(Carrot) Cake or Cupcakes?


Why pick when you can have both?

Okay, maybe I wouldn’t recommend eating both in one sitting, but what I do recommend is this delightful carrot cake recipe that can be made into a cake or cupcakes. Or both, if the need presents itself.

You see, here at YWAM Turner Valley, we have lots of allergies. Almost half the base is lactose-intolerant. We have three gluten-free gals, and one of those GF friends is egg-free too. As a result, I spend a lot of time looking up vegan and gluten-free recipes. Fortunately, I was only making this carrot cake for dairy-free folk, so I didn’t have to wrestle with weird flours or get creative with black beans (I actually made black bean brownies the other week and they were delicious…gluten free, egg-free, and dairy free. Easy.). So the cake pictured on the left is the regular version, with a gloriously dairy-filled frosting, and the cupcakes on the right are dairy-less, topped with “coconut whipped cream.” What makes the cake so flexible, however, is that it doesn’t have any dairy in it itself. Just top it to accommodate your guests, or your own dietary needs.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese-Whipped Cream Frosting



  • 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup slivered almonds (use nuts of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)

Cream Cheese-Whipped Cream Frosting

  • one block cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1-1/2 cups whipping cream
  • icing sugar, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan, or two 9-inch round cake pans. I made this cake for a birthday, so I went the layer cake route.
  2. Mix flour, nuts, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into medium mixing bowl. Stir well. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, sugars, applesauce and vanilla. Stir in carrots and raisins, if using. Add wet/carrot mixture to flour mixture and stir with spatula until blended (do not over mix).
  3. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 25 minutes if using round pans, or 30 to 35 minutes in the 13×9 inch pan, or until tester comes out clean. Cool for at least 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely before frosting (can be made the day before).
  4. Beat whipping cream until it becomes, well, whipped cream. Fold in cream cheese and icing sugar. Add the icing sugar gradually, testing as you go. I’m not a fan of overly “cheesy” frostings, but your tastes may be different. An electric mixer really helps the mixture to keep a frosting-like consistency. The whipping cream in the frosting makes it light and fluffy, rather than the typically heavy-tasting cream cheese frostings out there.
  5. Spread frosting over cake. If making a layer cake, don’t be stingy on the frosting in between the layers, as I was – you’ll have more than enough to cover the rest of the cake. Decorate your cake by sprinkling with nuts, if desired. I made a cinnamon star by using a star hole-punch: I punched a star in a piece of paper, and then taped two pieces of paper together, so the whole cake would be protected from the cinnamon, except for the star part. I lay the papers on the cake with the star in the middle, and used a shaker to sprinkle cinnamon over the star. I then carefully removed the paper.

Sadly, I am in the lactose-intolerant club, so I passed on the cake and went for a cupcake (which were made from the exact same recipe as the cake recipe). Fortunately, coconut “whipped cream” is just as good – in fact, some would say it is even better than cream cheese icing! And it’s super easy.

Coconut “Whipped Cream”

  1. Purchase a can of coconut milk. Make sure it is full-fat. I used the brand Thai Express, and it worked very well.
  2. Put the can in the fridge overnight.
  3. Take the can out of the fridge and open. At the top of the can there is solid coconut “cream” – the bottom of the can will be filled with coconut “water.” Do not mix, but carefully scoop the “cream” into a bowl.
  4. Add a bit of icing sugar, and whip, just as you would whipping cream. If you find the consistency too thick, just add a bit of the coconut “water” from the bottom of the can.
  5. Spread on cupcakes or cake!

Layer cake will easily serve 12 people. Recipe adapted from www.recipe.com (I used more applesauce and less oil than the original recipe calls for; used almonds, as it was what I had on hand; and added raisins, because they’re yummy).


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