The one vegetable I always reliably have in my fridge is carrots. They’re super cheap, they’re versatile, they last forever, they seem to always be in season, and they are the base flavour builder of many dishes. Carrots are definitely a staple vegetable, but that doesn’t mean they always have to be savoury. If you have a sweet tooth and a fridge full of carrots, this recipe is for you!
Carrot cake is something I grew up enjoying. I loved how dense and moist the cake was, the tangy cream cheese icing, and the fact that I was getting a secret dose of veggies without really realizing it. I still adore carrot cake, so I just had to make a vegan iteration of this classic treat. I don’t know anyone who’s not a fan of carrot cake (unless it has raisins in it, but who would do such a thing?!?). My husband brought some of this cake to work and his coworkers were raving about it, and now I’m finally ready to share the fantastic recipe with you.
It all begins with vegan buttermilk, neutral-flavoured oil, and vegan yogurt for extra moistness and a light tang. Then all the dry ingredients get sifted in with warm spices like cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.
Then we of course fold in freshly grated carrot for that lovely carrot flavour and delightfully orange hue. I opted not to add walnuts to the cake itself because I wanted to preserve the integrity of a perfectly light and moist cake without the interruption of crunchy bits. But don’t worry – I still put walnuts between the layers of the cake and all over the icing, so you won’t be devoid of crunch. Alternatively, you could bake the walnuts right along with the batter if that’s your thing.
Once the cakes are out of the oven, they need to cool for a couple hour before frosting and assembling them. In that time, you can whip up the delicious cream cheese icing. It’s a larger volume of the icing recipe I use for my Red Velvet Cupcakes, and it takes just 5 minutes to make and it seriously tastes like its dairy-filled predecessor. No one will detect that something very vegan is up; it’s the perfect thing to fool unwitting friends and relatives.
This classic vegan carrot cake requires simple methods and is relatively easy to make. The hardest part is assembling the cake because it necessitates levelling the cakes and icing smoothly and evenly. But it’s fun! At the end of it all you will be left with a decadent vegan carrot cake, and that’s the best reward you could ask for!
I really hope you’ll give this carrot cake recipe a try! Let me know in the comments how it turns out, and tag your creations on Instagram with #whoneedssalad. Oh, and don’t forget to leave a rating! Happy baking!
- 1½ cups almond milk
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ¾ cup canola oil
- ½ cup vegan yogurt
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ⅛ tsp allspice
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups grated carrot, loosely packed
- ½ cup chopped walnuts, for decorating
- ⅔ cup vegan margarine
- ⅔ cup vegan cream cheese
- 6 cups icing sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- splash of almond milk, if needed
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 round 9" cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper for easy removal.
- Place the almond milk in a large measuring cup and whisk in the apple cider vinegar. Set aside to curdle.
- In a large mixing bowl, place the oil, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla. Use a wooden spoon to mix, then add the almond milk mixture and stir until fully combined.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Mix until just combined. Fold in the grated carrot until fully incorporated.
- Divide the batter evenly between the 2 cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pan and allow to cool on the wire rack for at least an hour. Cakes should be thoroughly cool before icing.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the margarine and cream cheese. Add the icing sugar in 1 cup increments and mix until the mixture looks dry and crumbly.
- Add the vanilla extract, lemon juice, and salt, and mix on high speed until thoroughly combined.
- If the icing looks too dry, add a few splashes of almond milk until it loosens up a little. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to decorate. Keep in mind the icing will firm up considerably in the fridge.
- Place the first cake on a cake board or serving dish. Use a bread knife to carefully remove the dome from the cake so you are left with a flat surface. Do the same with the other cake layer and set aside.
- Place a generous amount of icing on the first layer and sprinkle walnuts over top. Cover with the next cake layer and ice the entire exterior of the cake. Decorate as desired with the remaining walnuts. Store the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.