This Vegan Carrot Cake is moist, airy, and filled with spice. The Vegan Carrot Cream Cheese Frosting has a deep caramelized flavor with a smooth and creamy texture!
Carrot cake is reserved for springtime, gracing the dessert table around April and May. However I wanted to flip the seasons, and turn this cake into an all-year classic, defying its typecast Easter-time role.
Using pumpkin pie spice cuts down on prep time and still delivers those earthy, warm autumn flavors. I finely grated the carrots and drained the liquid, this prevented any disturbance between the ratio of wet and dry ingredients.
Oh and this cake is vegan. I state this fact late in the post, because this cake feels far from vegan. Some vegan cakes take on a bread-y and leaden quality. The secret ingredient to having an airy and tender cake crumb? Aquafaba. The liquid from a can of chickpeas. Yes, you read correctly. Adding three tablespoons in place of every one egg yields a cake that has structure and tenderness.
I used 9-inch cake pans to create a wide and low, almost torte-like, structure. You can easily bake the cake in 6-inch pans to create that popular tall and narrow look.
Now the frosting. The frosting is my favorite part. Boiling down the carrot juice concentrates the carrot flavor, creating a thick and glossy syrup. This frosting has that subtle taste you get when roasting carrots—deep sultry caramelized notes. No food dye here, the intense orange is 100% natural. The vegan cream cheese at the end of the recipe, is not a typo. Since this is not real cream cheese, over whipping the vegan cream cheese will produce a gritty texture. If you add the vegan cream cheese near the end of the mixing process, you prevent the frosting from breaking.
This Vegan Carrot Cake has complex flavors from the Vegan Carrot Cream Cheese Frosting and the warm spices mixed into the cake, surpassing any traditional carrot cake!
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- For the Vegan Carrot Cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 ½ cups light brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 6 tablespoons aquafaba
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup finely grated carrots, drained
- ½ cup roasted and chopped cashews
- For the Carrot Syrup:
- 32 ounces unsweetened carrot juice
- For the Vegan Carrot Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) vegan butter, softened
- 4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup carrot syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
- 12 ounces vegan cream cheese, softened
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans with baking spray, line bottoms with parchment paper, spray paper, and set aside.
- Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a large bowl, set aside. In another bowl whisk brown sugar, oil, aquafaba, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla. Pour wet into dry, whisk until there are no pockets of dry ingredients remaining. The batter will still look lumpy. Fold in grated carrots and chopped cashews.
- Divide batter between two pans and bake for 26 to 30 minutes, rotating halfway. A toothpick inserted should come out clean with a few moist not wet crumbs. Let cakes cool in pan for 10 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. For an even moister cake, wrap cake layers in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- In a small to medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring carrot juice to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, continuing to cook until the liquid has significantly evaporated and the texture changes into a thick syrup and has a deep amber orange color, about 60 to 80 minutes. Makes 1/3 cup. Refrigerate in a heat safe bowl until cool.
- Beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, about 30 seconds. Scrape bowl and paddle, add powdered sugar, flour, carrot syrup, vanilla, and salt, beating for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add cream cheese and beat until incorporated and smooth another 1 minute.
- Apply a bit of frosting onto a cake board. Secure the first cake layer, apply an even layer of frosting. Top with second layer. Apply a thin crumb coat. Chill for 20 minutes, apply a final thicker layer of frosting.