Gluten-Free Carrot and Courgette Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Gluten-free carrot and courgette cakeI adore carrot cake, and have a long list of tried and tested recipes which proves just that. Interestingly, there is considerable variation between them, and while most produce a cake that is fairly dense and moist, the texture and taste is influenced not only by the type and quantity of flour, fat and sugar but also by the inclusion – or not – of differing amounts of dried fruit, nuts, spices, alcohol and citrus flavours. And then there’s the topping, which can also be made in a thousand different ways.

I’m more than happy to try any carrot cake, and for me the only critical issue is that it needs to be moist, although a soggy carrot cake – and there’s a fine line between them – is a friend to no-one. I’m also most partial to some kind of cream cheese topping, which I firmly believe should be present in generous amounts.

Gluten-free carrot and courgette cake_4

Still excited by Lily Vanilli’s new book Sweet Tooth (see my previous post), I couldn’t wait to try out her version of carrot cake. In something of a departure from the recipes I’ve used previously, this one contains courgette (zucchini) along with the carrot, and is also gluten-free. But rather than using a gluten-free flour mix, ground almonds act as a substitute instead, adding a soft and subtle nutty taste which complements the overall flavour of the cake extremely well (and which is often developed in other – flour-based –versions with the addition of pecans or walnuts).

It isn’t the most straight-forward carrot cake I’ve made – some of which are wonderfully quick to prepare – but I was really pleased with the result, which captures (for me) all that there is to love about carrot cake. It’s sweet and moist, isn’t over-powered by the cinnamon and nutmeg, and the seeds add texture as well as flavour. Equally, it’s not the healthiest version, and there are some excellent low-fat carrot cakes recipes which are definitely worth a try. And no, it shouldn’t count as one of your ‘five-a-day’.

Gluten-free carrot and courgette cake_2

Recipe: Gluten-Free Carrot and Courgette Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

For the cake
400g peeled and trimmed carrots and courgettes (zucchini), grated
90g sultanas
100ml orange juice
6 eggs
300g caster sugar
250ml olive oil
500g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp grated fresh nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
60g sunflower and pumpkin seeds, plus extra for decorating
 1 batch of cream cheese frosting (see below)


Gluten-free carrot and courgette cake_3Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6, and prepare two 23 cm (9 inch) round cake tins by greasing them with olive oil.

Use kitchen paper to soak up any excess moisture from the grated vegetables, then put them into a bowl, add the sultanas and orange juice and leave to soak.

Whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and airy – approximately 7 minutes. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, beating just enough to incorporate completely.

Mix together the ground almonds and the baking powder, and fold into the wet mixture along with the spices and coconut. Finally, fold in the soaked carrots, courgettes and sultanas, and the seeds.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two prepared cake tins and level out to the edges. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top has risen and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out crumby but clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When cool, spread the base layer with the cream cheese frosting (recipe below), sandwich together and spread more frosting on the top. Sprinkle with more sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

For the cream cheese frosting
125g unsalted butter, softened
200g firm full-fat cream cheese, drained of any liquid
250g icing (powdered) sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract


Gluten-free carrot and courgette cake_8Beat the butter alone for 4-5 minutes, then add the cream cheese and beat for another 2 minutes.

Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes, until smooth and evenly incorporated.

 From: Sweet Tooth, Lily Vanilli

About Georgina

Originally from the South of England, I've also had homes in Australia (Canberra) and the US (Los Angeles). I've been based in the UK city of Sheffield for a couple of years now. My blog is about adventures with food - markets, ingredients, books, recipes, places I've eaten and other related experiences. It focuses on stories from Sheffield, South Yorkshire and nearby Derbyshire, as well as places farther afield.
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21 Responses to Gluten-Free Carrot and Courgette Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. trialsinfood says:

    mmm…that looks good!

  2. gwynnem says:

    I’m looking for a good carrot cake recipe for Easter lunch. It’s a bit down the line, but this recipe looks like a keeper.

    • Georgina says:

      I think this recipe would be great for a special occasion. It’s also larger than a lot of other carrot cakes, so suitable if you’re sharing with family and friends. I hope that you enjoy it!

  3. snati001 says:

    Wow! Carrot cake is one of my favorite cakes and been looking for a GF version so I would like to try this. I recently made some carrot muffins, but I like eating cake better 🙂

  4. Pingback: Chocolate Press « All Things Chocolate

  5. eclecticlamb says:

    Looks great! I love that it is decorated with sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

  6. Lesley says:

    This looks delicious! I’ll also be sharing this with a gluten-free friend of mine – I know she’ll be excited to make this.

  7. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! This cake looks delicious and so moist! I love baking with almond flour, for it’s texture, flavor and rich moistness.

    • Georgina says:

      You’re welcome – and thanks for visiting mine too! I really enjoy your balance between health / nutrition and wonderfully tasty, delicious food.

  8. Pingback: Beetroot Cake with Mascarpone and Raspberries (gluten-free and absolutely amazing) | The Fresh Princess of Bel Air

  9. dinnerbysusan says:

    My very favorite cake!

  10. Pingback: Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Icing | The Fresh Princess of Bel Air

  11. My all time favorite…love ’em!

  12. It sounds really nice and worth a try. Nice blog.

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