Mom’s Classic Carrot Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Icing

This classic two-layer carrot cake recipe is fresh from the new The Flour Craft Bakery & Café Cookbook by our friend and Northern California bakery owner Heather Hardcastle. Take our word for it. It’s the only gluten-free carrot cake recipe you’ll ever need. For this instant classic, carrots, nuts, and warm spices are baked into a moist but sturdy cake and paired with creamy, dreamy vanilla-bean cream-cheese icing. It’s truly perfect for any occasion. Frost just the top and between the layers for the “naked” look, or also skim or lightly frost the sides for a more traditional look. Any way you frost it, this cake makes a stunning presentation. If you want just enough frosting to frost for “naked” style, halve the recipe below. If you want to frost the sides of the cake as well, or if you like a lot of frosting, make the full batch.

The Flour Craft Bakery & Café Cookbook is loaded with other delicious layer cake, tea cake, cookie, bread, and soup recipes and more, so if you want to add a new cookbook to your collection, you can find it here.

Reprinted with permission from Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2021

Mom’s Classic Carrot Cake

One of the beautiful things about this recipe is that it only requires two types of flour which will have you enjoying a slice of cake heaven with much less effort!

Servings 10

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups (8.75 ounces) vegetable oil
  • 2 cups (14 ounces) white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) white rice flour
  • 3/4 cup (4.125 ounces) brown rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups (7 ounces) shredded carrots
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) chopped raw walnuts
  • 2 cups vanilla bean cream cheese icing below

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment circles.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes, occasionally scraping down the bowl.

  3. Add white rice flour, brown rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt to the wet ingredients. Mix on medium speed until smooth, 2–3 minutes. Add carrots and walnuts and mix until all the ingredients are uniformly combined, 1–2 minutes more. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.

  4. Bake for 40–45 minutes, rotating the pans between the upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking, until the cake is golden brown and the top feels set when pushed very gently with your finger, or a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans completely and then unmold onto a wire rack before before trimming and icing.

  5. Using a long serrated knife, carefully trim off the tops of both cakes so the layers are flat on both sides. Place one trimmed cake on a platter facing up, so you’re icing the cut side of the cake. Spread on a thick layer of vanilla bean cream cheese icing. Invert the other layer on top, so the bottom of the second cake is facing up. Spread another layer of icing on the top of the cake. You can either frost the sides or leave them naked, depending on how much icing you personally enjoy and how you want the finished cake to look.

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Icing

Don't skip the step of sifting the powdered sugar. It is an important step in creating a super creamy and lump-less icing.

Servings 5 cups

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces cream cheese softened (2 packages)
  • 8 ounces butter softened (2 sticks)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until fully mixed and no lumps remain, 2–3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix on low speed to start, increasing speed as the sugar is incorporated, for about 4 minutes total. Scrape the bowl after each addition.

  2. After all the powdered sugar has been added and the icing is completely smooth and lump-free, add the vanilla paste and salt. Mix briefly to combine.

  3. Set the icing aside at room temperature until you’re ready to use it. You can make the icing well ahead and store it in the refrigerator but it does set up as it chills. You’ll need to soften it in the microwave and re-whip it before applying it to your cake. Otherwise, the icing will be hard and difficult to spread on a fresh cake without tearing it.

Photography Erin Scott

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