Carrot Cake with Greek Yogurt and Cream Cheese Frosting
Every year as a child my mother would give me the option to choose what kind of cake I wanted for my birthday. This was especially huge for me seeing how most of my other family members always wanted the same thing: Carvel Ice Cream Cake.
Call me crazy, but I’ve never been a fan of ice cream and cake together. Warm brownies and vanilla ice cream I can eat aallllll daaaaay long. Cookies and cake,on the other hand, are only meant to be enjoyed with icing, in my humble opinion.
So anyway, when it finally came around to my birthday, I was very particular about what flavor I chose. It had to be something reeallly good since I knew the rest of the year was going to be that same old ice cream cake. There were a few years that I asked for something totally random that I spotted at the grocery store but the majority of the time I requested my all-time favorite: carrot cake with fluffy cream cheese frosting.
I still love it today just as much as I did when I was a kid but I’ve tried to find ways to tailor it more to my liking, sneaking in a little healthy flour here and taking out some of the excess sugar there.
In the past I’ve always left at least 1/2 all purpose flour in the recipe but with some experimentation, I’ve discovered naturally gluten-free flours that actually yield a similar texture to all-purpose while still offering all of the nutritional benefits of whole grains.
One of my favorite flour combinations, which I’ve used for several recipes on the blog (such as banana bread, blueberry muffins, cornbread, etc.), is brown rice flour and almond meal.
The texture of brown rice flour is somewhat light and airy, similar to all-purpose, and the almond meal adds a little moisture, giving the cakes a nice delicate crumb.
I also used a combination of organic brown sugar and maple syrup for a rich molasses flavor that works perfectly with the cinnamon and other spices.
As for add-ins, I reached out to you guys on Facebook to see what you like and I was expecting most of you to say just carrots but instead I got the exact opposite. The majority said nuts and raisins and a few even said pineapple!
Ultimately I decided on walnuts but feel free to add in raisins or substitute pecans, if you wish. If you really want to add pineapple you can replace some of the carrots for however much you like.
Now if it was one thing that everyone agreed on it was a thick cream cheese frosting so I made sure to include that part!
I lightened up slightly by using half light cream cheese and adding Greek yogurt for a softer, creamier texture.
The end-result is pretty spectacular, if I don’t say so myself. It’s moist and rich with a light spice and the frosting literally melts in your mouth.
Even if you’re not allergic to gluten, it’s still a great option for those of you that like to sneak nutritious ingredients into your dessert. It tastes better that way, right?! :)
2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 and 1/2 cups shredded carrots (approx. 7 large carrots)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup sunflower oil*
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk**
1 cup chopped walnuts
Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces regular cream cheese
8 ounces light cream cheese
6 ounces non-fat vanilla or plain Greek yogurt
1 and 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (can omit if using vanilla yogurt)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and then grease two 8-inch round cake pans and set aside. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (brown rice flour to nutmeg) and sift together.
- In a separate large bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients (carrots to milk) and stir well. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and use a spatula to gently fold together a few times. Pour in the walnuts and continue to fold with the spatula until everything is mixed together.
- Divide the batter equally into the two separate cake pans and bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until you can prick the center with a fork and have it come out clean. Allow the cake to cool for several hours or overnight at room temperature, covered tightly.
- Meanwhile make the frosting by placing the cream cheese and Greek yogurt in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and then beat on high with a mixer for about 10 seconds, until smooth. Add the rest of the sugar along with the vanilla extract and continue to beat until the frosting is fluffy and smooth. At this point you can refrigerate the frosting overnight and ice the cake the next day, if desired.
- Once the cake is properly cooled, transfer it to a surface for icing. Using a spatula, spread a thick layer on top of the first cake, then place the second cake on top and spread on another thick layer, smoothing the excess over the edges. After the cake is completely covered in icing, you have the option to sprinkle the edges with chopped nuts for decoration or you can leave it as is. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
*can substitute with other melted oil or butter **can substitute with milk of choice
If you prefer to add raisins, simply substitute some of the walnuts for equal amounts.
If you prefer to add pineapple, substitute some of the carrots for equal amounts.