A moist and flavour-packed vegan carrot cake with cream 'cheese' icing, that's easy to make with no weird ingredients... what more could you ask for?!
Carrot cake must surely be one of the nation's favourite teatime treats, and there's absolutely no reason why vegans should miss out, so here's a plant-based version, with dairy-free cream 'cheese' icing to top it off. And it really is easy, I promise. The list of ingredients is longer than I had hoped, but each one is there for a reason, and even if you've never baked a cake before, this is a really simple one to put together.
This was actually my son's first birthday cake, (and yes, I cut out a slice for the purposes of these photographs before he had blown his candle out... poor kid! Well, I won't get away with it again as he'll know what's going on next year when he's two, so this was my last chance....).
📝 What you need
Carrots obviously! But you can also experiment with other vegetables - I made a parsnip version of this a few months ago and it was pretty epic, even if I do say so myself!!
Walnuts are a carrot cake classic but I do also love this with pecans or hazelnuts so do choose whichever you prefer, or you have in the cupboard!
Soya milk I always recommend soya milk for baking particularly when it is acting as an 'egg replacer' as it has the highest protein content of any of the plant based milks so behaves most like an egg would. However your cake will still turn out well if you use oat or nut milks too, so if you can't or don't want to use soya don't be put off.
Dairy-free margarine for the icing - I often use a spread rather than a block margarine as it makes the icing very soft, creamy and easy to work with. My favourites are Flora vegan or Naturli spread. Do leave them out of the fridge for a while before making the icing, the softer the better.
Dairy-free cream cheese for the icing - I have tried using many different brands and usually come back to Violife cream cheese as the best tasting in this icing.
Pistachios just look so pretty on the top of this cake, but they are pricey so do use walnuts or pecans instead, or pipe pretty rosettes of the icing around the edge!
❄️ Storing and Freezing
This cake keeps really well in an airtight cake tin or tupperware for 3-4 days - it is so moist thanks to the carrots and nuts that it doesn't dry out like a plain sponge might.
It also freezes really well, so great if you need to plan ahead for a party or gathering. Just pop a sheet of greaseproof paper between the two sponges and wrap them in foil and they will keep really well for months. Then you just need to ice and decorate them before serving.
This is so straightforward to make that sometimes I double the recipe and pop a spare cake in the freezer (or make little individual ones to freeze, even better!). It is so handy to have cake in the freezer for unexpected guests or school cake sales you've forgotten about...!
⭐️ Reader Testimonials
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "Delicious cake and a hit with non-vegans too. So much so that a friend has passed it on to a teacher colleague to share with her class!" Tessa
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "Carrot cake was delicious and family members I left outside their door thought I had bought it and asked for the recipe! Will make again as was so easy to do." Renita
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "Made this for my wife’s birthday – it’s the first time I ever made a two-layered cake and frosting – it came out amazing! The instructions are great and so easy to follow, thanks for a great recipe!" Jon
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "I made this the other day. It truly is the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted – and I’ve tasted a lot! You’d also never know that it’s vegan." Jo
🍽 If you liked that...
.... you might also enjoy these vegan recipes from The Veg Space:
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Easy Vegan Carrot Cake
For the cake:
- 270 g carrots
- 135 g walnuts
- 1 orange
- 135 g sultanas
- 400 g self-raising flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 240 g soft light brown sugar
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- 400 ml soya milk
- 160 ml rapeseed oil (or other flavourless oil)
For the icing:
- 440 g icing sugar
- 100 g dairy-free margarine
- 100 g dairy-free cream 'cheese'
- 1-2 tbsp soya milk
- 3 tbsp shelled pistachios (optional)
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Grease two 23cm (9 inch) cake tins and line the bottoms with baking parchment / greaseproof paper.
- Peel and trim the carrots and grate them into a bowl. Finely chop the walnuts and add to the carrots. Grate the zest of the orange into the bowl, and finally weigh the sultanas and add to the bowl.
- Next, put the flour, baking powder, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl.
- Mix the soya milk and rapeseed oil in a jug, then tip them into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix (by hand) until combined and the batter is fairly smooth.
- Tip in the carrot, walnuts, orange zest and sultanas and stir until fully combined.
- Bang the bowl firmly onto the work surface (this stops the raising agents starting to work too early). Divide the cake mixture between the two tins, and bang each tin on the work surface once again, (you will see tiny bubbles come to the surface).
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until a knife or skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack, peel off the paper and leave until fully cool.
- TOP TIP: If you have time, the cake will be even better if you now put it in an airtight container or tin overnight. The crust will become soft and the cake will become more moist.
For the icing:
- Place the icing sugar, margarine and cream cheese into a large bowl (or mixer), and beat together until completely smooth. Add the soya milk one tablespoon at a time until the icing is light and fluffy.
- Sandwich the two cakes together with a layer of icing in the middle (use about one third of the icing for this), and spread the remaining icing over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios if you wish, or any other chopped nuts.
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