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Quinoa Breakfast Cake Recipe

Gluten free quinoa breakfast cake recipe with carrots and raisins
Tender and moist quinoa breakfast cake- really delicious.

There are some days [okay, I confess!] I eat a brownie for breakfast. And not just a brownie. A tender, dark chocolaty coconut and brown sugar laced delectable gluten-free blondie style brownie. A brownie to delight in. A brownie to savor. A brownie even gluten-eaters would covet. And I lick my fingers. Is it a nutritious choice? Um, probably not.

Except as food for the soul.

And sometimes, let’s face it. The soul needs chocolate. For breakfast. But this morning there was a trendy new box of quinoa flakes perched on the kitchen counter. And a fresh bag of plump seedless raisins nearby. I leaned against the counter's edge and sipped my morning cup of English Breakfast tea. I started daydreaming about oatmeal cookies. Then carrot cake. Carrot raisin cookies. Molasses and cinnamon. I knew what I had to do. I had to bake.

Quinoa was calling to me.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a fab ancient faux grain (it's actually a fruit seed) that is high in protein and naturally gluten-free, and lucky for cereal lovers, turns out it's a satisfying hot cereal choice, too.

Quinoa cereal flakes approximate quick-oats-style oatmeal in size and texture. The taste is different, though. More nutty. Kinda toasty. A tad unfamiliar. And it takes some getting used to. Bland as oatmeal, it is not. It has a definite personality.

Dress it up with maple syrup, chopped nuts, raisins or dried cherries. A sprinkle of cinnamon and brown sugar. You name it. Quinoa can handle it.

And I am here to tell you- the flakes are a tasty little number for baking. Different, yes. But once you nibble a second bite, and a third, and a fourth, you start thinking, Hey. This is good stuff! You break off a warm piece and ferry it across the saltillo tile floor to your script-typing husband and offer it with a smile.

You urge, Try this.

And he murmurs, Hmmm.

And you reassure him with, The second bite is better, and he interrupts and says, No, this is excellent. It’s different, but it’s good. Very good.

Yup. This quinoa-loving goddess couldn't agree more.

Karina's gluten-free quinoa breakfast cake recipe
Gluten-free quinoa breakfast cake. Tender and sweet.

Quinoa Breakfast Cake Recipe

This cake is a hybrid of tastes and textures. It resembles an oatmeal cake at first, until your tongue discovers the carrot and coconut, and finishes with a juicy raisin. It’s then you think, I just need another bite to figure this out. And you chew. And your taste buds get very happy.


1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup almond meal flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup packed organic light brown sugar
2 large organic free-range eggs- or Ener-G egg substitute
1/2 cup light olive oil, safflower or grapeseed oil
1/4 cup sorghum molasses or raw organic agave
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup grated carrots [I processed four slender carrots in the food processor]
1/2 cup grated sweetened coconut
1/2 heaping cup juicy seedless raisins


Line a 10x13-inch baking pan with greased parchment or foil. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours and the dry ingredients. Add in the egg (or egg substitute), oil, molasses, vanilla, orange juice; beat to combine.

Stir in the carrots, coconut and raisins by hand.

Preheat your oven to 350ºF. and allow the cake batter to rest in the bowl until the oven is pre-heated.

Pour the batter into the prepared 10x13-inch baking pan and spread evenly. Place the pan into the center of the oven and bake until the center is fairly firm to touch and a wooden pick inserted into the center emerges clean, about 25 to 35 minutes.

Please keep an eye on the cake and follow your own experience for baking bars and sheet cakes in your climate (dry or humid) and altitude.

Cool the cake on a wire rack. This is a very tender cake, so if you cut it when it is still warm it will fall apart a bit. Just be warned. Cooling helps the slicing aspect.

Cut into 16 pieces, wrap in foil, bag, and freeze for future breakfast snacks. Yay.

Recipe Source:

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Karina's Notes:

Look for quinoa flakes in the hot cereal section of your local market.
To replace the nut flour, try using GF millet flour or certified gluten-free oat flour.


  1. As usual, this recipe looks fabulous! I have a bunch of quinoa flakes from when they were on sale that need to be used. I would like to hear about your other quinoa, quinoa flour, and quinoa flake creations too!

    I'm curious as to when you use baking soda versus baking powder - usually, I think you use both but here you only use soda.

    Also, I've never seen sorghum syrup/molasses here - which of the following do you think would make the best substitute: blackstrap molasses (I kind of like this idea since it isn't as sweet and is nutrient-rich), regular molasses, honey, or agave nectar?

    Take care!,

  2. Oh my, this looks good!!! Must go buy sorghum and bake this immediately... don't think I can wait for breakfast...

  3. Karina, I do believe this breakfast cake is the most decadent looking thing I've seen here in a while. I love quinoa, but I've not yet noticed the flakes at my market. I'll keep an eye out for them, because this cake will be the next treat I bake!

  4. I am so glad you admitted to having brownies for breakfast. When I made some the other day, I had to eat them with my morning tea. So good.

    This looks great. I have to try this...I have not seen quinoa flakes, but then again I didn't know they existed.Something sweet in teh morning is lovely.

    One idea...we need to figure out a way to get some chocolate in there!! ;)

  5. I am a great fan of quinoa and usually have a tub of cooked quinoa in the fridge that can be turned to whatever use I feel like in the week.

    Are quinoa flakes something different to the quinoa seeds I would normally buy?

  6. Hi ~M!

    I'm definitely going to be using more quinoa in recipes - in all forms. Stay tuned. :-)

    As for the baking soda vs. baking powder question... Both are used to leaven. Baking soda requires an acidic ingredient for it to work as leavening. Buttermilk, lemon juice and molasses in a recipe will be enough acid to provoke the baking soda.

    That's one reason I suggest to let the batter rest in the bowl while you pre-heat the oven; this gives the batter a little time to do its rising thing.

    Baking powder actually contains baking soda in its formula, with an acidic or chemical added to provoke the leavening action. It's a bit faster "rise" and is a good choice in recipes without an acid.

    As for the molasses - any will work according to your preference. I just happen to have a new jar of sorghum molasses on hand.


    Hi Jess!

    I just had a piece for breakfast. It was yummy the next day [just wrapped and put in the fridge - as an experiment]. Still moist and tasty.

    Heya ATxVegn!

    I think you'll love it. And I'd be interested to hear what you use for the eggs - and how it effects the recipe.

    Hi Slacker Mom!

    You and Steve. ;-) He said to me, Now if you could only add chocolate chips to the recipe...

    Hi Rob!

    Good question. Yes, flakes are different. They are processed to cook instantly as a hot cereal. You can find them in the cereal section near oatmeal and hot rice cereal boxes.


  7. My tummy is getting wumbly reading about this. I'm so glad you found a good way to help me use up this bag of quinoa I have in my cupboard.


  8. Hi Kathy!

    It is quite yummy - like a bran muffin, I just realised. ;-)

    I used the flakes, not the whole grains, just to be clear.


  9. looks great!

    i love your blog btw!

    i added you to my links

  10. yum yum yum!

    I've posted a couple of gluten-free recipes on my newest weblog. These are tried (and adored) recipes from when my gluten-free guests were here last night.
    Once the intellectual challenge itself is overcome, gluten free + vegan = tasty.

  11. Thanks, Easy to Digest and Geographical Vegan!



  12. Ok now this looks interesting enough to try....I've had Quinoa once and never thought about it again, but this is something worth getting a new box for!

  13. Hi Lisa!

    Cool. These are quinoa flakes - the par-cooked flakes used for hot cereal.

    They are high in fiber - like bran muffins...


  14. Anonymous20:59

    Im allergic to nuts- do you have a substitute flour that you can use to almond flour? Thank you so much, and I hope you have a great day...

  15. Hi Anon~

    I'd imagine you could substitute brown rice flour; this would change the texture a bit [it would lighten it], but it should work. You could also sub half brown rice flour and half coconut flour [for the 3/4 cup almond]. That might be yummy!

    Stop back and let us know what you sub, and how it turns out.



  16. I'm just devoring this fabulous cake, yum! I modified it a bit: used linseed jelly instead of egg whites (because of food allergy)and brown rice flour instead of sorghum flour. I did'nt add sorghum molasses and vanilla flavour, either (these products aren't available in my country) but the cake is really tasty also this way!

  17. Rick21:41

    Hi, Karina. You mentioned that this recipe is like bran muffins. Have you ever actually made it as muffins? If so, what changes would you recommend? Thanks!

  18. Hey Noemi! Great! I'm glad you liked it!

    Hi Rick,

    Glancing over the recipe I don't see anything you'd have to change. I'd just spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees F for anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes- depending upon your oven and altitude.

    If you've baked muffins before, that will give you a sense of how long muffins take to bake- in your oven.

    Good luck- and please drop by to let us know how they turned out- if they're a big success, I'll add your thoughts to the recipe above.

    Thanks! ;)


  19. Hi Karina,

    I recently have been making every muffin imaginable and converting non-muffin recipes like this one into muffins (next up: falafel muffins based on the recipe from Authentic Foods). Muffins are so portable, they don't crumble as much, and are already in appropriate serving sizes which is helpful for rationing :) I made this recipe the same except I used blackstrap molasses (very rich source of calcium, iron, and other nutrients) and canola oil instead of safflower. I used a silicone normal-sized muffin pan and made 12 large muffins. They were so moist, and delicious. So far, this is my favorite muffin and it's probably the healthiest and most nutritious. I don't feel bad about eating this muffin for breakfast since it truly keeps me full until lunch. I'm so sorry that you can't have them anymore due to the almond meal and other off-limit ingredients. I baked the muffin for 25 minutes, and then checked on it every 5 minutes thereafter - it probably baked between 30-35 minutes at 350ºF total. Next time, I plan on substituting chopped dates or whole dried cranberries for the raisins to show Corey that this muffin can be his number one fav too! I may try using other ground nuts instead too.

    Also, this recipe encouraged me to use the grating blade on my Cuisinart for the first time to grate leftover organic baby carrots. I accidentally ground too many though, so I removed the necessary amount for the muffins and added a farmer's market apple and a teeny bit of olive oil and lemon juice --> super tasty!

    I'm so glad to hear that you're feeling better! Good luck and have fun in CA.
    Take care,

  20. Anonymous13:38

    This looks fantastic. I was wondering if you knew if it was yeast free? It appears to be but I'm ignorant about baking sodas and powders... do you happen to know if these are yeasty?

    Thanks for a great site!
    Leigh (the fructose intolerant, yeast-sensitive, ovo-lacto vegetarian! oy!)

  21. Hey Leigh- the fructose intolerant, yeast-sensitive, ovo-lacto vegetarian,

    Yeast occurs in fermentation- so no baker's yeast, vinegar, molasses, wine, dried fruit, or beer for you. I'd check on the status of vanilla extract as well.

    And this recipe has orange juice- high in fructose.


    You'd need to replace the juice with a liquid you can do- milk?

    The molasses with- um- can you do maple syrup? If not, try plain yogurt.

    Brown sugar may be off limits for you- due to the molasses in it. I wonder what sweetener is safe for you---? Is straight cane sugar okay?

    The baking powder should be fine- but you should double check on it.

    And the vanilla must be a non-alcohol based vanilla, for you. Look for one in glycerin. Or- try a vanilla powder.

    Health food store trip!


    Let me know how the subs work out for you.


  22. Anonymous16:24

    Made this cake this morning and really enjoyed. Subbed 1C honey for the sweetner, used unsweetened coconut flakes, and sprinkled a bit of sugar on top for decoration. Very yummy -- tastes similar to a carrot cake. Might add some walnuts next time. Thanks for a great recipe!

  23. Hey Anon! Glad it worked for you. Nuts would be a delicious addition- yes! Go for it.



  24. Hey Karina, I'm a long time admirer of your blog and amazing recipes :) I've been dying to try out this recipe, but can't have any refined/cane/etc sugar. Fruit I can do, in small amounts, so I'm replacing the molasses with applesauce, but I'm wondering if I can just cut out the brown sugar without any consequences to the consistency of the cake? would you recommend replacing the sugar with another flour, or something....granular (for lack of a better description)?

    Many thanks, for this and all the inspiration,
    Glynis, the hypoglycemic gluten- and dairy-sensitive girl from Toronto :)

  25. Hi Glynis!

    Thanks for your kind words. As for the recipe subs...

    I've never made it any other way- so. Hmmm.

    Sub the orange juice with unsweetened rice milk.

    Sugar does add structure, so you might try adding some flour (not more quinoa- that would be way too heavy).

    Maybe add some chopped nuts. Nuts are good for hypoglycemia.

    Can you do date or maple sugar?

    Or how about raisins? You could process 1/2 cup of raisins with a mounded 1/2 cup of walnuts or pecans into a coarse meal.

    How about adding 1/2 cup finely processed carrots? And/or unsweetened coconut processed into crumbs?

    You need to get enough volume for the pan, and not be too *wet* with the batter.

    It's going to be an experiment- but I bet it will be delicious.

    Let me know! :)


  26. Well, I did a combination of your suggestions with an idea of my own, and success!! I used a half cup of raisins combined with a quarter of a cup of walnuts, ground into a fine meal together, and then added a quarter cup of hemp seeds (which already nice and tiny).

    I don't think I ended up with the same consistency AT ALL (when I read the directions, "pour batter into pan" I had a good laugh, as the batter needed to be smooshed down with a spoon to fill the pan properly), but hot damn, did it ever taste good!! I can't believe I managed to get something that yummy without using any REAL sugar at all! :)

    I also added a bit of apple butter to sweeten it a little, and used more like 1/3 cup of unsweetened soy milk.

    Yum yum yum. Thanks for the advice, and the amazing recipe!!

  27. That's fabulous! I'm so glad it worked out. One thing I've learned with all my food restrictions is that batters and doughs are not often as we expect them to be (or behave)- and it's best to let go of expectations and experiment.

    I'm happy this one worked!



  28. This is an amazing recipe!! I made it for breakfast for myself and my three year old, and we both devoured it!! Thank you so much for the recipe!! It is truly an inspiration!! I added a little powdered sugar/lime juice glaze on top, just for some added sweetness. :D

  29. Lime glaze sounds perfect for this cake! YUM.



  30. Anonymous18:04

    I haven't tried your recipe yet but was noticing some of the comments of people who can't have fructose or sugar -- like me.

    I am experimenting in cooking with raw agave nectar. It is sweeter than sugar and low glycemic and my favorite sweetener. Generally you would use less agave than sugar - they say to use about 1/3 the amount.

    It is the consistency of honey so I am not sure what substituting it for sugar would do to the texture of your recipe.

    I will be playing with this.

    Thanks for offering this site.

  31. so...I don't have quinoa flakes, but the whole grain. Can I add cooked quinoa to this recipe instead of the flakes?

  32. Anon- Thanks for the info on subbing agave here. I have recently been experimenting with agave in baking; and started having some symptoms. Turns out agave is high in fructose! So I am now researching it. I'm not happy about it. But I want to feel my best! Sigh.

    Erin- I don't think the texture of cooked quinoa would be very palatable in this cake. The flakes are soft, like cooked oatmeal; and whole quinoa is round and firm.

    If you do go ahead and try it- let me know how you make out... But. It might be worth it to wait and find the quinoa flakes (in the hot cereal grocery aisle).


  33. Anonymous18:27

    I finally had a chance to make this today and it was delicious! I used 1 heaping tbsp arrowroot powder for each egg, unsulphered blackstrap molasses. Really yummy and I don't feel too guilty eating it ( OK maybe a little because of the sugar). I want to thank you for posting your recipes with substitutions as I have a plethora of food sensitivities gluten, egg, corn, honey, potato, tomato, preservatives, flax). Your recipes always work out for me and are fantastic. Your site is pretty much my go to site for recipes. I have learned so much from you!! Thanks again! Kelley

  34. Hi Kelley- Yay! So glad. I have multiple allergies to- flax included. Thanks for sharing your sub on the egg replacer/eggs. I also just learned that you can use 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 tablespoon arrowroot instead of the Ener-G. I would add to that 3 tablespoons liquid.

    Take care- and hope to see you again!


  35. Hi Karina -
    I have some Bob's Red Mill GF Hot Cereal on hand that I'm looking for alternative uses for because I'm afraid I don't really like it as hot cereal. Do you think it would work as a replacement for the quinoa flakes?

  36. Hi Jessie- I think it might work...I'd start with a smaller amount- maybe 3/4 to 1 cup- and make up the difference with either sorghum, buckwheat or millet flour. My concern is that the texture will be gummy.

    If you do try it- stop back and let us know what you tried.


  37. I subbed the juice with hazelnut milk and the 1 cup of sugar with 1/4 cup xylitol, 1/4 cup date sugar and 1/2 cup flaxseed meal... Fabulous!

  38. I subbed the juice with hazelnut milk and the 1 cup of sugar with 1/4 cup xylitol, 1/4 cup date sugar and 1/2 cup flaxseed meal... Fabulous!

  39. I made your quinoa breakfast cake and it was scrumptious. I substituted zucchini, raisins and pecans for the stir in ingredients.

  40. I made this with cooked quinoa because I didn't have any flakes. Changed up the flour a bit, skipped the juice, and added flax seed, pecans and some hemp milk to make a very stiff batter. It still cooked up so sweet and delicious. I served it warm with coconut milk over the top!
    Thanks, Karina :)

  41. Anonymous16:26

    I made this today & it was fantastic! I omitted the raisins since I don't like them (unless their in raising bran!) & substituted maple syrup for the molasses. I put some butter on the piece I had & it melted in my mouth. I plan on making this for my mom when we se her next since she has celiac disease so she can see that it is possible to make GOOD GF breads & cakes. She refuses to believe it's possible & subsides solely on chicken & vegetables. I am so glad I found you, Karina!

  42. thats really nice dish and I hope to have some.

  43. Anonymous13:13

    Made it last night! It's delicious. Like a combo of zucchini bread, carrot cake, and breakfast bread. Love it.

  44. Karina, your recipes have saved me from a very limited diet of no gluten/dairy/cane sugar/peanuts, and opened up a whole new world of food creativiy. My husband is a g/f d/f vegetarian, and is very impressed with my new found Mexican food obsession! Your chili recipies are on high rotation here in our suburban Melbourne home.

    As for this cake, loved it! I just baked another version today, a mix of a few of your recipes. I tweaked it a little substituting the carrot/coconut/raisins/orange juice/sugar for a 1/2 cup of raw cacao powder, 1/2 a cup of cacao nibs, 3 mashed bananas, 1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries, 1/2 cup honey and a 20ml shot of organic fair trade espresso.

    The result was as tender and moist as your original, and satisfied my chocolate craving whithout being too sweet, perfect with our morning coffee & blog reading session.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful insight into living with food intolerances, it's been a facinating journey reading through all your posts. I'm so glad to have found your blog! :)

  45. I just made this with a couple of changes. I used unsweetened coconut, since that's what I had, and I skipped the cinnamon in favor of about 4 teaspoons of dehydrated, powdered whole mandarin oranges. OMG, the batter tasted good enough to eat. The citrus sings!

  46. Just made these as muffins and they were wonderful. Doubled the raison, added percans and substituted butter for the oil. Love your site.

  47. Do you think this recipe would work if I subbed pumpkin for the carrots? I've noticed a few comments on here about subbing the orange juice for milk, do you think it would work the same with the milk and pumpkin or possibly using coffee instead? Also, if I used less sugar do you think it would still work? Thanks!

  48. Thanks again, all- for your enthusiastic comments. xox

    As for subbing the carrot... Honestly, I can't say for sure. Carrots are not a puree, like pumpkin, so it would not be a one-to-one sub. I've only made this cake with carrots. Less sugar might work if you play with the amounts of dry-to-liquid. I'd guess no on the coffee- but- that's me. I don't think I'd like coffee with carrots/pumpkin.

    Take care,

  49. Karina,

    I wanted to share the alterations I made and let you know how it turned out.

    -I first subbed the quinoa flakes for oats (I didn't have the quinoa flakes).

    -Along with the cinnamon I added, I think, about 1.5-2 teaspoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice

    -I used 1/2 cup of brown sugar

    -I used honey instead of sorghum molasses and probably added an extra teaspoon or so.

    -I subbed the orange juice with milk.

    -I used a little less than a cup of pumpkin in place of the carrots, and added an extra teaspoon of flour (your choice on which one to add extra of).

    -I added chocolate chips.

    It turned out really well, it wasn't too moist and it tastes delicious. I have some friends who are non gf and they loved it. I think I baked it for 30 minutes or so, but that is dependent on your oven. It is definitely like a cake and the only thing I noticed is that it is a little bit crumbly. It may be crumbly because it was still slightly warm when I cut it up.

  50. Anonymous18:14

    These sound so delicious... But my son is severely allergic nuts, including coconut. Any thoughts on what to use in place of the shredded coconut?

  51. Jeni- Thanks for sharing your version with oatmeal. Sounds delicious!

    Anon- It's only a half cup- so you can add anything you like- chopped dried fruit, shredded zucchini, or shredded apple.

    Hope that helps! xox


  52. Hi Karina,

    Made this last night. My husband loves it, and he's not a fan of gluten-free. It's too sweet for my tastes though. Can it be made substituting applesauce for 1/2 of the sugar and unsweetened coconut? Very filling, which is great!

  53. Anonymous17:37

    OMG! I made your recipe with my restraints (no simple sugars), and it was FAB! Everyone loved it, even the gluten eaters.

    Quinoa flakes will be staples from here on out.

    Thanks for such a great blog, and always great recipes!

  54. Kate22:11

    Hi Karina!

    This sounds great and I'd really like to try the recipe out. My one problem is that I can't digest either coconut or raisins (I still keenly feel the loss of these amazing foods). Do you have any suggestions for a replacement? Could I just increase the carrot?

    Thanks for all your brilliant recipes! :)

  55. I've made this twice. I used millet flour as I had it on hand. It is a great recipe

  56. I made these as muffins. They are so good and will be traveling with me to Chicago this weekend. I have also made five other of your recipes, and all turned out great! Thanks, Karina for all your hard work developing these awesome recipes! When I found out that I had alot of food intolerances, I felt overwhelmed. But finding your site has made all the difference in the world. I would have responded sooner, but my joints were so inflamed I couldn't type. But now I am able!

  57. I just made this today. Absolutely delicious. I love the texture of the quinoa flakes. Am looking forward to breakfast tomorrow morning.