Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Sour Cream Frosting

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This carrot cake came thisclose to not getting posted.  But certainly not because it didn’t taste good.  I’ve been making, and thoroughly enjoying, versions of this cake for years.  I like to bring it on longer ridge hikes and enjoy a piece at the top of the Koolau summit.  Studded with walnuts, coconut and raisins, the carrot cake is always a nice reward for hours of hard work, but not so decadent that you feel like you’re negating all of your efforts calorie-wise.

So what was the problem?  My oven is still broken and I had to use a counter-top toaster oven to bake it.  The temperature fluctuations caused the cake to fall big time.  It wasn’t pretty.

Any other week and the cake would have been deemed unsuitable for company and I certainly wouldn’t have blogged about it.  But I had just read Melissa Clark’s excellent piece, No Apologies Necessary When A Dish Goes Awry, and was feeling like the whole thing could be salvaged.  Time to break free from the Cult of Foodie Perfectionism, as she calls it.

Although I normally eat this particular cake plain, I smeared on a heavy layer of sour cream frosting to even out the top and gussied it up with a couple chopped walnuts and some shavings some of the multi-colored heirloom carrots.  I couldn’t quite catch myself from offering a quick apology for the less than brilliant appearance, but I shouldn’t have bothered: everybody loved it.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Sour Cream Frosting


Carrot Cake:
* 3/4 cup superfine rice flour
* 1/2 cup sorghum flour
* 1/4 cup potato starch
* 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
* 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1 cup sugar
* 3/4 cup coconut oil (can also use vegetable oil)
* 2 eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 cup grated carrots
* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
* 1/2 cup unsweetened, dried, shredded coconut
* 1/3 cup raisins (I used a mix of golden raisins and regular raisins… dried cranberries would also work)

Sour Cream Frosting:
* 2 Tablespoons butter, softened but not melted
* 1/4 cup sour cream
* 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
* pinch salt
* 1-1/2+ cups powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray a 9-inch round layer cake pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl combine the rice flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger and whisk to combine.

In a large bowl beat the sugar, coconut oil, and eggs and mix until smooth. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the dry ingredient and stir to combine. Add the carrots, walnuts, coconut and raisins.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool and then frost with sour cream frosting, if desired.

To make the frosting combine the butter, sour cream, vanilla extract, lemon juice and salt in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Add the powdered sugar and beat, using an electric mixer, until smooth. If you’d like a stiffer frosting, add additional powdered sugar in small increments until you achieve your desired consistency.

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