This vegan carrot cake recipe is loaded with walnuts and pineapple. This recipe is great to mimic the best non-vegan version of a classic carrot cake. Along with a rich and creamy vegan cream cheese frosting, you could serve this to anyone and they would be ecstatic with the taste!
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Making Dairy Free and Vegan Carrot Cake
It’s rather easy to make the cake part of carrot cake dairy free and vegan overall. I think it’s the cream cheese frosting that can be a challenge for people to make dairy free. Read below for some tasty vegan icing options!
This particular recipe was adapted from a non-vegan recipe which was dairy free but included eggs. I simply substituted the eggs for a ground flaxseed “egg” and substituted the all-purpose flour for whole wheat and this tasty vegan carrot cake was born!
It’s amazing to me how easy and tasty these two substitutions were to make. I’ve made this recipe with all-purpose flour just to see if it would be any better. I honestly couldn’t tell a difference between the two. So there was no need to use white flour and I’ve kept it whole wheat. Even though this is a decadent dessert, I figure extra fibre is a good thing.
On that note, please keep in mind that it’s perfectly ok to enjoy less healthy options. They are okay to enjoy, without guilt.
Vegan Icing for Carrot Cake
There are a few options for making vegan carrot cake frosting. In this recipe I’ve made a classic cream cheese frosting and simply substituted regular cream cheese (from the non-vegan recipe) for a store-bought vegan cream cheese.
While this is a tasty option, some people may not have access to vegan cream cheese substitutes. In this case, there are three other options to use:
- Cashew or other nut-based frosting: There are lots of recipes for how to do this, but essentially you blend cashews or other nuts/ seeds with icing sugar, vanilla and some plant-based milk. The cashews or other nuts/ seeds provide a rich and creamy base for the icing. The tangy flavour of cream cheese may be missing, unless you add in some acid from lemons or vinegar (some recipes call for this, others don’t).
- Make a vegan cream cheese substitute: If not wanting to use a store-bought vegan cream cheese base or don’t have access to any, make your own first and incorporate into this recipe. It’ll likely produce a delicious flavour but take more time.
- Whipped coconut cream: Again, there are many recipes for this. I personally find this is a lighter option, more like a whipped cream. I’ve also found, in making whipped coconut cream frosting in the past, that it tends to become a bit watery or not hold its shape/ start to run off from the cake when left to sit for too long (even in the fridge). Maybe I’m doing something wrong but I tend to avoid making this now.
Whichever option you choose, I hope you enjoy the vegan carrot cake with a rich and creamy frosting!
NOTE: this recipe makes one 9-inch cake. If you want to make a double-layer cake like in the pictures, you need to double the recipe. Depending on how much icing you like, you may not need to double the icing recipe.
Vegan Carrot Cake with Walnuts and Pineapple + Cream Cheese Frosting
- Large bowl
- 9-inch cake pan (round)
- Electric hand mixer
- 4 oz vegan cream cheese
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 C icing sugar
- 1 tsp plant-based milk or water (if needed)
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
- In a small bowl, mix together the 2 tbsp ground flaxseed with the 6 tbsp of water. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the ¾ C packed brown sugar and ¼ C vegetable oil. You can use a hand-mixer if you choose.
- Stir in the ¼ C crushed pineapple (drained) and 1 ½ C grated carrot to the sugar and oil. Stir in the flaxseed egg you prepared. Note: make sure to drain excess liquid from the pineapple; I recommend using a mesh strainer and pressing the pineapple down with a spoon to release excess liquid.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the 1 C whole wheat flour, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp baking soda and 1 tsp cinnamon.
- Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Don’t over-stir. Mix just until there are no dry ingredients left.
- Next, stir in the walnuts and raisins.
- Pour into a greased 9-inch cake pan.
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Place 4 oz of vegan cream cheese into a deep bowl. Add ½ tsp vanilla and 1 C icing sugar. Use a hand-mixer to whip the ingredients together.
- You may find the icing is too thick depending on the brand of vegan cream cheese used. If required, add 1 tsp plant-based milk or water to thin it out. Be very careful when adding liquid to any frosting recipe as it can become very thin with a very small amount of liquid.