Recipe: Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Cheat’s Caramel Sauce

I’ve been perfecting my carrot cake recipe for many years, and although it can feel like a chore to make, it’s one of the most satisfying to eat, so when I was asked to make a gluten-free version, I didn’t want to move too far away from my original recipe. Even if you’re not a gluten free fan, this cake tastes rich and luscious and doesn’t skimp on flavour, so don’t be put off!

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Similarly, do not attempt to simply swap the gluten-free flour for regular plain flour. Gluten-free flour is much drier, so I’ve used less of it here to create a more moist and less crumbly texture, as well as xanthan gum, which acts as a binding agent in place of the natural glutens in regular flour.

I’ve paired this carrot cake with classic cream cheese frosting, but added a little indulgence by drizzling the whole lot in a super easy cheat’s caramel sauce. It might seem like a lot of ingredients and hassle, but trust me, the finished product will score you major brownie points!

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GF Carrot Cake with Cheat’s Caramel Sauce

Relatively Easy | Cook: 30-40 minutes, plus cooling | Serves 12


For the cake:

300ml sunflower oil

100g light brown soft sugar

150g dark brown soft sugar

4 large eggs

4 tbsp vanilla extract

300g grated carrot

50g ground almonds

50g pecan nuts, roughly chopped, plus extra to decorate

150ml orange juice (about 2 oranges)

2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

300g GF flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp xanthan gum

For the cream cheese icing:

250g butter, softened

250g icing sugar

250g full fat soft cheese

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the caramel sauce:

100g soft toffees (like Wether’s Original Chewy Toffees)

75ml double cream

Pinch of salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 fan, grease and line a 23cm spring-form cake tin.
  2. Beat the sugar in a large mixing bowl with the oil, then add the eggs and beat again until smooth and beginning to thicken.
  3. Add the vanilla, ground almonds, pecans, orange juice and carrots and stir until well combined.
  4. Sift in the flour along with the spices, baking powder and xanthan gum. Fold in until fully combined.
  5. Pour into the tin and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer placed in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then remove from the tin and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack.
  6. While the cake cools, make your icing. Cream together the softened butter with the icing sugar until smooth, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine. Add the cream cheese and stir gently to combine – do not overwork it or it will go runny. Place in the fridge until you’re ready to ice the cake.
  7. Place the cake on a cake board (I tend to place the cake upside-down, so I have a nice flat surface on top) and use a serrated knife to gently cut the cake in half through the middle. Use half of the cream cheese icing to cover top and sides of the bottom half, smoothing with a palette knife or spatula as you go, then place the second half on top and cover with the remaining icing. Put the cake in the fridge to firm up and cool.
  8. While the cake is cooling, make your cheat’s caramel sauce. Place the toffees, the double cream and a pinch of salt in a saucepan over a medium-low heat, stirring regularly until the toffees have melted and you have a smooth sauce. Leave to cool for five minutes.
  9. Take the cake out of the fridge and using a dessert spoon, carefully drizzle spoonful’s of the caramel sauce along the edges of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Use the remainder of the sauce to fill in the top of the cake and place back in the fridge to set. When you’re ready to serve, take the cake out and decorate it with the leftover chopped pecans, slice it up and watch it disappear!

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Yue Xuan says:

    that looks great! i love baking too but have never tried carrot cake in my whole life before!

    1. It’s definitely worth the effort, one of my favourite cakes!

  2. cookiesnchem says:

    Great use of ground almonds here! Carrot cake is one of my favourites, and your version looks tasty – even though I’m not gluten-free!! The caramel really takes this over the top. I want some!

    1. I’m not usually gluten free either so it was an interesting experiment for me! It turned out much better than I expected!

      1. cookiesnchem says:

        Thanks for sharing!

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