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Thursday, 23 September 2021

The BEST Vegan Carrot Cake

How to make the most delicious carrot cake EVER! This recipe is 100% vegan, with 2 tiers of moist carrot and orange sponge cakes, topped with an orange Swiss meringue buttercream, a 3 ingredient caramel drip and fresh orange slices.

The perfect cake to serve with a cup of afternoon tea (or in my case, an iced latte)!

A question I have been asked in the past is what is carrot cake? 
Firstly, if you've never tried a carrot cake, you have been living under a rock- haha! Carrot cake is usually a vanilla cake with freshly grated carrot mixed throughout the batter. Sometimes nuts and spices are added into the sponge to bring out more flavours.

Carrot cake is a huge hit in my house. My mum and dad love it as it's not too sweet, I love the texture of the carrots inside the sponge and my sister loves the lightly spiced sponge with the creamy buttercream! 
I don't think you can ever go wrong with serving a carrot cake!

This is my favourite recipe for carrot cake. It's extremely light, moist, has the perfect amount of spice inside, with a hint of fresh orange. 

This carrot cake is:
  • Easy to make
  • Moist
  • Flavourful
  • Screams autumn / cosy desserts
  • The perfect addition to any dinner table / special event
  • Cake can be made in one bowl
  • Nice and crunchy due to the walnuts on top
  • Heaven with the caramel drip addition
  • Scrumptious

Recently, I've realised I have a real love for carrot cake, in particular this recipe. To me, it's like a comfort food. It gives you that autumnal spice, along side a burst of fresh orange (reminding me of summer), along with the silky smooth buttercream and chewiness of the carrots. It's utterly delicious! There is also a hidden caramel core which when cut into, oozes out of the cake. 
I also added a caramel drip to the outer edge of the cake which looks magnificent. 
Considering this is only a 2 tier cake, the drip somehow makes it look taller and grander than it actually is!

A slice of carrot cake along with a warm drink, cuddled up on the couch with Netflix on TV is my dream night in!

If you're not a fan of carrot cake, i'm sure the one you have tried has been too oily, heavy with far too much carrot in, the cake goes soggy. My cake has been tried, tested and tasted many times and it is the definition of perfect!
The cakes are perfectly spongy, the buttercream is tangy and not too sweet, the walnuts give a lovely crunch and it's fun to make! 

Looking for more autumnal recipes? Look no further:

What is Aquafaba:
Aquafaba is the water from a can/tin of Chickpeas. The Chickpea water or brine as it's called, acts as an amazing egg substitute for cakes, cupcakes and this delicious meringue buttercream. You can also get aquafaba in a carton for easy use. Check it out here.

What is the best dairy-free butter to use for this style of buttercream?
I highly recommend a vegan block butter when making any kind of buttercream containing aquafaba. As you're adding in a liquid (aquafaba) you want a firmer butter which will set. If you use margarine, the buttercream will be far too soft. My two favourite block butter's are 'Naturli' and Flora Plant-Based Vegan Block Alternative.

What coconut cream do I use? Chill a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight, turn it upside down and open. Pour out the liquid and use the thick, white cream.

Where can I buy vegan glitter stars?
My favourite edible glitter stars are from Fancy Sprinkles. They have one of the best ranges of vegan friendly sprinkles and cake decorations.
Get the sprinkles I use- Use code LITTLEVEGAN15 for 15% off your whole order on

Preparation: 1 hour
Baking time:  25 - 30 minutes
Serves: 6-8
Level: Easy / medium


Ingredients for the cake
  • 240ml of dairy-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 210g of self raising flour
  • 200g of caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 large orange (zest only)
  • 100g of grated carrot
  • 60ml of sunflower oil

Ingredients for the buttercream
  • 150g of dairy-free block butter (see notes*)
  • 200g of icing sugar
  • 1 large orange (zest only)
  • 40ml of aquafaba (chickpea brine) see notes*

Ingredients for the caramel sauce
  • 80g of caster sugar
  • 60g of coconut cream (see notes*)
  • 50g of dairy-free butter

Decorations (optional)
  • Vegan glitter stars (see notes*)
  • Walnuts (roughly chopped)
  • Fresh orange (sliced into small segments)

Method (cakes)
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c fan and line two, 6 inch cake tins with grease-proof paper.
If you only have one tin, you'll have to bake one cake at a time. Cover the batter with a tea towel until ready to use. 

2. In a bowl, combine the dairy-free milk with the apple cider vinegar and whisk until fully combined.
Set aside for 10 minutes to curdle. This creates a vegan 'buttermilk'.

3. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices and zest of one large orange.
Mix well to combine.

4. Add the oil into the 'buttermilk' and whisk to combine.

5. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix.

6. Add in the grated carrot and fold into the batter until just combined. Don't over mix the batter.

7. Pour equal amounts of batter into the lined cake tins.
Make sure to tap the tins on the worktop to remove any air bubbles.

8. Pop the cakes into the centre of the preheated oven and bake for around 25-30 minutes.
You will know they are done when you put a knife or skewer in and it comes out clean and they are springy to the touch.

9. Place the cakes on a cooling rack and allow to cool fully. 
Once cool, pop them into a sealed container to keep them fresh before frosting.

Method (caramel sauce)
1. Place the sugar into a large saucepan over low/medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until it begins to dissolve and turn an amber colour, then turn off the heat.
This will take around 10-15 minutes.

2. When it's golden and liquid, add in the coconut cream and dairy-free butter, stir vigorously.
It will steam and bubble but keep stirring.

3. Once fully combined, pour the caramel into a heatproof bowl, allow to come to room temperature before placing into the fridge to cool down fully.
It turns into a thick and glossy, sweet toffee-like sauce.

Method (buttercream)
1. In a large mixing bowl, add in the dairy-free butter and orange zest, whip until creamy. I use a stand mixer with a balloon whisk attachment, a hand mixer will work great too.

2. Sift in the icing sugar. Whip on high speed for a couple of minutes to incorporate it.

3. Pour in the aquafaba and whip for 5 minutes until it turns light and creamy. Don't over whip it or it can become too soft.

4. Place one of the cakes on a serving plate or cake stand. Dollop some of the buttercream on top and spread out until even using an off set spatula or pallet knife.
Make a well in the middle of the buttercream and fill with a heaped tablespoon of the caramel sauce.

5. Place the second cake layer on top. Press it down gently so it sticks.
Coat the whole cake with the buttercream. Use an off set spatula or cake scraper to get the sides of the cake smooth.

6. Add caramel sauce into a piping bag, snip off the tip and drip it down the top edge of the cake.

7. Add any left over buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a star tip nozzle and pipe some stars on the top edge of the cake.  Decorate with fresh orange segments, glitter stars and roughly chopped walnuts (optional).

To store:
Keep this cake stored in a sealed container in the fridge. Best eaten within 3 days of making.
Un-iced cakes can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature for 2 days.

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  1. Carrot cake is my husband's favorite! Always looking for a great vegan cake icing.

    1. Aw i love this! I know you'll both love this recipe ! ENJOY XX

  2. Does the coconut cream give the caramel sauce a super coconut flavor? Is there a good alternative to the coconut cream?

    1. Helloo, oh not at all!! I use coconut cream (the thick part) as it really helps the caramel get hat 'toffee like' texture. A thin single cream does work, but makes for a weaker and less 'chewy' caramel! Hope that helps x

  3. I have a very important question! (by the way, I love your recipes here!) When you make your buttercream, how come you whip the butter before the chickpea brine?

  4. i tried this cake yesterday and it's one of the few recipes that actually worked for me! the sponge was really fluffy and the carrot flavor was subtle, definitely will be doing it again! i just thought the milk flavor was a little too strong (i used store bought soy milk), so I'll be experimenting with oat or almond next time :) thanks for the recipe!


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