Carrots! Monash University has told us that carrots have no detectable FODMAPs at the generous amounts that they tested so this is one food we can feel safe about eating – so we made carrot cake! (For information about lab testing and carrots, read this article).
So how about tucking a whole pound of shredded carrots into a luscious, moist, cinnamon-accented gluten-free carrot cake with nuts and raisins and a lactose-free cream cheese frosting? Do. I. Hear. A. YES????
Old Fangled to New
I have made carrot cakes for restaurants and bakeries and developed carrot cake recipes for corporate clients and magazines and published recipes in many of my books – including a book on wedding cakes and yes, it carrot cake was chosen by many a bride that I baked for, producing multi-tiered carrot cake creations.
Carrot cake is a classic that will never go away – because it is so delicious! And it happens to be super easy, too. You can even whip up the cake batter by hand.
Of all the cakes that I have re-worked from my pre- FODMAP days, this one is just as delicious if not better than the original. There is no way anyone will know this is gluten-free or part of a “diet”. Carrot cake aficionados have told me this is the best carrot cake they have ever had. Truth.
One Cake – Two Looks
I decided to create two different looks for this cake. Check out the images below with the slider function. The cake can be filled and topped with the Cream Cheese Frosting, with the sides of the two cake layers left bare naked. Or, you can use the same amount of frosting and schmear it thinly on the sides, leaving some of the cake peeking through.
I love both approaches and have a hard time choosing. Let me know which you make! (And I’d love to see pictures).
The carrots “growing” out of the cake is a styling trick that’s been around for a while. I created a version of this with carrot cake cupcakes in my Baker’s Field Guide to Cupcakes.
Grab the slider below and play with the “naked” vs. schmeared look to help you decide your approach.
The real carrots aren’t actually pressed into the cake (although you could do that). They are just cut to height and the frosting acts as glue. They certainly aren’t necessary, but they are damn cute.
Looking for more special cakes, for special occasions? Check out our article, 15 Low FODMAP & Gluten-Free Birthday Cakes & Celebratory Treats.
Low FODMAP Carrot Cake
Our low FODMAP carrot cake is gluten-free and super easy to make - you don't even need a mixer, although one comes in handy for the frosting.
- 2 cups (290 g) low FODMAP gluten-free all-purpose flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder; use gluten-free if following a gluten-free diet
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (240 ml) vegetable oil, such as canola or rice bran
- 3/4 cup (149 g) sugar
- 1/2 cup (107 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pound (455 g) carrots, scrubbed, stem ends trimmed and discarded, finely grated
- 3/4 cup (125 g) raisins
- 3/4 cup (75 g) toasted walnut halves or whole pecans, chopped
- 6 tablespoons (¾ stick; 85 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
- 3 cups (270 g) sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 cup (113 g) Green Valley Organics lactose-free cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice, preferably freshly squeezed (see Tips)
For the Cake: Position rack in middle of oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Coat two 9 x 2-inch (23 cm x 5 cm) round cake pans with nonstick spray, line bottoms with parchment rounds, then spray parchment.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large mixing bowl to aerate and combine; set aside.
Whisk together oil, sugar and brown sugar until well blended in a mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs one at a time until mixture is smooth and combined. Whisk in cinnamon and vanilla, then use a large, sturdy spatula to fold in the carrots, raisins and nuts.
Pour wet ingredients over dry and fold in until combined. Divide batter evenly in prepared pans and smooth batter with an offset spatula.
Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick shows a few moist crumbs. Cool pans on racks for 10 minutes. Unmold, peel off parchment, and place directly on racks to cool completely. Layers are ready to fill and frost. Alternatively, place layers on cardboards and double wrap in plastic wrap; store at room temperature and assemble within 24 hours.
Make the Frosting: Beat the butter in a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, until very creamy and smooth, for about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and cream cheese and begin by beating on low speed. As the frosting comes together and you aren’t in danger of confectioners’ sugar flying everywhere, turn speed up to high and beat until very creamy and smooth. Scrape down the bowl once or twice during the process to make sure everything is blended evenly and smoothly. The frosting is ready to use and best if used immediately.
Apply the Frosting: Decide which frosting application you are going to use. For either approach, place one cake round on serving platter. Spread frosting on top of this bottom cake layer, going all the way to the edges. Place second layer on top.
If you want to leave the cake sides bare, apply the remaining frosting just to the top of the uppermost layer, leaving the sides naked and pristine.
If you want to schmear the sides with a thin veil of frosting, simply do just that! I like to use a small straight icing spatula. Apply a thin layer to the sides and be a little more generous for the top.
The cake is done and needs no additional décor. If you want to replicate the images, simply by some slender fresh carrots with their tops attached and trim the carrots themselves and then press them into the frosting right before serving. Some extra cinnamon can be sprinkled on top to look like dirt, it you like.
The cake may be served immediately, or refrigerated for up to 2 days under a cake dome (so as to not disturb the frosting). Bring to room temperature before serving.
- I have a love/hate relationship with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Well, “hate” is too strong of a word but let’s just say it can be complicated. The fact is that nothing compares to the bright, clean flavor of freshly squeezed lemon juice, yet I do understand that it is common not to have fresh lemons around and/or they can be pricey. And when there is a recipe like this where the lemon juice amount is small, it is nice to have a convenience product to use. There is one, and only one, lemon juice product that I recommend and that is the frozen Minute Made Premium 100% Pure Lemon Juice. It has an incomparably fresh lemon flavor with no preservatives or additives; no other bottled or commercially available lemon juice comes close. It is a recipe developer’s favorite and we think you will like it, too. Buy a couple of bottles. Have one in the fridge and one in reserve in the freezer. Look for a black and yellow box in the freezer section near the concentrated juices. Inside is a 7.5 ounce/221.8 ml bright yellow squeeze bottle that is easy to find once stored in the refrigerator and easy to handle. You can easily squeeze out 1 teaspoon, if that is what you need. Once defrosted it lasts for 8 weeks (refrigerated) and there is even a little area on the bottle where you can write in the date when it was initially defrosted.
- One of our community members baked this in a 13-inch by 9-inch (33 cm by 23 cm) pan and it worked perfectly. She started checking at 20 minutes and then about 10 minutes later as well.
Our recipes are based on Monash University and FODMAP Friendly science.
- Butter: Both Monash University and FODMAP Friendly have lab tested butter. Monash states that a low FODMAP Green Light portion is 1 tablespoon or 19 g and also states that “butter is high in fat and does not contain carbohydrates (FODMAPs)”. FODMAP Friendly gives it a “Pass” at 1 tablespoon or 19 g. Both recommended serving sizes are presented as part of healthy eating guidelines, not as maximum FODMAP serving size. Fat can affect guy motility and trigger IBS symptoms in some people. Eat to your tolerance.
- Carrots: Carrots have been lab tested and deemed low FODMAP by both Monash University and FODMAP Friendly. According to Monash carrots contain no FODMAPs.
Oil: All pure oils are fats and contain no carbohydrates, therefore they contain no FODMAPs.
Raisins: Monash and FODMAP Friendly have both lab tested raisins. While raw grapes contain no FODMAPs, the natural sugars concentrate upon drying and the resulting raisins do contain FODMAPs. Monash says a low FODMAP Green Light serving is 1 Australian tablespoon (13 g). FODMAP Friendly gives them a “Pass” at 3 tablespoons (30 g).
Sugar: Monash University and FODMAP Friendly have both lab tested white, granulated sugar. Monash states that a Green Light low FODMAP serving size of white sugar is ¼ cup (50 g). FODMAP Friendly simply states that they have tested 1 tablespoon and that it is low FODMAP. Regular granulated white sugar is sucrose, which is a disaccharide made up of equal parts glucose and fructose. Sucrose is broken down and absorbed efficiently in the small intestine.
Walnuts: Both Monash University and FODMAP Friendly have lab tested walnuts. FODMAP Friendly gives them a “Pass” at ¼ cup (30 g) portions. Monash lists the same gram amount as low FODMAP and pegs the volume at 10 walnut halves.
- Please always refer to the Monash University & FODMAP Friendly smartphone apps for the most up-to-date lab tested information. As always, your tolerance is what counts; please eat accordingly. The ultimate goal of the low FODMAP diet is to eat as broadly as possible, without triggering symptoms, for the healthiest microbiome.
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more. For a more detailed explanation, please read our article Understanding The Nutrition Panel Within Our Recipes.