My name is Ashley McLaughlin and this is my blog, Edible Perspective. To learn more about my journey head on over to my about + FAQ pages. I'm thrilled that you stopped by. Enjoy!


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Baked Doughnuts For Everyone: From Sweet to Savory to Everything in Between, 101 Delicious Recipes, All Gluten-Free


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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.

carrot cake with orange maple cashew cream frosting // edible perspective

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? 

carrot cake with orange maple cashew cream frosting // edible perspective

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.

carrot cake with orange maple cashew cream frosting // edible perspective

And now for the frosting.

carrot cake with orange maple cashew cream frosting // edible perspective

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!

carrot cake with orange maple cashew cream frosting // edible perspective

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. 

carrot cake with orange maple cashew cream frosting // edible perspective

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

carrot cake with orange maple cashew cream frosting // edible perspective

carrot cake with orange maple cashew cream frosting // edible perspective

Yeah…good luck with that.

carrot cake with orange maple cashew cream frosting // edible perspective

carrot cake with orange maple cashew cream frosting // edible perspective

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.

carrot cake with orange maple cashew cream frosting // edible perspective

The winners from the good bean giveaway 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! 


Reader Comments (60)

Carrot cake is my favorite; it's like the only cake where, given the chance, I am pretty sure I could devour the whole thing shamelessly. Gorgeous photos. I am so making this.
February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrace
@Grace - I feel the exact same way. I can't even tell you how much I ate! And then that frosting....oh man.
February 11, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
All I can say is WOW. Those photos make the carrot cake and cashew cream frosting look spectacular. I love all of your recipes - pinning this!!!
That is the sexiest cake I've ever seen!
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKath
I am seriously drooling over here. What a totally and utterly gorgeous cake (and I say this as someone who doesn't even like carrot cake that much!). I think you might have converted me...
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn
absolutely beautiful photos!! i have got to try that orange maple cashew cream frosting. thanks for the lovely post!
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterClaire
Gorgeous! You're such an inspiration. These photos are frame worthy. Can't wait to try it!
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKrissy @ Make it Naked
I LOVE carrot cake! lucky for my waistline, no one else in my house eats it, so I never make it. Yours looks divine!
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
This looks SO GOOD! I love cashew cream, I've used it to make creamy soups but have never tried a sweet version. I'll have to make up an excuse to make this cake :) Sounds perfect for spring!
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnna
You are killing me with this incredible cake! I kept seeing you tease it on Instagram and I'm so happy you finally posted!
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAbby @ The Frosted Vegan
Now that is one GORGEOUS cake. Beautiful photos Ashley, love the perspective & compositions.
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGabby @ Gabby's Gluten-Free
You had every right to take so many pictures! I want that cake! I love sauces made entirely with nuts! I can't believe they transform into something completely amazes me every time! I especially love turning them into alfredo sauce! SO good!
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Tadic
Literally (LITERALLY!) salivating over here. Totally worth all the hype and the wait you made us go through. :-)
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKatie
@Kathryn - I never used to be a huge carrot bake person myself. I think because they typically include nuts, raisins, and/or pineapple and I'm not a huge fan of those in cake. This was inspired by the carrot cake doughnut I made for the book a few months back. Somehow, that doughnut turned into one of my very favorites!

@Krissy - You are too kind. Thank you! Enjoy!

@Gabby - Thank you so much!

@Katie - Well, wipe up that drool + come over for a slice!
February 12, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
This looks delicious! Can't wait to make it!
Question regarding your photos? Do you choose to show primarily photos of the finished product for a reason? I think before weren't you also showing photos of the food making in process? Any reason for the switch?
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChloe
Gorgeous photos, that cake sure was working the camera! I am a huge fan of carrot cake, it may be the only cake that I like as a matter of fact. I've never tried making a sweet cashew cream or using cashews for frosting, awesome idea. (I don't like raisins or nuts in my carrot cake either and I'm allergic to pineapple!)
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHerbivore Triathlete
@Chloe - There isn't much process to show with this recipe, but I still showed more than 5 photos before the cake was completely finished. The only thing I didn't show was mixing the batter. I checked back at my last few recipe posts and they all also have at least 2-3 photos showing part of the cooking process (minus the collard/beans post). Were you talking about something more specific during the cooking process? Are you referring to step-by-step recipe posts? I have only done a handful of those and didn't really enjoy the process of documenting every single step. Hope you enjoy this cake if you give it a try!

@Herbivore - Sounds like this is the cake for you! :)
February 12, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
You are amazing! Such a talent, both in the kitchen and behind the camera. Lovely job, friend! Sending you hugs from Kansass!
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdana
Wow. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous! I can just imagine how good this cake tastes!
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJill
Such a beautiful cake!
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan Thomas
what a delightful looking cake, most certainly worthy of a ton of photos! cashew cream is all sorts of amazing, isn't it?! so versatile, and incredibly delicous.
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChrista @ Edible Balance
This looks unbelievable!!! Love the use of almond meal and flour. I am sure it lent a subtle almond flavor and amazing texture!

Your photos are incredible. I am not sure if you have already posted one, but I would love to read a post on your views, methods, etc of food photography :)
carrot cake is Stephen's favorite AND it's his birthday coming up. hmmm!
you have outdone yourself. this looks absolutely amazing ashley! I can't wait to try it!!
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterteri [a foodie stays fit]
Wow - these look amazing!! I would love to try this with an egg-replacement and see if it turns out (it should!). I'm hungry now. :)
Your photos are stunning!
@Heather - If you try using ground flax, I do not recommend making a flax-egg. Instead, mix the flax in with the dry ingredients and add more liquid to the wet. Let me know if you figure it out!
February 12, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
wow. these photos are absolutely beautiful and that looks INCREDIBLE ashley. carrot cake is my favoriteee. i think i just drooled a little..
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFelicia
Do you have any ideas on what would be good to sub for the oat flour? My first thought is quinoa flour or brown rice, but I'm afraid I don't really know what oat flour adds since I don't use it. Thanks for your beautiful blog! The icing looks AMAZING!
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
This looks amazing. I'm happy there are so many photos!
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Savory Simple
This cake looks delicious and the photos are gorgeous! Your photography continues to blow me away. Also, this carrot cake made me think that a buckwheat bake carrot cake style would be awesome (hint, hint! haha). I noticed that you used coconut sugar in this recipe. I've chosen not to use this sweetener because of sustainability issues, and was just wondering your thoughts on it? Here's an article with some information on coconut sugar if you're interested:
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
You have NO idea how much I LOVE carrot cake! And gluten free too?! Too bad if I made it it would never look that good. Save me a slice ;-).
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLauren L. @ Newest Obsession
A mouth watering gluten free carrot cake? Ashley you've done it again. Thirty seven is not a picture too many. ;) Must whip this up immediately! If I make a paleo version, would you like me to let you know?
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKelly @ Foodie Fiasco
Top cake. I make him on eastern for my family. Thanks from Germany ;-)
February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichael
What an informative post! I loved reading about almond flour and almond meal and those tips about the same are truly useful. Oh My! and this carrot cake is fabulous with the cashewnut cream! YUM!
February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPurabi Naha
Beautiful!! That cake looks amazing, great snaps!
February 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlauren@thetalkingkitchen
I love carrot cake and this look absolutely delicious! I haven't tried making a dairy free frosting with cashews yet {I've been using tofutti}, but I'm definitely going to try this recipe out!
February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRayna
@Sarah - Hmmm, normally I would say buckwheat flour but that flavor can sometimes add a bit of earthiness to a recipe. It may not come through in this with everything else going on though. You could probably mix 1/2 raw buckwheat flour and 1/2 quinoa flour for a similar outcome. Hope this helps!

@Andrea - I completely understand your concerns. I started using coconut sugar as an experiment and don't plan to use it as my sole source of sugar. I feel like the food world is really tricky. I recently heard some disheartening news about quinoa and how it's now too expensive for its growers to buy. This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface on other issues/controversies when it comes to food. I guess I always try to go with the moderation approach. I don't use a lot of crystallized sugar and don't solely use coconut sugar. I will most likely steer away from it in the future because of this information. It's always hard to stay current on things like this, so I appreciate you bringing it to my attention!

@Lauren - You MUST make this!!!

@Kelly - Yes! Definitely let me know!

@Purabi - I'm so glad you found the almond flour/meal information useful!
February 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
Wow! Lovely photos and this cake looks awesome! I love baking with almond flour/substitute flours so it's great to find new recipes involving them!
February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
Ashley, you are so right - the food world is very tricky! I also just read a few articles about quinoa recently. It's definitely hard to be knowledgeable on everything we want to! There's just so much information to learn and take in.
February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
@Andrea - Agreed! For the coconut sugar I did use, I went with Madhava. Looking at their site, it's funny because they talk about how much more sustainable it is to cultivate coconut sugar in comparison to pure cane sugar. Interesting food for thought! (pun intended) :)
February 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
okay, i am still recovering from food poisoning right now and the sight of food makes me queasy, but this....oh boy... i wanna shovel at least 1/2 the cake in my mouth and lick my fingers with the frosting. The pictures are beautiful and elegant and making me drool. I think you just cured me. <3
February 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersonia the mexigarian
@Sonia - Hope you're feeling better soon!!!
February 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
Can't wait to bake it! Think I can use brown rice flour in place of sweet rice flour?
February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSophie
@Sophie - Sweet rice flour (aka glutinous rice flour) is very different from brown rice or white rice flour. It is a fine powder that is very starchy and lends a unique texture to baked goods. You may be able to sub brown rice flour but the results would not be the same. The brand "Ener-G" is the easiest to fine (check whole foods in the GF section or online). Another common brand is Mochiko. Asian markets definitely carry sweet rice flour, as it's used in their dessert pasty, "mochi." Hope this helps!
February 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
Ashley this cake looks beyond perfect!! I love carrot cake, I need to make this asap!
February 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpurelytwins
Oh my goodness! I'm planning on giving up desserts until Easter, at which point, I am TOTALLY (veganizing and) making this cake! Stunning! Thank you!!!
February 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrose
Ashley, I checked out their website as well and that IS interesting! Thanks for sharing that with me/us!
February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
Thanks, Ashley! I plan to try this recipe once I am done traveling for work. I love your photos and am always interested in how different bloggers choose to document their work. Looking forward to the cookbook!
February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChloe
I think I just found this year's birthday cake, this looks amazing!
February 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLea

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