Sweet layers of spiced and walnut studded vegan carrot cake are slathered with rich cashew cream cheese frosting to make this decadent treat! Oh, and a secret ingredient makes this cake extra moist. Spoiler: it’s pineapple!
Well, I’ve officially accepted that spring is here. I’m dealing with it in the way I deal with most of my non-favorite things: making food to commemorate the occasion.
It seems carrot cake is spring food, which is kind of weird because carrots are available year round and they keep pretty well making them ideal for winter. But, you bunnies, Easter, carrots…I guess it all makes sense. In any event, the internet is exploding with carrot cake recipes lately. It’s about time I shared my own vegan version!
I’m actually making this one for my family. I’m hosting Easter brunch this year, and this carrot cake is my dessert. Oh, and it’s a perfect dessert for Easter dinner too (or lunch, or any meal that happens not on Easter). But there’s something really special about having dessert after your breakfast, which is essentially what brunch is, right?
How to Make Vegan Carrot Cake
So! About the process of making this vegan carrot cake! The cake itself is relatively simple, and pretty close to your typical non-vegan carrot cake, sans the eggs. We’re using flax eggs instead here.
Also: pineapple. I had a discussion with my mom about what makes a good carrot cake, and her advice was to include pineapple. And I think it made a big difference. Including pineapple gives you a nice moist cake and allows you to use slightly less sugar than you might otherwise.
The batter comes together with a mixing bowl and a spoon. No electric mixer required! You’ve got to love that. :)
I made a double layer cake because a layer of frosting in the middle makes the cake! Could you do this in a sheet pan? I’m sure you could, but unfortunately I haven’t tested the recipe that way, so I can’t advise you on the bake time or temperature. If anyone gives that a try, please let me know how it works!
How to Make Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting
While the cake bakes/cools, you whip up a super easy cashew cream cheese frosting. Make sure to soak your cashews in advance, and make sure they’re raw. Once that’s covered all you need to do is blend them up with a few other ingredients.
When the cake is cool, frost and stack the layers. I topped mine with some chopped walnuts and cinnamon.
Tips for Making an Amazing Vegan Carrot Cake…
- Because this cake is egg-free, it’s a bit more delicate than traditional carrot cake. You can see from the photos that I was able to cut a nice slice without anything breaking, and I had to move the entire cake around a bunch of times to take the pics. So it will hold up, but be little extra careful when handling and cutting it.
- This recipe does not call for raisins, just because there’s already so much going on. If you’re a big fan though, feel free to include them or use them in place of the nuts.
- I used fresh pineapple for my cake, but canned works too. Stick it in the blender and pulse until its blended with just a few chunks. You could also get away with canned crushed pineapple.
- Be patient when blending the cream cheese frosting. It can take a few minutes, particularly if you’re not using a high-powered blending device. If it doesn’t seem to be getting smooth, stop the food processor and let it sit for 10 minutes, then blend it again.
Vegan Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting
Sweet layers of spiced and walnut studded vegan carrot cake are slathered with rich cashew cream cheese frosting to make this decadent treat! Oh, and a secret ingredient makes this cake extra moist. Spoiler: it's pineapple!
For the Vegan Carrot Cake
- 3/4 cup canola oil (or another oil that's suitable for baking)
- 3/4 cup crushed or blended pineapple, drained (see notes)
- 1/2 cup unflavored non-dairy milk
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or sub all-purpose)
- 3/4 cup organic granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup organic granulated brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
For the Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water 4-8 hours and drained
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Begin by making the cake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Oil and line the bottoms of 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir together the oil, milk, pineapple, flaxseed and vanilla. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir the flour, sugars, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
Add the wet mixture to the dry, and stir just until blended, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the carrots and walnuts.
Distribute the batter among the two prepared pans, smoothing out the tops with a spatula.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Transfer the cake pans to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely.
While the cake layers cool, make the cashew cream cheese frosting. Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
When the cake layers are cool, carefully remove them from the pans and peel off the parchment paper.
Invert one of the layers on a plate, and slather the top with half of the cashew cream cheese frosting. Top with the other layer, also inverted, and slather the top with the remaining frosting.
Slice and serve.
If using fresh pineapple (I did), place it in the blender and pulse just until it's finely chopped. Then transfer it to a mesh strainer and let the excess liquid drain for a few minutes.