cake

Gracious Vegan Carrot Cake 

By the Gracious Vegan

Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting square.jpg

This recipe is an adaptation of Robin Robertson’s recipe for carrot cake. I did the multiplication to have enough for two layers or a 13x9 cake, plus I futzed with the measurements and replaced some of the oil with applesauce. Carrot cake is a bit old-fashioned now, but the autumn-spice flavor and the complex texture are timeless and appealing.

Makes one 8” double-layer cake or one 13”x9” cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F. For a layer cake, line two 8” round pans with parchment or wax paper. Spray the sides lightly with spray-oil. For a sheet cake, spray an aluminum or glass 9x13” pan with spray-oil.

In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. 

  • 3 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour (or a combination)

  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine the following ingredients. 

  • 1 + 1/3 cup sugar

  • 3/4 cup nondairy milk

  • 3/8 cup applesauce

  • 3/8 cup canola or other neutral oil

  • 3/8 cup maple syrup

  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Then stir in the carrots and add-ins until just combined.

  • 3 cups grated carrots

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins and/or 1/2 cup shredded coconut and/or 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 30-40 minutes for 8” rounds or 40-45 minutes for 13x9”. The cake should be a definite shade darker than the raw batter, with the edges even darker, and a toothpick should come out clean.

For 8” rounds, let the cakes cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert them onto wire racks to cool completely. 

Frost with: 

Timing: About 70 minutes, then more time to cool

Nutrition: Healthier than many cakes

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Vegan Cashew “Cream Cheese” Frosting

By the Gracious Vegan

This frosting goes well with the  Gracious Vegan Carrot Cake .

This frosting goes well with the Gracious Vegan Carrot Cake.

I don’t like frosting with a lot of vegan butter and shortening in them. I kept experimenting with combining a smaller portion of vegan butter than usual with some whipped cashew cream. The problem was that the water used in the whipped cashew cream made the frosting watery. So I approached it another way: I melted the vegan butter and had it serve as a liquid for whipping up the cashew cream. After you blend them together (with a few other ingredients) until the cashews dissolve, you refrigerate or freeze the mixture, then use a mixer to make it fluffy. I wish it could eliminate the chilling step, but I haven’t found a way to do so.

IMakes about 1.75 cups

Soak cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes (even if you have a high-speed blender).

  • 1 cup raw cashew pieces

Melt butter in a small container in the microwave (or on the stove). 

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter

Put the melted butter and soaked (and well-drained) cashews in the blender. Add the following ingredients. Blend on high under you have very smooth cream. 

  • 2 Tablespoons water 

  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • A pinch of salt

Add powdered sugar and blend again until smooth. 

  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar

Transfer to a container or the bowl you use with your mixer. Refrigerate the frosting for at least 4 hours (or freeze for 2 hours). Then whip it with a mixer on high for about 2 to 3 minutes until the frosting is smooth and as fluffy as you can get it. 

Timing: Over 2 hours because of the needed chilling

Nutrition: Not healthy, but better for you than frosting made with butter and shortening

Gluten-free

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Vegan White Chocolate Cashew Buttercream

By the Gracious Vegan

Almond Cake with White Chocolate Filling 16x9.jpg

After I included vegan white chocolate chunks in a contest-winning cookie recipe last Christmas, I decided I wanted that flavor in a cake frosting. Many experiments later, I have arrived at this solution. This frosting also serves well as a filling, as I show in this photo with the Gracious Vegan Almond Poppy Seed Cake.

Soak cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes (even if you have a high-speed blender).

  • 1 cup raw cashew pieces

When they are done soaking, rinse and drain them. Then put them in the bottom of a blender and add just enough water to barely cover them. Blend on high under you have very smooth cashew cream. Set aside. 

Separately cream butter with a mixer on medium speed.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter at room temperature

Very carefully melt the white chocolate. Use a double-broiler or a microwave (for the microwave, start with 45 seconds, stir, then 30 seconds, stir, then 10-second increments). Stop heating the chocolate when there are still a few small lumps of unmelted chocolate in the bowl and stir them smooth. Do not let it cool much before adding to the butter, or else there will be chunky pieces of chocolate in the frosting. Add to the creamed vegan butter and whip on medium until creamy.

  • 3.5 ounces vegan white chocolate chips or roughly chopped bar chocolate

Add powdered sugar, and cream on medium until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. 

  • 1.25 cups powdered sugar

Stir in the following ingredients and beat on high for about 1 to 3 minutes until the buttercream frosting is smooth and fluffy. 

  • Cashew cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • A pinch of salt

Timing: About 20 minutes

Nutrition: Not healthy, but vegan/plant-based

Gluten-free

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