A decadent and delicious layered carrot cake with pineapple, coconut, and pecans for a tropical twist, with a thick classic cream cheese frosting. Made gluten-free, using almond flour and oats, this cake is lower in sugar than traditional carrot cake and made with only real food wholesome ingredients, but piled high with delicious decadence.
I have been on a baking TEAR lately! Hanging in the kitchen with a good audiobook and a great idea for a new baked good recipe is my current formula for bliss.
Speaking of bliss, allow me to introduce you to the most decadent, delicious, and potentially the best cake I've ever made.
Tropical Carrot Cake – that just happens to be gluten-free but don't hold that against the cake.
Here is what you can look forward to:
- A moist (sorry it's the best describer) light and fluffy crumb, i.e. PERFECT CAKE TEXTURE
- Spices, coconut, pineapple, nuts – the perfect tropical twist!
- Thick layers of tangy cream cheese frosting
Let's just say this is THE carrot cake that you need in your life.
Here's the BEST part.
Simple wholesome ingredients. You know I LOVE that in a baked good!
This recipe even got the stamp of approval from my mom. This is no small feat, as she is the world's best baker and has been known to say about healthier baked goods (gluten-free included) “why bother”.
Let's get baking!
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO MAKE GLUTEN FREE CARROT CAKE:
- Almond Flour – A staple ingredient in my baking pantry. Almond flour is made with ground almonds so maintain the same health perks of almonds; good quality healthy fat, protein, fiber, and vitamin E.
- Rolled Oats or Oat Flour – I make my own oat flour by grinding rolled oats in a blender, but you can absolutely use oat flour instead. Be sure to look for certified gluten-free oats if you are gluten-free.
- Eggs – 4 large eggs (ideally pasture-raised organic eggs)
- Avocado Oil or coconut oil – I personally don't love the flavor of coconut oil in this cake. Avocado oil far outperformed coconut oil in the taste test. But if you only have coconut oil around it absolutely still works.
- Shredded carrots, coconut, pecans, and crushed pineapple – all the good things! You can sub any nut that you like, I used canned crushed pineapple (without added sugar) but you can also pulse fresh pineapple in a food processor.
- Coconut Palm Sugar – brown sugar also works
- Cream cheese and powdered sugar – for the cream cheese frosting or if you are dairy-free you can substitute whipped coconut cream.
TOOLS YOU WILL USE:
- Mixing bowls
- Electric mixer or standing mixer
- 8″ round cake pans – you will need two
MAKE AHEAD AND STORAGE TIPS:
- To Make Ahead: cake layers can be made one day in advance, wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature. The frosting can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
- To Store: Cover the cake and store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days, allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving.
- To Freeze: Cut your cake into slices and freeze each individually in airtight freezer-safe storage for up to 2 months. Remove and thaw in the refrigerator. (I WISH I did this with a few of my test batches!)
A NOTE ABOUT CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
I wanted a classic (ish) thick cream cheese frosting for this cake, with one tweak. I don't like super sweet frosting. I found cream cheese frosting recipes with 3 cups of powdered sugar THREE CUPS!
Talk about a sugar bomb!
I used 3/4 of a cup, if this produces too tangy of a frosting for your taste you can easily add more.
If you are vegan or not into powdered sugar and cream cheese try my coconut whipped cream frosting instead.
NUTRITION NERD CORNER🤓
How to Make Baked Goods a Little Healthier!
When developing new baked good recipes I ask myself three key questions:
- Can I reduce the amount of sugar/ sweetener? Does this recipe really need to be this sweet?
- What is the primary flour used, is it possible to upgrade to whole grain or whole food flour rather than using white flour?
- Am I using a good amount of high-quality fat and or protein (i.e. eggs)?
I will not answer yes to ALL three questions for ALL new recipes, and there is absolutely the time and place for old school white flour, butter, sugar recipes (HELLO Christmas cookies!!).
But the big truth is that I LOVE my recipes for baked goods and time and time again I've found that I prefer them to white flour recipes… white flour actually has no flavor!
My almond flour chocolate chip cookies, for instance, have had their own mini-viral moment over the last 2 months, with 100's of people writing in to tell me that they are in fact THE BEST chocolate chip cookies ever!
So if you are looking to upgrade your baking, I recommend beginning by reducing the sugar in a recipe, or swapping out white sugar for maple syrup, honey, or coconut palm sugar AND reducing the amount by at least 25% and see what you think!
A NOTE ON CALORIES:
Baked goods are still baked goods, even when they are made with almond flour! This is not a “low-calorie” recipe, but that is not my goal when upgrading my baked good recipes (see above).
DIETARY MODIFICATIONS FOR THIS RECIPE:
This recipe is gluten-free.
- Paleo – Technically oats are not paleo-friendly so you would need to replace the oats with a paleo-approved flour like coconut flour or more almond flour. I have not tested this version of the recipe so I have no idea if it would work.
- Vegan – Replace the eggs with flax eggs and the cream cheese frosting with coconut whipped cream.
MORE ALMOND FLOUR RECIPES YOU WILL LOVE:
I hope you love this Tropical Carrot Cake Recipe! If you make it sure to tag me @abrapappa on Instagram so I can share your photo!
Tropical Carrot Cake
- 2 cups shredded carrot
- 1 1/2 cups crushed pineapple
- 1 cup shredded coconut unsweetened
- 1 cup chopped pecan
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Prepare two 8" round cake pans by spraying with non-stick spray (I used coconut oil spray) and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
- Place rolled oats in a high speed blender or food processor and process until they are a fine powder. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl combine almond flour, oat flour, arrowroot, baking powder and baking soda, and spices. Whisk to combine.
- Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and avocado oil for one minute until well combined. Add eggs one a at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
- Beat in the flour and spice mixture and mix until well combined.
- Using a wooden spoon add carrots, nuts, coconut, and crushed pineapple to the bowl, stir well.
- Divide batter between two pans.
- Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool in pans on wire rack for one hour. Run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Using an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar, beat until well combined and silky smooth. Add oat milk (or regular milk) by the tablespoonful until you reach desired consistency. Should be thick and spreadable. (I used 2 tbsp of oat milk).
- I prefer my cream cheese frosting tangy and not too sweet. If you find this recipe too tangy you can easily add more powdered sugar.
- You can substitute any nut for the pecans or leave them out completely. You can also leave out the coconut, but I love how naturally sweet coconut is and the texture it adds to the cake.