Carrot Cake with Orange Maple Cashew Cream Frosting

Please excuse the 37 photos in this post.

This cake was acting mighty fine, so I just couldn’t help myself.

Do you see the nice downward curve in the middle of the cooling rack?

This cake has quite a bit of heft to it.

It’s incredibly dense, but not in a heavy-like-a-brick kind of way way.  It nearly melts in your mouth.  You could eat it all on its own without even a lick of frosting.  But why would you want to do a thing like that? 

One question I am asked time + time again is about the differences between almond flour and almond meal.

Almond FLOUR ---> Ground from blanched, skinless almonds – This produces a lighter + softer texture in comparison to almond meal, making it more ideal for baking cakes + cupcakes.

Almond MEAL ---> Ground from raw almonds (unsalted/unroasted) – This produces a slightly heavier texture and darker color, due to the skins being ground in the flour as well.  It’s a bit mealier, hence the name, almond meal.However, once baked it doesn’t result in a grainy texture.

Both almond meal and almond flour add an abundance of moisture to whatever you’re baking.  I’ve found that it is an incredible addition to almost all gluten-free baked goods.  Almond flour/meal is one of the reasons I find my baked goods don’t need starches or gums to improve their texture.

Since this flour is ground from a nut and not a grain, it is both gluten-free and grain-free.  This also means it has nearly no binding power whatsoever.  Eggs are key when baking with this flour.  Ground flax meal can also work for binding, but takes a bit more experimentation to get it just right.

You can grind your own almond flour or meal at home in a high-speed blender or food processor. 

  • grind 1 cup maximum of raw almonds or blanched almonds by pulsing the blender/processor on and off to prevent heat and moisture build up
  • sift the flour and return any larger pieces back to the blender to grind again
  • let the flour fully cool (it becomes warm while grinding) and then store in a sealed jar in the fridge to retain maximum freshness

While grinding your own almond flour works well in a pinch, if you want a more delicate texture I would recommend buying it.  Honeyville almond flour seems to be the most popular.  You can find almond meal at Trader Joes and Natural Grocers for about $4/pound. 

For this cake I made one layer with almond flour and one with almond meal.  In this case you could not tell the difference between the two.  I think this was due to using a combination of flours and not 100% almond meal/flour.

And now for the frosting.

Cashew cream is one of the most versatile mixtures to have on hand in the kitchen.  It can easily be turned sweet or savory and used in sauces, dips, soups, spreads, frostings, and more.  It’s a great option when you need to make a creamy recipe dairy-free or vegan. 

We are hooked on the stuff over here!

Don’t go into this expecting your typical butter cream.  This is something entirely different.

But do expect a luscious, maple sweetened, orange infused, super creamy, cashew frosting. 

I dare you to not lick clean every single object the frosting touches.

Yeah…good luck with that.

Print this!

Carrot Cake with Orange Maple Cashew Cream Frosting

gluten-free, dairy-free // yields 2, 8-inch round cakes

for the cake:

  • 1 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 1 cup almond meal or almond flour
  • 1/2 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon all-spice
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
  • 4 eggs, whisked
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • roasted chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
  1. Preheat your oven to 350*F and thoroughly grease and flour 2, 8-inch cake pans. Knock out excess flour.
  2. In a large mixing bowl stir your dry ingredients together until well combined.
  3. Lightly pat the grated carrots with a paper towel.
  4. In another mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, applesauce, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
  5. Whisk in the grated carrot.
  6. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir together with a large wooden spoon until just combined. Avoid over-stirring.
  7. Pour evenly into the cake pans and bake for 33-38 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness.
  8. Let cool for 15-20 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a cooling rack and let fully cool before frosting.
  9. Frost each layer, then sprinkle with roasted nuts if desired.
  10. Wrap and refrigerate any leftovers.

tips/substitutions: Sucanat or pure cane sugar can be used in place of coconut sugar.  Almond meal and almond flour can be interchanged in this recipe.  Safflower, sunflower, or canola oil can be used instead of coconut oil. Be sure all of your liquid ingredients are at room temp so your melted coconut oil does not solidify when whisked into the mixture.  1-2% milk or unsweetened soymilk will also work.  Cake can be made a day ahead.  Let fully cool then wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store on your counter overnight.  If you want to make this a single layer cake, I recommend using a 9x13 pan.  Bake time will increase.  Set oven to 370*F and use 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder if you’re around 5,000’ altitude.

for the frosting:

  • 2 cups raw (unsalted) cashews
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1/3 – 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  1. Soak the cashews covered in water in a bowl overnight or for at least 4 hours.  Or, cover cashews with water in a pot and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat off, cover the pot and let sit for 1 hour.  Drain and rinse the cashews with cold water.
  2. Measure out 2 cups of the soaked cashews.  There will be extra, as they expand when soaked.
  3. Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender, starting with 1/3 cup milk.
  4. Blend until smooth, adding more milk until desired consistency is reached.  Scrape the sides of the blender as needed. 
  5. Taste and add more maple syrup for added sweetness.
  6. Refrigerate until fully chilled.
  7. Refrigerate excess frosting in a sealed container for 3-4 days.

tips/substitutions: 1-2% milk or unsweetened soymilk would also work well for this frosting.  Honey or agave can also be subbed for the maple syrup.  I used about 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons for a very smooth and pourable frosting. It will thicken slightly as it sits.  For a thick, stiff frosting add milk slowly and scrape the sides as needed to help it smooth out.

The winners from the good beangiveaway are:

Lindsay - Okay, ready? Beans (esp. black) + craisins + baked sweet potato + kale massaged with garlic, apple cider vinegar, liquid aminos, molasses, and peanut butter, and all topped with chili powder (sounds like the chili lime would be perfect!). I'm telling you, I can't get enough of this combo!

Katie - I eat beans daily! I am a freshman in college, so a common source of protein in the dining halls that is not meat is beans. Lately, I have been heading straight for the black beans and salsa to pile on top of a bed of spinach. These chickpeas would be a welcome substitute though! I miss FLAVOR.

Congrats to you both and thanks to everyone who entered!