If you think you’ve had carrot cake the right way, you are wrong!!! You’ll never turn back after trying this insanely delicious Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Pineapple Apple Craisin Compote. Plus, who doesn’t love a little tangy cream cheese frosting???
I am fully aware that Easter is over. Spring has came and spring has sprung. Summer is speedily cruising around the corner.
But first, do carrots really have a season? And thus, is carrot cake really only limited to one spring holiday out of the year?
I think not.
And on a slightly more serious and religious note, I am quite positive that the purpose of Easter should be celebrated year round. I know in my heart that the blessings of the Resurrection weren’t meant to be felt or observed for just one day. Those redeeming graces are there for us whenever we reach out.
In the past two weeks since Easter has passed, I have continued to be reminded of this holiday.
First of all, I have only one Easter decoration. Yes, one. Actually, I may have a few more hidden throughout the house somewhere, but I had no intention of finding them this year. This time around I hung just one sign. It read: “Happy Easter”. I hung it from my highest kitchen cabinets, high enough that it requires standing on the counter top or fetching a stool to get it down.
So every night since Easter, I walk past that sign, smile at the thought of Easter, and say to myself, “Tomorrow I will take it down…I have no energy left to climb.”
In addition to the sign, Emry just barely had an Easter egg hunt celebration yesterday in one of the preschool groups she attends. I thought it was so funny that they would plan an egg hunt 2 weeks later, but she sure wasn’t complaining. There was only joy, especially since one of her eggs was filled with a completely melted chocolate bar which was quickly smeared all over her face in an attempt to get every last smidgen off of the wrapper.
And lastly, today I received some news of an amazing young man close to our family who passed away. He was nothing short of an amazing brother, son, uncle, and friend to those he knew. I know he will be greatly missed by his family and my heart goes out to those who are mourning his loss.
Again, Easter came to my mind. How comforting it is to have just celebrated a season representative of new and eternal life, knowing that those who die will also receive life again. I believe this to be true.
Speaking of Easter, we had a fabulous day with just our own little family. Usually we have a large gathering of friends or family for holidays, but this one was different. It was just the four of us. We wanted to keep it simple seeing as how it was our last day together before Ben flew off for the next 5 weeks. Although we enjoyed one another’s company, the day was anything short of simple. I think I’ve realized I just don’t do simple very well, especially when it comes to food.
I feel this need to put my best foot forward when it involves holiday desserts. They should be nothing short of extraordinary, in my opinion. So, of course, I made a ginormous four layer Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Pineapple Apple Craisin Compote for our tiny family of four. That makes sense, right?
Okay, I admit, slightly crazy. BUT, also CRAZY GOOD!
We all shared and dug into a single (but FOUR layer) piece of cake and enjoyed every last crumb. The cake was tender and moist. The frosting was sweet with a slight cream cheese tang. And the filling…oh the filling…it was divine!
Starting with the cake. It’s loaded with all those yummy carrot cake spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. This is one of those desserts that is as equally delicious as it smells. Really, if you don’t believe me, take a sniff with each bite just to compare.
The cake is also moist and tender with addition of finely shredded carrots and 1/2 a cup of brown sugar. Brown sugar tends to retain moisture better in baked goods than just granulated sugar alone. Not always the best in Hawaii since our baked goods tend to go limp with all the humidity in the air, but it served this cake well.
Now the frosting. Who doesn’t love a classic cream cheese buttercream? Well I do! And to give this frosting even more tang to balance out the sweetness, I added a few tablespoons of sour cream. On point!
But the star of the show is this fabulous pineapple apple craisin compote. Just imagine tidbits of apples and pineapples cooked in butter until tender, then mixed into caramel with sweet and chewy pieces of raisins and craisins. It’s a sticky, sweet, tangy explosion in your mouth. It’s the hidden surprise within the layers of the cake.
And then to top things off, literally, sprinkle some toasted sweetened coconut flakes on top of that frosted tower of cake and you have a showcase dessert for sure. I’m telling you, this cake is dressed to impress.
Do you have a traditional carrot cake recipe that you love?
- For the cake:*
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon ginger
- ¾ cup white rice flour
- ½ cup gluten free oat flour
- ½ cup potato starch
- ⅓ cup brown rice flour
- ¼ cup tapioca starch
- 2 cups finely shredded carrots
- For the filling:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup finely chopped apples
- 1 cup finely chopped pinapple
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup craisins
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- dash of nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and salt
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- For the cream cheese frosting:**
- ½ stick butter, room temperature
- 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 2-3 tablespoons sour cream
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla
- dash of salt
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8" round pans. Line bottom with cut out circular parchment paper. Lightly flour sides of baking pans with white or brown rice flour. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, and eggs until smooth.
- In a smaller separate bowl, sift together cinnamon, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, rice flour, oat flour, potato starch, brown rice flour, and tapioca starch. Add mixture to wet ingredients and stir with spoon until well combined.
- Shred carrots and add to batter. Stir until well incorporated. Divide batter evenly between pans and bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean.
- Remove pans from oven and set on cooling rack. Run a sharp knife along the edges. Let cool for 15 minutes and then carefully flip cakes out onto cooling rack to continue cooling.
- While cake is baking, make filling. Finely chop apple and pineapple. Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan. Once pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles, add apple, pineapple, raisins, and craisins. Saute for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning, until apples are beginning to soften. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, salt, and brown sugar. Stir until sugar has melted. Reduce heat to a simmer (low boil) and cook uncovered for 25 minutes until most liquid has reduced. Stir every 3 to 4 minutes to avoid burning. Remove from heat and allow to completely cool.
- To make frosting, cream together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add sour cream, dash of salt, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Add additional 2 cups of powdered sugar. Mix until smooth. Whip on high speed for 1 minute. Add more sour cream or sugar to achieve desired consistency.
- To assemble double layer cake: Place bottom layer on serving dish. Spoon cooled pineapple compote on top spreading to about ⅛ inch away from edge. Place second layer on top. Frost top and sides of cake, using additional frosting to decorate.
- To assemble a 4 layer cake: First, double the cake recipe for two extra cakes. Place bottom layer on serving dish. Spread with a layer of frosting, coming to about ⅛" away from edge of cake. Add second cake layer. Spoon compote on top and spread ⅛" away from edges.
- Add third layer of cake. Spread frosting on top of layer. Add fourth cake layer. Spread frosting on top almost to the very edge. Decorate top with additional frosting.
- Serve cake room temperature. Store leftovers in airtight container in fridge for up to one week or in freezer for up to three months.
**Frosting will be enough to fully frost a double layer cake with frosting on top and sides, or to frost the first, third, and top layer of a 4 layer cake without frosting the sides.