This moist and fluffy homemade carrot cake is vegan, meaning it is eggless and dairy-free. Since this carrot cake is also completely sugar-free (it’s still sweet and of course tasty), made with nuts, and with lots of carrots, it can even be classified as healthy and may be eaten as a dessert or as a breakfast. What you will also love about this recipe is, that this yummy cake turns out moist, but not too wet and not dense at all. Topped with a creamy vegan icing without cream cheese, this vegan carrot cake with nuts is one that everyone in the family can enjoy. This carrot cake recipe is for a loaf tin and offers you different options for several ingredients.
This vegan cake recipe has been tested, perfected, and tweaked until it offers a moist and delicious end result. During this process, there were lots of breaks in between. Kind of an on-off relationship. Mainly because the results were mostly kind of wet compressed bricks.
This sugar-free carrot cake is typical of my recipes and consists of simple ingredients, most of which you probably have at home, at least if you are vegan and eat lots of healthy things.
I love healthy cakes, or cakes that are as healthy as possible (this one contains some white wheat flour, but I think if that’s the worst thing, then that’s great), so I can eat them with a clear conscience. Like this chocolaty baked oats breakfast cake. Thanks to the good ingredients, these cakes are also suitable for babies and children.
This vegan carrot and nut cake is egg-free and even butter-free. I use oil instead of butter for this cake, usually rapeseed oil, but you can also use another neutral heat-resistant oil such as sunflower oil. Carrots, of course, quite a lot (almost half a kilo which is about 14 oz or a bit less than 1 lbs) are also part of this cake! They not only make the cake healthy but also nice and moist. A lot of nuts are also included. My favorite way to make carrot cake is with walnuts.
Of course, flour should not be missing either, all-purpose flour (wheat or spelt) and wholemeal flour. Instead of sugar, we use dates for this recipe. They are blended (more on that later) and therefore wonderfully combine with the other ingredients. And instead of eggs, flaxseed is used. Or applesauce. And some baking soda and/or baking powder.
I like to keep the spices for carrot cake simple and only use cinnamon. But even here there is room for adaption. How about some gingerbread spice or pumpkin spice? Or make your own blend, for example out of cinnamon but also some ground ginger, cloves, allspice, or nutmeg, especially in autumn or when you want it to taste like winter and Christmas. But be careful not to overdo it, less is more here.
Mmmmh, this frosting, I’m telling you, too good! The cake tastes good without it, but three times as delicious with it. Since the carrot cake should be as healthy as possible, and therefore sugar-free, that’s why a classic sugar-lemon icing, like on these apple cinnamon rolls or this lemon blueberry cake with blueberries is out of the question (although it would taste good).
Vegan cream cheese is now available in almost every supermarket, but it’s usually pretty rubbish in terms of nutritional value, and usually too expensive for that. And since I like making sour cream from cashews myself, it made sense to conjure up something similar. Tadaaa, a frosting without cream cheese was born for this carrot cake. It is made out of cashews, dates, lemon, and orange juice. That’s it, it doesn’t need more.
As mentioned at the beginning, creating this recipe was a longer process. I came up with a few possible versions and one, in my opinion, the best one. I summarize the possible versions in case you are up for some variations or adaptions.
Orange or lemon
I’ve tried so much here. My finding: A mixture of both is my favorite, namely with the taste of orange and the freshness of lemon. But here, too, you can vary, either depending on availability or the season and taste preference. The carrot cake can be made with a little more lemon juice in the spring and summer, and with more orange juice in the fall and winter. I’ve also juiced leftover mandarins, which worked very well.
Baking soda or baking soda
Here I am with and instead of or. Baking powder can be substituted for baking soda. I use a tablespoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of baking soda. I think that this combination makes the cake a little fluffier and light than only using baking powder. Maybe I’m only imagining it.
But since you would have to replace one teaspoon of baking soda with one tablespoon of baking powder (so a total of two tablespoons or one and a half packs of baking powder for this cake), there is a risk that the cake will taste too strongly of baking powder. Another argument for using baking soda.
In order for the cake to be fluffy, baking soda needs acid, which is provided by lemon juice. If you’re only using orange juice, I would add a tablespoon of neutral vinegar to be safe, as the orange juice may not be acidic enough.
Apple sauce or flaxseed
Baking soda and baking powder make this eggless carrot cake fluffy, while applesauce or flaxseed binds its ingredients. I’ve had good experiences with both ingredients here, but I prefer the flaxseed version for several reasons: I usually have them at home, applesauce is usually in larger jars, more than I need. I could buy baby food applesauce which is exactly the size I need but for the same price as the big one. Flaxseeds are simply cheaper. Plus, they’re so wonderfully healthy.
By the way: No, you don’t have to mix a so-called flaxseed egg for this recipe. Everything is very simple, more on that in a moment.
Maple syrup or dates
The recipe for this sugar-free carrot cake originally began with sugar, then I used maple syrup, and ended up with dates. They are also wonderfully sweet, but also full of nutrients. But if you like baking with maple syrup, I’ve tried this one too. Instead of 210 g dates, you can use 170 g (or 135 ml) maple syrup. Use about 3 tablespoons less juice for the batter.
This sugar-free carrot cake can be made and decorated in so many ways. In spring or for the vegan Easter table, maybe with finely chopped pistachios on top and in summer with coconut crumble. In winter with chopped walnuts to finish.
I’d like to add cocoa nibs, like in this Baked Oats breakfast cake, one day, as well as raisins. I imagine that both fit very well. I would also like to try baking muffins, because they are such a practical snack for on the go.
Good news: This moist carrot nut cake not only tastes great and is healthy, but it’s also pretty easy to make. Why pretty easy? Because it takes a few steps, but they are all simple.
While the oven is being preheated, you can start making the batter. First grate carrots finely. Love my kitchen machine that does it in no time. By the way, if you peel the carrots, you can save the skin for a homemade vegetable stock powder.
Then the pitted dates are mixed with oil (no butter is needed for this dairy-free carrot cake), lemon juice, orange juice, and flaxseed. This is your “flaxseed egg”, so to speak, but we don’t let it rest here, but put it in a larger bowl right away. Also, add some orange zest.
Next, add the dry ingredients, which are flour, nuts, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. I always make the cake batter in the kitchen machine and add everything here at once. (Let) mix well. While the ingredients are mixed, add the grated carrots.
This vegan carrot cake is designed for a loaf pan. I grease them and then dust them with flour, so the cake doesn’t stick. Because of the huge amounts of carrots, this is usually the case (been there, done that).
While the carrot cake is baking in the oven, the cashew frosting is being prepared. For this, cashews are soaked in hot water. When the cake is baked, the cashews are already soft enough and can be mixed with the dates, lemon, and orange juice. I prefer to use this inexpensive and powerful mini blender *).
Let the carrot cake bake for about 50 to 55 minutes at 180 degrees top and bottom heat. It’s ready when it has passed the toothpick test: stick a clean toothpick into the cake and pull it out again: if the toothpick still has batter on it, the cake needs a little more baking time. If the toothpick comes out clean, you can switch off the oven and open the door so that the cake can cool down on the grid.
And while the cake is cooling down, the frosting can also cool down a bit in the fridge, which will make it a little firmer. When the carrot cake has cooled down, you can put the frosting on it. By the way, you can leave the carrot cake in the fridge overnight and put the frosting on top the next day (don’t put it on too long before serving, it just looks the best fresh). And if you wish, you can add some decoration at the end. For me, it’s mostly grated orange peel.
If you want to store your homemade carrot cake for a few days, it needs to be refrigerated. I always leave it on the long plate and put everything in the fridge as it is. Your carrot cake will not dry out in the fridge. It will stay nice for at least four days. Take the carrot cake out a little before serving, it simply tastes best at room temperature.
This homemade carrot cake is vegan, sugar-free and healthy, but still moist, sweet, and fluffy. 🥰🥕🐇 Recipe on plantbasedredhead.com 🌱👩🦰♬ Saana – Ebo Taylor
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- 400 g (14 oz or approx. 3.5 cups finely grated and lightly packed) carrots
- 210 g pitted dates) = approx. 20 dates
- 120 g (135 ml or 4.5 oz or 0.5 cups and 1 tbsp) oil
- 1 organic lemon
- 2 organic oranges
- 2 tablespoons whole flaxseeds
- 300 g (10.6 oz or 2.4 cups. I use half all-purpose flour and half wholemeal spelt flour) flour
- 150 g (5.3 oz or 1.25 cups) ground walnuts
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch of salt
- a bit of oil and about 1 teaspoon flour for the baking pan
- 80 g (2.8 oz or 1/2 cup) cashews
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 orange
- 4 pitted dates
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (355 F) top and bottom heat
- Finely grate the carrots (if they are not organic, peel them beforehand if necessary) and set aside. I grate the carrots with my food processor *)
- Grate the zest of a lemon and an orange, the outermost layer (excluding the white bitter one underneath). Put half of the zest aside for decoration.
- Then squeeze the lemon and both oranges. You need a total of 150 ml (5 oz or 0.65 cup) of juice. If it is still not enough, the rest can be filled up with (mineral) water.
- Blend the dates with the oil, lemon juice, orange juice, and flaxseeds (I do this with my mini blender *). Pour the mixture into a bowl.
- Add lemon and orange zest.
- Add dry ingredients (flour, ground walnuts, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt) (I add them all at once when I use my food processor) and mix
- Add the grated carrots while stirring and mix well.
- Grease a loaf pan *) with a bit of oil and then dust it with flour.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan.
- Place the loaf tin in the oven (one level below the middle one) and bake at 180 degrees (365 F) for about 50 to 55 minutes. Do the toothpick test!
- Turn off the oven, open the door, and let the cake cool before carefully removing it from the pan.
- While the cake is baking, the frosting can be prepared:
- Soak the cashews in hot water for about 45 minutes.
- Squeeze the lemon and half the orange. In total, it should be 80 ml (2.7 oz or 0.35 cups) of juice.
- Blend *) the cashews, lemon, and orange juice, and dates until creamy.
- While the cake is cooling, refrigerate the frosting as well. The frosting is spread over the cake before serving.
- Decorate the carrot cake with the remaining lemon and orange zest.
- Instead of the dates in the cake, you can use 170 g (135 ml or 12 oz or 0.5 cup and 1 tbsp) maple syrup.
- You can use 125 g (4.4 oz or 0.5 cup) of applesauce instead of the flaxseed
- Instead of baking soda, you theoretically could use a total of 2 tbsp. But in order that the cake does not run the risk of tasting too much like baking powder, I advise against this exchange
- You can be creative with the spices and use pumpkin spice or gingerbread spice instead of just cinnamon. Or add a little each of clove, allspice, nutmeg, and ground ginger (don't over-season)
- You can use the carrot peels for a homemade vegetable stock powder.