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Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Ease of Preparation: Challenging

Preparation Time: about 1 hour

Cook Time: 36-42 minutes

Servings: 12

Recipe By: Test Kitchen

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Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

The traditional carrot cake is delectably re-imagined, layer by sweet layer with this super moist, gluten-free version. It's sweetened with maple syrup and applesauce, then perfectly spiced with organic ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice. Finally we top it off with a velvety orange zest-infused frosting, toasted pecans and coconut.

For the Cake
1 1/2 cups finely grated organic carrots
2 cups gluten-free, organic oat flour*
1 cup organic almond meal
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic coconut sugar, or sucanat or pure cane sugar
2 teaspoons Frontier Organic Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Simply Organic Cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons Simply Organic Ginger
3/4 teaspoon Simply Organic Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Frontier Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon Simply Organic Allspice
4  large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic unsweetened almond milk, or soy or 2%
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons organic pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon Simply Organic Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup organic unrefined coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
 Optional toppings: toasted coconut, toasted chopped pecans or walnuts
Homemade Organic Powdered Sugar
3/4 cup Frontier Organic Cane Sugar
3/4 cup organic coconut sugar**, or organic {Frontier Sucanat}
1 1/2 teaspoons teaspoons arrowroot starch or Frontier Corn Starch
Orange Infused Cream Cheese Frosting
16 ounces organic Neufchatel cream cheese
3 tablespoons full-fat organic Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups homemade organic powdered sugar
2 teaspoons Frontier Organic Orange Peel
3/4 teaspoon Simply Organic Orange Flavoring
1/2 teaspoon Simply Organic Vanilla Extract
We suggest making the frosting first so it can be chilled while the cake is being made and cooled. 1 1/2 cups of traditional organic powdered sugar can be used instead of the homemade variety above. Frosting will be very spreadable and soft. For a stiffer frosting use full-fat cream cheese and omit the Greek yogurt.

For the Cake:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease 2, 8-inch round pans thoroughly with coconut oil or butter.
2. After grating your carrots (small hole side of your grater) spread them over a few paper towels. Place a few more paper towels overtop and lightly blot. Measure out 1 1/2 lightly packed cups and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the oat flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and all spice until combined. In another bowl, whisk the eggs together. Then whisk in the milk, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until thoroughly mixed. Whisk in the coconut oil and then pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredient bowl. Whisk the ingredients together until just combined (when you no longer see dry flour). Scrape the bowl if needed and whisk again. Fold in grated carrots then pour equal amounts of batter into your cake pans. Spread the batter to level out.
4. Place on the middle rack of your oven and bake for 36-42 minutes. Test each cake with a toothpick for doneness (one might cook slightly faster than the other if amount of batter varied in the pans.) The toothpick should come out moist but not gooey.
5. Place on cooling racks and cool for about 1 hour. Slide a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen then place one hand on the top of the cake and one holding the pan. Flip the pan over slowly, allow the cake to drop to your hand, and place on the cooling rack. Repeat with other pan and allow cakes to fully cool before frosting.

For the Powdered Sugar:
1. Place all ingredients in your blender and blend starting on low working to the highest setting until the sugar is fully powdered (like traditional powdered sugar). Blend in 2 batches if necessary.
2. Measure out 1 1/2 cups for the cream cheese frosting and store the excess in a sealed container in your pantry.

For the Frosting:
1. Place cream cheese and Greek yogurt in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed until completely smooth.
2. Add in your homemade powdered sugar and beat on low working to medium until fully combined and smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
3. Beat in the orange zest, vanilla extract, and orange flavoring until fully combined.
4. Cover in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or overnight) before frosting the cake.

To Frost the Cake:
1. Line the outer edge of the plate or cake stand you’ll be serving the cake on with torn pieces of wax paper or parchment paper. Place the first layer centered on the plate or cake stand (you want the wax paper sticking out a few inches from under the cake all the way around the plate). Evenly spread frosting on top of the first layer then place the next layer on top. Adjust top layer if needed to level the cake. Frost the top and the sides. Carefully pull all pieces of the wax paper out from under the cake and you should have a clean plate. Top with toasted coconut and nuts if desired. Store in the fridge and remove about 1 hour prior to serving.

=*If you cannot tolerate gluten-free oat flour feel free to substitute with a high quality all-purpose gluten-free flour for the oat flour only (outcome will vary slightly from original). Oat flour can be ground in a blender or food processor from organic and gluten-free oat groats, steel cut oats, or rolled oats [not quick oats] until flour-like in texture. Sift out any larger pieces if necessary. Best ground in 1 cup batches. Almond meal can be ground from organic raw almonds [skin on] in a blender or food processor until flour-like in texture. Sift out any hard pieces if necessary. Best ground in 1 cup batches.

**This homemade powdered sugar lends a caramel-like flavor from the coconut sugar (no coconut taste!) and is less refined than traditional powdered sugar. This can be made using all pure cane sugar if needed.
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