A simple vegan carrot cake with orange and cardamon and a maple sweetened coconut icing. Just the thing for afternoon coffee or a relaxed birthday party.
This post was originally shared in September 2018. It has been updated as of April 2020 with improvements to the text and recipes, and a video has been added.
Vegan Carrot Cake
Traditional carrot cake recipes rely on a lot of sugar and a ton of oil, but this version is much lighter. We’ve cut some of the oil, using apple sauce to moisten, and maple syrup adds sweetness along with coconut sugar.
The addition of a good dose of cardamom and a hit of orange zest makes this recipe more modern and less like your mum’s carrot cake of yesteryear. Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg are still in there, don’t worry! It’s still super cozy, a perfect cool weather cake for spring or autumn.
This is delicious with some maple sweetened coconut whipped cream but a simple glaze will work just as well. For something entirely different, but delicious, try icing yours with a chocolate ganache. Try topping the cake with some candied mixed peel to fancy things up even more.
Making the Cake
We use a square baking tin but you can use an equivalent round one (23cm / 9 in.) if you prefer. Just mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another, mix, and bake. No creaming needed.
To speed up the process, you can grate the carrots with the grating attachment in your food processor if you have one. Otherwise a good old fashioned box grater does the trick!
Baking time is just 30 minutes, so you’re about 40 minutes away from eating your very own vegan carrot cake right now. If you can’t wait for it to cool down first, just serve the whipped cream on the side.
The cake keeps well for several days without drying out thanks to the moisture from the carrots and applesauce. It’s a good choice even for small households – and you can easily make it into cupcakes! Just bake for about 20 minutes instead of 30 in a standard muffin tin.
We love the orange and spice combination, but if you don’t have an orange, feel free to leave it out or replace with a bit of lemon zest. Since there’s no orange juice in the cake, it’s an easy switch. You can also use a bit of chopped candied peel instead.
Hate nutmeg? Ditch it. Cloves, allspice, and any other warming sweet spices – or a blend like pumpkin pie spice – work well in this cake. Alternatively, increase one of the other spices, like the cinnamon or cardamom.
If you have no pecans on hand, feel free to sub for another nut. We recommend walnuts at the top substitution, but hazelnuts are nice too. If you need to it be nut free, they can be left out or you can use sunflower seeds.
We call for almond milk, but other light milks like oat, cashew, and so on are all great. (not full-fat canned coconut milk). Light cooking oil typically refers to organic canola oil, grape seed, avocado, and other oils that don’t have a pronounced flavour on their own. Olive is probably a bit strong and coconut will make the cake too dense.
Other sugars like brown or cane sugar can be switched for the coconut sugar, but if you’re going to switch it, we prefer brown sugar for a similar caramel flavour to coconut. Make sure you’re using unsweetened applesauce or risk the cake being quite sweet.
We haven’t tried it, but we’ve heard from readers that this cake can be made gluten free using a gluten-free flour blend (we like the all-purpose GF from Bob’s Red Mill). If, for some reason, you have parsnips in the house but no carrots, you can also make a vegan parsnip cake.
If you make this recipe, let us know by tagging @baked_theblog + #bakedtheblog on Instagram! We love to feel like we’re in the kitchen with you.
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ground cardamon
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/3 cup light cooking oil
- 1 1/2 cups finely grated carrot
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a 9 x 9 inch (23 cm) square baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the apple sauce, coconut sugar, maple syrup, oil, almond milk, and orange zest. Stir in the grated carrot.
- Pour the wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined.
- Transfer batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly touched.
- Cool in the baking pan for 10 - 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Eat as is for breakfast or an afternoon snack, or top with vegan cream cheese icing or coconut whipped cream and toasted coconut.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 323Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 458mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 3gSugar: 21gProtein: 4g
This is an approximation of the nutrition offered in this recipe, and is created using a nutrition calculator.