This Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake is moist, rich and full of flavor. It’s topped with a smooth vegan cream cheese frosting that’s as easy to make as delicious. Layers of tender cake full of warm spices make this cake the perfect sweet treat for any occasion!
WHY MAKE THIS CAKE
It’s moist and rich but healthy at the same time. The warm spices, walnuts and raisins make this vegan and gluten-free cake even more special.
It’s not overly sweet and just perfect to pair with the addictive vegan cream cheese frosting. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t taste like carrots.
It’s easy to make. Haven’t you made a Vegan Gluten-free Carrot Cake before? Feeling intimidated? You shouldn’t, honestly. You’ll love this recipe for its simplicity. It’s a really foolproof cake!
Oh, and it ticks all the boxes, it’s vegan, gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free.
INGREDIENTS NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Flour. Gluten-free flour blend is what I usually use here. If you’re not gluten-free, substitute for all-purpose normal flour at a ratio of 1:1.
Sugar: You can use brown sugar, cane sugar or white sugar.
Vegetable milk: Almond milk, oat milk or soy milk are the best choices for baking, although you can perfectly use your favorite plant-based milk.
Walnuts: walnuts are a great addition to this carrot cake. You can add pecans instead if you prefer. If you are allergic to nuts, you can omit them without sacrificing the flavor.
Apple sauce. You can either use Homemade Apple Sauce or store-bought.
Raisins: for extra moisture and flavor. They also make a more tender cake. In case you don’t like them, you can try adding dried cranberries or simply omit them.
HOW TO MAKE THE CARROT CAKE
Full instructions and measurements can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Preheat the oven. Line and grease three 7-inch cake pans.
First, mix the milk and vinegar and let sit for 2 minutes until it curdles.
Then, add oil, applesauce and vanilla. Stir to combine.
Now, sift in flour, spices, baking powder and baking soda and salt.
Whisk everything until well combined.
Add the sugar and stir to combine.
Add the grated carrots, walnuts and raisins.
Divide the batter evenly into the three lined pans.
Bake 20 minutes. Let them cool for 15 minutes before unmolding.
With a serrated knife, carefully remove the top of the cake.
HOW TO FROST & DECORATE
Put a small amount of frosting onto the cake stand to keep the cake from sliding.
Place the first cake layer, put a big scoop of frosting and spread with a spatula.
Stack the second cake layer on top and repeat the process.
Top with the third cake upside down and apply a thin layer of frosting. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Finish frosting the cake with a second layer of frosting.
Put the remaining frosting into a piping bag and pipe swirls on top.
Top the cake with additional chopped walnuts.
Cake layers can be wrapped and stored at room temperature overnight. Make sure they have completely cooled before wrapping them.
The Cream Cheese Frosting can be made 1-2 days ahead and stored in the fridge. You can use the cream cheese directly from the refrigerator without softening it beforehand. In fact, it’s even better to use it when it’s firmer.
To freeze this cake, wrap it in a double layer of plastic wrap, place it in a freezer bag and put it in the freezer. Once you are going to use it, let it thaw overnight in the fridge or for several hours on the counter.
Vegan gluten-free carrot cake will last for one or two days at room temperature, stored in an airtight container. Then, place it in the fridge for up to five days.
Yes, but I really recommend grating your own carrots. Store-bought shredded carrots tend to be dry and hard. Freshly grated carrots are wetter, tastier and more tender.
Three 6-inch round cake pans. This recipe is perfect to use in 6-inch round cake pans too, there is no need to adjust the ingredients’ amounts. You’ll get a three-layered cake as well.
Two 9-inch round cake pans. If you’d like to use 9-inch round cake pans, you’ll get a two-layered cake. If so, bake the cake a little longer, for 30-35 minutes.
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Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
- Three 7-inch round cake pans
- Big mixing bowl
- Silicone spatula
For the Vegan Gluten-free Carrot Cake:
- 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (270 gr)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup brown sugar (150 gr)
- ½ cup plant based milk (125 ml) (almond, oat, soy or rice milk)
- ½ cup applesauce (125 gr) (homemade applesauce or store bought)
- ⅔ cup mild olive oil (150 ml) (or canola oil or sunflower oil)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups grated carrots (180 gr) (about 3 medium carrots)
- ½ cup chopped walnuts (60 gr) , plus 2 tablespoons to top the cake
- ½ cup raisins (70 gr)
For the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup vegan butter , room temperature
- 1 cup vegan cream cheese , room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract , optional
For the Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF / 180ºC. Line three 7-inch/18 cm cake pans with parchment paper. I use round discs of parchment paper to line the bottom of my pans. Also, grease the pans with butter or vegan cooking spray.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, start mixing the wet ingredients. First, mix the milk and vinegar and let sit for 2 minutes until it curdles. Then, add the oil, applesauce and vanilla extract. Give it a stir.
- Now, sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Mix for 30 seconds. Add the sugar. Mix for 30 more seconds, just until blended.
- Add the rest of the ingredients: grated carrots, chopped walnuts and raisins. Mix for 30 additional seconds, until combined.
- Divide the batter evenly into the three lined pans.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Insert a tooth pick in the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean the cakes are done.
- Remove from the oven and let them cool for 15 minutes before unmolding. Let cool completely before frosting. If you need to speed the cooling process, place the cake in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Once the cake have cooled down, serve as it is or frost with the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting.
For the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
- Using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat the butter in a large bowl for approximately 1 minute or until it becomes creamy.
- Add the cream cheese and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Don't over beat.
- Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Mix on low speed until the mixture is completely combined and creamy. Add more powdered sugar if the frosting is not thick enought.
- You can use the frosting straight away, but if you leave it in the fridge for a while, it will thicken and will be firmer to decorate your cakes.
For Frosting and Assembling the Cake
- You can frost the cakes as they are or level them with serrated knife. It only takes a few minutes and makes for a beautiful presentation when serving.
- Once your cakes are cooled and leveled, line the edges of a cake plate with pieces of parchment paper that can be easily removed when the cake is finished. I used a cake turntable and placed a gold cake board on it.
- Start spreading the buttercream on each cake and stack them on the prepared plate (or cake board). Top with the third layer upside down.
- Apply a crumb coat (thin layer) of frosting to seal the crumbs. Freeze for 15 minutes to help set the crumb coat.
- Remove from the freezer and frost the sides and top of the cake with a pallet knife or a spatula. Decorate with fresh additional chopped walnuts. Enjoy!