment paper and butter bottom and sides (or use non-stick spray).

Using electric mixer,  beat oil, palm sugar, and honey until well mixed.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well between eggs.

In a separate bowl, mix together almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and shredded coconut.  With mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.  When it has all been added, beat until well blended.  Stir in carrots, raisins and toasted walnuts.

Divide batter between cake pans.  Bake at 325 for 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.  Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes.  Run a small knife around the edge of the pans to loosen the cakes, then invert carefully on a cooling rack; cool completely.

This frosting recipe is adapted from Whole Foods Recipes.  It is very rich, but not very sweet.  It was perfect for this Carrot Cake!

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter (I like Kerry-Gold, unsalted)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Cream together cream cheese and butter in an electric mixer.  Gradually add maple syrup and beat until well-combined and fluffy.

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on cake platter.  Spread approximately 1 cup of frosting over the layer.  Top with the second cake layer, flat side down.  Spread remaining frosting over the top and sides of cake.  Top with chopped nuts (optional). Refrigerate, if possible.  (Not going to fit in my refrigerator!)  Serve at room temperature.


Today, most of all, I wish you a happy birthday…couldn’t have done without you. Literally!

36 comments on “Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Dave
    August 12, 2011

    Wow! That looks so good! Thanks for the recipe. The GF bakery by us has closed, and I used to love their almond flour cakes. I’ll have to give this one a try.

  2. Simply gorgeous!

  3. Evan Thomas
    August 13, 2011

    This is exactly the kind of recipe I needed for a carrot cake. Bookmarked. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Tres Delicious
    August 13, 2011

    Amazingly and elegantly prepared. I love this.

  5. Deb
    August 15, 2011

    Beautiful picture on!

  6. ziabaki
    August 19, 2011

    Lovely recipe! great pictures too!

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  9. mathilde
    November 22, 2011

    This recipe sounds great, I can’t wait to try it !
    Thank you for sharing

  10. Donna
    February 6, 2012

    This looks fabulous and the troops are begging me for carrot cake..In my attempts to adapt paleo cuisine to providing “family favourites”…you have saved my skin on several occasions!..I have joined your exceptional site and have one question…no two….with regards to this recipe I’m going to attempt within the next 48 hours!:

    1) Does the addition of more nuts.(I was thinking of using pecans) addition to the almond flour/meal..overpower the cake…make it more dense or too “fruit-cakey”? your opinion?…Your cake looks so light in texture and colour which is what I’m going for!!!

    2) Would adding pineapple make it moister…too dense/heavy…too tropical or take away from the cakes’ identity as “Carrot Cake”….

    Sorry for the verbose post….but I want to do justice/attempt to mimic your amazing-looking cake…the frosting looks like perfection as well…the quantity looks just right…meaning creamy and plentiful!!

    Have a lovely week….

    Fan in France….Donna

    • She cooks...He cleans
      February 6, 2012

      Donna, thanks again for the kind comments!

      I am one that likes to throw a bit of everything in carrot cake, so I think more nuts would be great and would not hurt the texture. I like the rougher texture of carrot cake with nuts, carrots, and fruit in there. There is 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts in this recipe already, but I would think another 1/2 cup or so of chopped pecans would be fine.

      I also like pineapple in carrot cake and don’t think it detracts from the “carrot-ness”. I’m not sure how it would work with this cake, because one thing I’ve noticed about almond flour is it doesn’t hold up well to too much moisture. It tends to disintegrate. One can of well-drained pineapple might work, but I can’t guarantee it! I would add it at the end with the carrots.

      Good luck, and hope your baking comes out well! ~Nancy

      • Donna
        February 6, 2012


        Thank you so very much for the ultra-rapid response…I am going to tackle this recipe the day after tomorrow, and this time I think I’ll omit the pineapple..just going with the nuts/fruit…I do not want to “mess” with a winner! Thank you again and have a superb week…

  11. Donna
    February 6, 2012

    Excuse me!!! I almost forgot to ask how much drained? pineapple you would add..and at what point you would add it….Would I need to change up the other ingredients?…I would be fearful of “goopiness” …your cake looks so light and almost fluffy, if one can talk about “fluffy” and carrot cake in the same sentence!! Thank you again!

  12. Kara
    February 22, 2012

    This cake looks amazing! I’m wondering if I could omit the raisins and replace them with drained pineapple… would that work? Or would it make it too wet?
    Can’t wait to make this for my birthday this weekend!! 🙂

    • She cooks...He cleans
      February 22, 2012

      Happy early birthday, Kara! I’m not sure if it would be “too wet” or not. If you try it, make sure it is drained well. Another idea would be to chop up dried pineapple – I bet that would be good!

  13. sfnaturalfoodie
    October 16, 2012

    This recipe looks so good! I am looking for a gluten-free, refine sugar free cake to make for my friend’s birthday this coming weekend! I’m going to try this. Wish me luck 🙂

    • She cooks...He cleans
      October 16, 2012

      Good luck! I hope it works out, and you and your friend enjoy it!

      • Claire
        October 22, 2012

        I made this cake following everything exactly as your recipe this week. and he cakes turned out PERFECTLY! I loved both the flavor and texture; it was tender, not crumbly and not overly sweet. Best of all it had tons of healthier ingredients so you don’t have to feel guilty serving it to loved ones! Thanks again for sharing this great recipe! I’m going to post a photo of the cake on your FB wall 🙂 Thanks again and keep up the great work!!

      • She cooks...He cleans
        October 22, 2012

        LOVE the photo – thank you, Claire! So glad you enjoyed the cake!

  14. Jo
    April 21, 2013

    Making this for my b-day this coming week. Can’t wait.

  15. Joanna
    April 26, 2013

    Thank you. Cake is baked, making frosting as we speak. Love this cake, haven’t tried it yet but it looks and smells great. I used coconut oil in place of walnut oil and cranberries in place of raisins. *All my ingredients were organic. For frosting I’m using coconut nectar, don’t have any maple.

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  17. gls daughter
    March 22, 2014

    this is the most delicious grain-free baked good i`ve had!! yum! thank you so much for the recipe. well done, you :).

    • She cooks...He cleans
      March 24, 2014

      Ohhhh, thank you! That is wonderful to hear. It is one of my favorite cakes!

  18. Debbie
    April 11, 2014

    Just made this and it is hands down the best carrot cake I’ve ever had. I didn’t have walnut oil so I used a combination of coconut oil and olive oil. My husband isn’t gluten free but he agrees that the almond flour gives this cake a superior texture. Thank you!

  19. She cooks...He cleans
    April 11, 2014

    Thank you, Debbie! So glad you enjoyed it!

  20. Jen M
    September 28, 2014

    I doubled this recipe for my son’s birthday party and it was a HUGE hit! The kids and grownups all loved it. Nobody could believe it was paleo! I added walnuts to my batter because I love nutty carrot cake. It was moist and very flavorful! Thank you for a great recipe. So easy as well! I’ll definitely make this again!

  21. She cooks...He cleans
    September 28, 2014

    Yay, so nice to hear it was a hit Jen! Happy birthday to your son!

  22. angel
    October 31, 2014

    I didn’t have enough almond flour. I used a combination of coconut flour and almond. I weigh my cup out instead of using a measuring cup. The batter is thick like cookie dough. is this consistency right or am I doing something wrong?

    • She cooks...He cleans
      November 7, 2014

      Hi Angel! Coconut flour isn’t a straight-up substitute for almond flour, since it adsorbs liquids like crazy. The coconut flour would definitely make the batter very, very thick. To adjust for using it, you would probably need to add another egg and more fluid depending on the volume of coconut flour used.

      Here’s a handy guide to using coconut flour:

  23. Karen
    January 5, 2015

    Carrot cake recipe question: (I need an answer by Jan 9th, please! I want to serve this at a party on the 10th.) Can I substitute melted coconut oil for the walnut oil?

    • She cooks...He cleans
      January 5, 2015

      Hi Karen! I see no problem with substituting coconut oil for the walnut oil, and I think it would be quite tasty. Hope it turns out well for you!

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  25. Chrissie
    June 4, 2016

    Just wondering if anyone has made this cake without the Sugar and honey??? I need a sugar free cake (no honey, Rapadura/coconut palm sugar etc or dates used as sweetener) and wondering how this recipe would go using raw powdered stevia leaves instead???

  26. Ann
    October 1, 2016

    Love love love this recipe! I’ve made it several times! I also love the icing recipe! Absolutely no powered sugar!! I’m serving it for a lucheon we are having tomorrow.
    Thank you for sharing such yummy recipes!!

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