Carrot, apple and walnut cake with cream cheese frosting & praline (shhh…it’s gluten free too!)

So here it is folks, Part Two of my awesomely fun collaboration with Katey from Little Bit Bakery (read more about Part One if you missed it). I feel so privileged to be able to share this recipe with you for Katey’s drool-worthy gluten free carrot cake – please do not underestimate the enormity of this momentous moment…this cake is Katey’s best seller and for good reason. Lusciously moist cake, which is light and practically falls apart in your mouth, not-too-sweet cream cheese icing adorned with crunchy sweet treats of walnut praline, this cake is guaranteed to impress even the toughest of critics. Perfect for any occasion (and Katey tells me she makes them for every possible occasion) – from birthdays to weddings and no-real-reason except I want to eat cake kind of occasion, this beauty is on top of her order list for good reason.

But our creative collaboration wasn’t just an excuse to eat good food, we also wanted to learn from one another and share some tips and tricks we have built up over the years. Lucky for us, this talented baker was only too happy to share some of her practical know-how.

While I know the basics of baking, I often experience the same types of baking dilemmas, whether its the cake rising unevenly (or not at all) or struggling to execute piping that doesn’t look like I handed over control to a three year old. I needed some tips and thankfully Katey was only too happy to do a “watch and learn” step by step kind of tutorial with me. Plus she let me lick the beater and test the praline for poison….important jobs you know.

Katey’s tips for the perfect bake:

  • When you’re baking a cake (or cooking anything in your oven really), allow your oven to get to temperature and sit at temperature for an hour before baking your cake. This allows the heat to spread, ensuring an evenly heated oven and a better baking result.
  • Need to butter/oil your cake tin? Instead of going around the tin in a single circular motion, start from the base and drag your butter/oil upwards, this gives your cake batter direction when it rises while cooking and will result in a more even rise.
  • Always sift your flour with your baking soda or bicarb soda. This helps to evenly distribute your dry ingredients and results in a more even rise – if the active rising agents are distributed evenly, it makes sense that the cake will rise evenly.
  • Made some kick-ass praline and found some rock hard bits stuck in your pan? You could leave to soak overnight, or you can cover with some bicarb soda and warm water which will bubble and fizz that hard praline right off.
  • Using room temperature eggs in your recipe will help them better incorporate into the rest of the ingredients.
  • Don’t try and substitute plain flour into this recipe – it changes the texture of the cake and doesn’t give you the goodness you could get with gluten free flour!
  • Shock your cakes by putting them in the freezer for a bit; it arrests the cooking process and gives you a firmer outer layer to work with – essential if you are frosting the whole thing…just don’t leave them in there long enough to go solid!
  • Don’t soften your butter by putting it in the microwave. If you must, do it in 10 second bursts until its rigid but able to leave a finger imprint.

Serve 10 – 12 (generous slices, or more people if you go a little of the slimmer side)

Katey amazing carrot, apple and walnut cake with cream cheese frosting & praline

Katey’s amazing carrot, apple and walnut cake with cream cheese frosting & praline

The list:

4 eggs
300ml vegetable oil
1 Tbs vanilla extract
300gm castor sugar
300gm gluten free plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarb soda
4 tsp cinnamon
4 large carrots, grated
1 green apple, grated
80gm walnuts, chopped finely

Frosting
350gm gluten free icing sugar
60gm butter, softened
250gm light cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract

Praline
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup sugar

The method:

  1. Preheat oven to 165°C, grease and line 2 x 20cm spring form baking pans.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar until thick and sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl sieve the gluten free flour, baking powder, bicarb and cinnamon. Add the carrot, apple and walnuts and combine until coated with flour. Add the egg mixture and mix until it’s just come together. It’s quite a sloshy mixture, but don’t stress about that.
  4. Pour into your pans and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, depending on your oven. Ours only took 25 minutes! Just keep an eye on it and check by inserting a skewer into the centre, if it comes out relatively clean then it’s done. When cooked, remove from the oven and set aside for around 15 minutes. Place in the freezer until cooled completely.
  5. Frosting: make your cream cheese frosting by beating the cream cheese with the butter until its combined. Sift your icing sugar and add in thirds. When it’s smooth, transfer to the fridge to harden slightly before you try to assemble it.
  6. Praline: prepare a baking tray with baking paper and scatter with some walnuts.
  7. Make a dry caramel by melting sugar in a pan. When it’s dark and there are no granules of sugar visible, pour the sugar over the walnuts. Once hard, you can smash or chop this how you like it for presentation. We cut ours up into small chunks and scattered in between the layers of cake and them used some on top for decoration.
  8. To assemble, pipe (or spread) a layer of icing onto the base layer of the cake and sprinkle with some small chunks of praline. Then carefully place second cake on top and repeat piping (spreading) process and arrange with praline and flowers.

*Note: Katey and I decorated our cake with rosemary flowers, but you can use any delicate edible flower, or just the praline if you don’t have access to flowers.

You can find more of Katey’s cake creations over at her Instagram @littlebitbakery

Double layers = double goodness

Double layers = double goodness

The textures in this cake work so well together - moist cake, soft buttery icing and crunchy surprises of praline

The textures in this cake work so well together – moist cake, soft buttery icing and crunchy surprises of praline

Gluten free goodness

Gluten free goodness fit for a Queen (…or you)

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