Some-Shade-of-Paleo Carrot Cake

I debated until the very last minute as to whether I was going to keep this cake strictly paleo and go with an entirely dairy free icing or use the cream cheese that I’d bought a few weeks earlier with the very intention of turning it into some deliciously fluffy, sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting.

Looks like dairy took it this time. What can I say? I have a soft spot for cream cheese icing.

Or well, for cheese in general.

Besides, when I decided to give this paleo lifestyle a shot, it was also clear in my mind that I would be paying the “grey zone” a little visit from time to time and enjoy my precious dairy, in one form or another. And yes, that includes my beloved Whey Protein Powder.

Only, cheese will be handled sort of like a treat: it shall be consumed in moderation.

Make that occasionally.

I’m not a fan of the term MODERATION, you see? For really, what IS moderation, exactly? What seems very acceptable to me might very well be considered extreme by someone else…

Almost Paleo Carrot Cake | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Please bear with me while I rant a little…

Despite being really passionate about health and food, I’ve never been one to challenge or question other people’s eating habits. To each their own, you know; you do your thing, I do mine. Reversely, I feel the content (or non-content, rather) of my plate is constantly being scrutinized and criticized, like I have some sort of a disorder or something…

I sometimes get the feeling that it’s socially acceptable to have dietary restrictions when your goal is to lose weight but once that weight is gone, you’re expected to unwind, let loose a little, you know.

Having dietary restrictions solely based on the intent of keeping fit and healthy? You must be a freak!

So anyway, I was sitting in a restaurant the other day with a bunch of people when the conversation got to my “crazy dietary restrictions” once again. Funny thing is it started with them discussing the possibility of ordering a piece of carrot cake to share for dessert.

Of course, that brought up the almost inevitable, too often heard comment: “But you, Sonia, you’re not ALLOWED having that, right?”  

Although unintentionally, my eyes rolled.

Like yeah. If I dare touch that piece of cake, the police will come rushing right through that front door and take me away with unnecessary force!

Please, please let me get one thing straight, I said. I am ALLOWED eating ANYTHING I want. A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G! Only I CHOOSE not to eat certain foods.

BIG difference.

Of course, someone then had to bring out the classic “Well, I strongly believe that everything is good, in moderation” argument.

Everything. In moderation.

Apparently, this works beautifully for them. And they make it feel like their vision would be right while mine is undoubtedly flawed. Abnormal. Unrealistic.

Yet, they seem to always have some health issue or another to talk about: poor digestion, regularity issues, frequent UTI, liver problems, difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, constant tiredness, lack of energy, diagnosed elevated blood sugar…

Oh, and of course, every now and then, they’ll bring up the issue of that unsightly fat and how they’re gonna need lipo someday, to get rid of it once and for all, you know.

But hey, everything in moderation IS good, right?

No thank you, not for me!

Here’s what I choose to have in moderation: physical discomfort, health issues, body fat… and well, yeah… Some of that cake!

Almost Paleo Carrot Cake | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

So, about that cake… let’s get back to it, shall we?

I’m not going to bs you and tell you that this one was a piece of cake to make.

In fact, I came *this* close to chucking the whole darn thing.

For yeah, it was a wicked witch to make.

But you know what? In retrospect, I realize that most of my struggles were mainly due to my cutting corners and failing to line my cake pans with parchment paper.

This resulted in my cakes sticking to them BIG TIME. They clung to the pans like their very lives depended on it.

How I managed to save them and extract them from there in one piece is still a mystery. (well, ok, I’ll be honest: it wasn’t exactly one piece, but few enough pieces that I was able to put them back together and make it look all nice and beautiful and good as new.)

And I’m so glad I did! Chucking this puppy would have been such a disaster!

Almost Paleo Carrot Cake | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

That cake is serious business! It has to be the richest tasting carrot cake I’ve ever had. You’d swear it was filled with loads of butter! Plus, it’s insanely moist, tender and melt-in-your-mouth soft.

And despite containing no refined sugar whatsoever, it’s unbelievably sweet and deliciously spicy. Seriously, you would NEVER guess that this one was nutritious if you didn’t know.

How about that frosting? It plays its role to the absolute perfection:

  • It adds that little hint of creamy, a bit of tangy and just what it takes of salty.  
  • It cements everything perfectly together. 
  • It turns the ordinary into extraordinary. 
  • It makes you want to close your eyes and lose yourself in the moment…

As for the toasted coconut, I think it’s the absolute perfect complement for that cake. In fact, it’s such a magical combination that I can’t even begin to understand how come I never added it to my carrot cakes before now.

Final verdict? Carrot cake, cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut go absolutely perfectly well together…

Without moderation!

Some-Shade-of-Paleo Carrot Cake

Yield: Serves 12

Nutritional Information based on 1 of 12 servings

Some-Shade-of-Paleo Carrot Cake

INGREDIENTS

    For the cake
    Wet ingredients
  • 375g carrots, finely grated
  • 1 small can (398ml) crushed pineapple in unsweetened pineapple juice (or 1 cup fresh pineapple very finely chopped and ½ cup unsweetened natural pineapple juice)
  • 45g fresh ginger, minced
  • The juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 4 whole eggs, lightly beaten
  • Dry Ingredients
  • 100g coconut flour
  • 175g almond meal
  • 75g arrowroot flour
  • 75g chopped walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 120g dried apricots, chopped
  • 100g raisins
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried ginger
  • 1 tsp Himalayan or unrefined sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground clove
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • For the icing
  • 500g full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 150g coconut butter
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup unpasteurized honey
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • Garnish
  • ½ cup unswseetened toasted coconut shavings

INSTRUCTIONS

    To make the cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 375F; grease two 9" round cake pans with coconut oil and line the bottom with parchment paper. This step is absolutely crucial, trust me; do not skip it! (unless your idea of fun is to spend hours trying to figure out how to get two very fragile cakes out of a pan without completely destroying them)
  2. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients and mix well with a large whisk until fully incorporated. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, add wet ingredients and mix until well blended. Pour into dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until well combined.
  4. Divide mixture equally between the two prepared pans.
  5. Bake for one hour or until the edges take a nice golden coloration and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Leave cakes in the pans to cool on a wire rack then transfer them to refrigerator until completely chilled, at least 4-6 hours, or overight.
  7. To make the frosting
  8. Add coconut butter and cream cheese to the bowl of your stand mixer;
  9. Using the paddle attachment, beat them together on medium speed until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes. You’ll want to scrape the sides 2-3 times to get every last bit mixed in.
  10. Add honey, coconut flour and vanilla and resume beating for about one minute.
  11. Switch to the whip attachment and whip on high speed until the icing becomes smooth and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Again, scrape the sides every now and then to get everything well mixed in.
  12. Assembly
  13. Delicately run a knife or small spatula along the side of the cakes to help them detach from the pan.
  14. Carefully unmold the cakes. As they are fairly fragile, make sure you offer them good support as you take them out of the pan. The best way to go about it is to put a rack or flat plate over the pan and flip it upside down.
  15. Place one of the cakes, bottom side up, onto a cake board that’s just a hair smaller than your cake (about 8½”). If you don’t have a cake board, you can make your own by cutting out a piece of sturdy cardboard and covering it neatly with foil.
  16. Spoon a mound of frosting, about 1/3 cup, on top of the bottom cake. Spread it evenly over the cake, all the way to the edge; Place the second cake (again, bottom side up) on top and cover the entire cake with the rest of the icing.
  17. Press toasted coconut shavings all the way around the side of the cake. The easiest way to do this is to put the coconut in a large plate or bowl and, while holding the cake in one hand, press the coconut against the side of the cake with your other hand, letting the excess fall back into the bowl. Repeat while carefully turning the cake until side is completely coated.
  18. Add a little mound of coconut right in the center and place cake onto a pretty, decorative cake plate.
http://thehealthyfoodie.com/some-shade-of-paleo-carrot-cake/

Almost Paleo Carrot Cake | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Almost Paleo Carrot Cake | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Almost Paleo Carrot Cake | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Almost Paleo Carrot Cake | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Almost Paleo Carrot Cake | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

 

 

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Comments

  1. says

    So I’m completely new to gluten-free eating (I’m an “experimenter” – no celiacs or anything…just curious) and have been learning a lot recently and still feel like there’s a lot to learn! My question is…what is the point of the arrowroot flour here? Why can’t more coconut flour be used instead?

    • says

      Hey Grace, one doesn’t have to be diagnosed celiacs to experiment the benefits of removing all forms of grains and gluten from their diet! I for one never really had real “issues” with them, except for mild discomfort and I do feel much better without them. As for the arrowroot flour, I don’t know that it’s absolutely necessary, only I like to add some because it has very high thickening and binding properties while being light and delicate in consistency. I figure that one could get away with using coconut flour exclusively, however. Although I think that, if I were to try that, I would up the eggs a little bit, just as a precautionary measure… I’d probably add at least one, or even two more.

      Hope this helps! :)

      • says

        Oh so arrowroot acts a bit like cornstarch!? Very interesting. It’s amazing just how many flours there are out there! I’m afraid I can never do “grain-free” – I love rice just a tad too much! :) I noticed you had an older recipe for a cake using whole wheat flour – do you still occasionally cook/bake with wheat? Just in “moderation” (I know how much you love that word!! haha)

      • says

        Arrowroot acts exactly like cornstarch! They have the exact same properties. And you know, I used to think that I could never do grain free or practically dairy free either… but I’ve been eating strictly paleo for the past 2 months and a half now and I am loving it. Although I might still find it challenging at times, I’m really loving the benefits, so I really don’t intend to go back anytime soon. Plus, no one says that I can’t EVER have a slice of pizza or a piece of toast, or even a nice bowl of sticky rice from time to time. There’s no actual grain police out there to arrest “allegedly-grain-free-people-who-dared-cross-the-line” ;)

        And I guess that sort of answers your question… I don’t use wheat or any other type of grain flours to bake anymore, and don’t intend to either, not even in moderation! ;) (Well, save for perhaps pizza dough once in a blue moon). I still have bags upon bags of such flours in my cupboards that I don’t quite know what to do with… ;)

      • says

        I like that – “the grain police” haha. Good for you for going Paleo! We are just taking it a day at a time. Not sure that’s the best way but it’s working for us! :)

  2. says

    Oh my, this cake looks divine! Though I’m allergic to coconut, I can use nuts instead. i agree with you. Cream cheese frosting is the best! Hey, the cake is healthy already. So, why not use cream cheese? It all balances out in the end, accept for those who dairy-intolerant. And I’m sure they already have a sub that they can use. Love your blog, and your photography!

    • says

      You are allergic to coconut? Really? Oh my… I would be devastated! Not a day goes by without me eating coconut in one form or another. Do you get real severe reactions?

      And I am right with you on the cream cheese thing. Plus, it’s not like it’s a totally empty and unhealthy food, either! ;)

      Thank you for your kind words, Carla. I really appreciate that! :D

  3. says

    Holy smokes, for a cake that was crumbling to pieces, you’ve made it look absolutely beautiful Sonia!! I’m not a big desserts person, but if I had to pick a favourite cake, it’d be carrot cake. And that whole having others scrutinize your plate thing – I SO hear ya. I feel like I get stares every time I order a salad and ask for the dressing on the side, or send it back because they didn’t remember to keep it on the side. I have no weight to lose and am totally content with my body image, but I feel like other people sometimes think I’m doing it for weight loss reasons and that is totally not the case! I just like to taste my veggies, not all dressing!

  4. says

    This doesn’t look healthy at all!! And I totally get ya on the cakes sticking to the pans. I was under pressure last weekend to make this decadent chocolate cake for a local restaurant and the cake ripped right in half even though I lined the pan with parchment AND sprayed with cooking spray. I almost died. But the chocolate frosting and ganache covered everything beautifully. I can’t even tell the cake fell apart, you’re a pro :)

  5. Eileen says

    I just had to say I loved your rant :)
    I can sympathize with you.
    It’s like people don’t understand being / eating healthy.
    Why make yourself feel like crap? You can still enjoy life while being healthy and eating what works for your body. Actually enjoy life more that way!

  6. says

    Sonia, this cake looks insane! In a good way! Sorry you were frustrated – it seems like everyone has an opinion and feels the need to share it when we make certain dietary choices, like eliminating gluten or other things. I think the “everything in moderation” bit that some people beat to death is really just to make themselves feel better about their own poor choices or lack of discipline. I’m not saying that it doesn’t work for many people, but in general I find that the ones who are saying it to me are the ones who would really benefit from cutting out gluten, refined carbs/sugars, etc. but instead they tear down my choices as though I’m being extreme and they are the reasonable ones. If it’s reasonable to alternatively binge and starve, require pills to manage your blood sugar, and suffer from IBS, bloating and other digestive issues exacerbated by poor eating habits. I finally decided that I’m going to do what is right for me, and the heck with everyone else. But it’s definitely annoying when these same people who are stuffing their faces with donuts and candy bars are whining about how lousy they feel all the time! Well DUH! STOP EATING CRAP AND YOU WON’T FEEL LIKE CRAP!!! Whew, sorry, got a little carried away there…point is, I feel your pain Sister!!! Ha ha!

    • says

      LOL, Sarah, that’s awesome!!! Funny, I got the exact same comment. People said that it could easily pass for “the real thing” and I’ve had nothing but compliments. So here’s one that we can serve to people and still feel “normal” :D

  7. Ryan says

    Could you convert the grams to a normal measurement please, I don’t have a scale. Thank you

    • says

      Ryan, there are tons of websites that will help you convert those grams to whatever measurement you are looking for. Just Google grams to pounds, or grams to cups and you will get tons of results.

      Hope this helps!

  8. Marika says

    Hey Sonia,

    I can’t wait to try this cake but here in South Africa we only get shredded Coconut and definately no coconut flour, butter, or flakes. If you know of
    a sub for any of the above mentioned, it would be a great help to me.
    Your blog is beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

    Riki

    • says

      Oof… let’s see! Coconut butter you could definitely make your own out of shredded coconut. Just make sure you use unsweetened. Use the same technique described for this toasted coconut butter. The only difference is it might take a little bit longer for the coconut to turn into butter.

      The flakes again, you could very well replace with shredded coconut. That’s not a big deal. Now the coconut flour might be a bit of a bigger issue. Coconut flour has very unique properties and is extremely absorbent, which makes it hard to sub. I would be tempted to use almond flour instead, only you might need to use a little bit more. How much I really can’t say. I would need to experiment some. If I was testing this myself, I would use an extra 175g almond flour and add an extra 25g arrowroot flour. I’m guessing this should do the trick.

      Hope this helps, Marika, and make sure you let me know how the cake turned out for you if you give it a try !

    • Lesley says

      You can now get coconut flour at Wellness Warehouse in Cape Town. There are also health shops in Jozi that stock it…. During the time I couldn’t get it, I subbed desiccated coconut in cake recipes and it worked out fine. That is if coconut flour isn’t the main ingredient of course…

  9. Cindy says

    WOW, looks like a great recipe I need to try. I too, try to be completely Paleo but I indulge in some dairy on special occasions. As I read your tale of the whole conversation about how others perceive that you “can’t eat that”, I started smiling. We had a luncheon at work this week. I ate what I knew was Paleo and then the desserts came out and so did the exact same conversation you had with your friends and I answered it exactly the same way!!

    Thank you!

  10. Katie says

    This looks awesome! Is there a site to convert this to cups though? No kitchen scale. And can I sub anything for arrowroot, like tapioca starch?

    • says

      Thanks, Katie! Not sure about a site to do a reliable conversion. Perhaps your best bet would be to invest in a small kitchen scale. Some can be had for a handful of dollars and they’re a very useful tool to have in the kitchen, I find…

      As for subbing tapioca starch for the arrowroot, I’m pretty sure that it would work just fine! :)

  11. Becca says

    My daughter-in-law’s birthday is coming up soon. Her favorite cake is carrot cake, so I’m going to introduce her to a much healthier version of he cake she already loves! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  12. Bec says

    I made this cake for my daughter-in-law’s birthday and she loved it. She said it was one of the very best carrot cakes she had ever eaten. She didn’t even offer to share the leftovers!!!

  13. Shannon says

    I made this cake for my birthday and it was a big hit… So delicious! Everyone at the party loved it and couldn’t believe it was gluten free paleo and refined sugar free! I made a couple alterations, I cut the fresh ginger by half and topped the cake with chopped walnuts and dried cranberries in addition to coconut! I will definitely make this again and may eat the leftovers for breakfast :)

    • says

      Thank you so much for this amazing feedback, Shannon. You have no idea just how much I appreciate that! And I’m real happy to hear that the cake was a big hit! That’s just music to my ears! Thank you, thank you, thank you! :D

      and ps… enjoy breakfast! ;)

  14. Krystal Ambrose says

    Just made this cake today. I havent tried a bite yet but will let you know how it tasted.:)
    I do have a question on the frosting?

    Mine did not turn out smooth like yours in the pictures. Mine was very crumbly wet looking and did not smooth over the cake well. If I went over the same area it would stick back to my spatula. Seemed as though it was easier to spread with my fingers.

    I followed the frosting recipe exactly. I am wondering if it was the brand of cream cheese I used? I got mine at the health food store so I could find a more natural kind called “Nancys”.

    Thanks!
    Krystal
    .

    • says

      It sounds to me like your frosting “separated”, as in water and fat somehow decided to split as opposed to bind and form a beautiful emulsion. If that’s the case, heating it very, very slightly over a double boiler and giving it a good whisk would definitely bring it back to its smooth, spreadable consistency.

      • Krystal Ambrose says

        I tried warming the cream cheese like you said and it worked! It came out just like yours.
        I did cut half the ginger out. My first cake was a lil much and this second one came out good. Everyone at the birthday party really liked it. They were surprised it was sugarless and flour-less since there use to the yucky regular type of cakes.

        To give it a little more sweetness, I added pure maple syrup to the carrots and let it soak for a bit and then poured it all in the batter.

        Thanks so much for this!

      • says

        Thank you so much for this amazing feedback, Krystal. LOVE the idea of soaking the carrots in maple syrup. I might steal that from ya! ;)

        Oh, and glad you were able to save the frosting!

  15. Meghan says

    I just made this cake, and it’s delicious! However it’s not as moist as a traditional carrot cake. I’m wondering if this might be because of my conversions – I’m in New York and work in U.S. cups and ounces, and wound up doing a lot of estimating. Is there any reliable way to measure these ingredients without owning a food scale?

    • says

      Sorry to say, Meghan, but if this cake didn’t turn out crazy moist, it can only mean that a lot of your estimating was off… because trust me, it really should come out SUPER moist. There are a lot of great sources on the Internet to convert grams to ounces, but that wouldn’t be of much use if you don’t own a kitchen scale… Frankly, these can be had for so little money now, I think they’re an essential addition to any kitchen. I know I could never be without mine!

      • Meghan says

        Luckily I made a half batch just in case this were to happen. I’ll buy a food scale and give it another shot =D

  16. LMT says

    Thank you so much! I baked this cake for my birthday and it tastes amazing! I feel good afterwards too! It tastes just like a carrot cake!

    • says

      Thank YOU for the great feedback, real glad you liked the cake. Now you just made me want to revisit this recipe and make a dairy free version of it. I think I might do that right this week-end! Thanks for the inspiration. :)

Trackbacks

  1. […] 4. Some-Shade-of-Paleo Carrot Cake Paleo is not the strictest of diet plans, because no one knows for sure just what was being eaten 10,000 years ago. This recipe pays tribute to that by clearly stating that it falls under the title of Paleo, but maybe is pushing things a bit on an ingredient or two. So much of Paleo involves deciding how strictly you’re going to follow it. Some go all the way and completely nix things they know weren’t being eaten back then, while others are more lenient and consume certain food items in limited quantities on occasion. […]

  2. […] 4. Some-Shade-of-Paleo Carrot Cake Paleo is not the strictest of diet plans, because no one knows for sure just what was being eaten 10,000 years ago. This recipe pays tribute to that by clearly stating that it falls under the title of Paleo, but maybe is pushing things a bit on an ingredient or two. So much of Paleo involves deciding how strictly you’re going to follow it. Some go all the way and completely nix things they know weren’t being eaten back then, while others are more lenient and consume certain food items in limited quantities on occasion. […]

  3. […] 4. Some-Shade-of-Paleo Carrot Cake Paleo is not the strictest of diet plans, because no one knows for sure just what was being eaten 10,000 years ago. This recipe pays tribute to that by clearly stating that it falls under the title of Paleo, but maybe is pushing things a bit on an ingredient or two. So much of Paleo involves deciding how strictly you’re going to follow it. Some go all the way and completely nix things they know weren’t being eaten back then, while others are more lenient and consume certain food items in limited quantities on occasion. […]

  4. […] 17. Some-Shade-of-Paleo Carrot Cake This is one of the more complex carrots cakes you’ll ever make, but she’s done a fantastic job of keeping this within the boundaries of the Paleo eating guidelines. She hasn’t kept it simple, but if you want a robust carrot cake with more flavor than you can stand, this is the one to choose. It’s bursting with nutritious foods, like raisins, coconut butter, ginger, carrots, walnuts, and apricots, and that’s just getting started. As you can see this carrot cake has a lot going on, so there’s sure to be something in it that you enjoy, and you may even like all of the ingredients it contains. […]

  5. […] 17. Some-Shade-of-Paleo Carrot Cake This is one of the more complex carrots cakes you’ll ever make, but she’s done a fantastic job of keeping this within the boundaries of the Paleo eating guidelines. She hasn’t kept it simple, but if you want a robust carrot cake with more flavor than you can stand, this is the one to choose. It’s bursting with nutritious foods, like raisins, coconut butter, ginger, carrots, walnuts, and apricots, and that’s just getting started. As you can see this carrot cake has a lot going on, so there’s sure to be something in it that you enjoy, and you may even like all of the ingredients it contains. […]

  6. […] 17. Some-Shade-of-Paleo Carrot Cake This is one of the more complex carrots cakes you’ll ever make, but she’s done a fantastic job of keeping this within the boundaries of the Paleo eating guidelines. She hasn’t kept it simple, but if you want a robust carrot cake with more flavor than you can stand, this is the one to choose. It’s bursting with nutritious foods, like raisins, coconut butter, ginger, carrots, walnuts, and apricots, and that’s just getting started. As you can see this carrot cake has a lot going on, so there’s sure to be something in it that you enjoy, and you may even like all of the ingredients it contains. […]

  7. […] 17. Some-Shade-of-Paleo Carrot Cake This is one of the more complex carrots cakes you’ll ever make, but she’s done a fantastic job of keeping this within the boundaries of the Paleo eating guidelines. She hasn’t kept it simple, but if you want a robust carrot cake with more flavor than you can stand, this is the one to choose. It’s bursting with nutritious foods, like raisins, coconut butter, ginger, carrots, walnuts, and apricots, and that’s just getting started. As you can see this carrot cake has a lot going on, so there’s sure to be something in it that you enjoy, and you may even like all of the ingredients it contains. […]

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