Vegan Carrot cake with 'cream cheese' frosting
Traditionally, cakes are made with eggs, butter, flour and sugar – so how exactly do you create delicious plant-based and gluten free cakes without eggs and butter? You can adapt your favourite recipes, but it takes some practice and experience to understand what works for each kind of recipe. To get you started below is a very reliable plant-based carrot cake recipe that is a winner every time it is served, complete with plant-based ‘cream cheese’ frosting.
Wheat Free flours and flour blends are easily available and many will do a reasonable job, but they don’t perform the same way as wheat flour. It is important if you want to regularly bake gluten-free treats or adapt your favourite wheat recipes, that you develop an understanding of the properties of wheat flour and gluten-free flours so you can make the right substitutions. Luckily Doves Farm and supermarkets have developed flour blends that are likely to work for many sponge and biscuit recipes. The blends do vary in their ingredients and they give different results, so using the exact brand that is given in the recipe is the best idea if in doubt. I tend to rely on Doves Farm plain and self-raising flour blends for cakes, and their bread flour blend is good for pastry. TIP: Gluten-free cakes can be dry or grainy, especially if they are kept for more than a day. Allow the wet and dry ingredients to sit together for 10-15 mins before cooking a gluten-free recipe, this gives the flour an opportunity to absorb moisture to avoid this.
Eggs do different work in different recipes. The substitution you need will depend what function the eggs have. Generally though, an ‘egg replacement’ powder such as Orgran Egg Replacer and some additional baking powder will do in most recipes. TIP: I find that it works better to add about 50% more egg replacement than the fresh egg called for in the recipe for a gluten-free cake. Here are some common egg replacements that you might want to try:
Lifting: Aquafaba (whipped lentil or bean water), baking powder.
Moistening & Binding: Egg Replacer, Ground Flax seeds soaked in water, fruit puree.
Structure: Adding ground nuts or psyllium husks can help create a firmer, denser or moister sponge or bread.
Scone/Pastry ‘egg wash’: Sweetened plant-based milk. Syrup added to plant-based milk works better than granulated sugar – but watch out, either way it can make your pastry stick to the greaseproof paper!
Good news! There is now a multitude of plant-based fats that will straightforwardly work in your gluten-free plant-based baking. Pure, Flora and supermarkets’ own brand spreads are very good in baking cakes and biscuits. Some recipes specifically need a hard fat, Trex and Coconut block are good alternatives to try. TIP: you can make steamed suet sponges plant-based and gluten free if you buy vegetarian suet coated in rice flour – available in some supermarkets and online. Alternatively freeze a block of Trex or Coconut Block, grate it and toss it in gluten free flour at home to do the same job.
The Best Plant-based Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
Recipe From: Gimmesomeoven
Time: Give yourself a good hour to 90 mins, sometimes it needs a bit longer in the oven as a larger cake. It will need to cool completely before you add the icing.
Servings: This recipe will make 2 x 9inch or 3 x 8inch cakes for layering. A double recipe makes a generous 30 cm x 24 cm tray bake that serves 20 (IKEA roasting tin!). Unless you are filling and covering 3 layers, you will probably only need ½ of the frosting recipe!
- 340g or 2 ½ cups of Gluten Free Plain Flour
- 1tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
- 1 ¼ tsp bicarbonate of Soda
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- Pinch of ground clove
- Pinch of ground ginger
- 500g peeled and grated carrot
- 200g granulated sugar
- 200g light brown sugar
- 4 ‘flax eggs’ – ¼ cup of ground flax seed with ¾ cup of water combined for 10 mins until thick (or equivalent of 6 eggs of egg replacer)
- 190ml or ¾ cup of sunflower or vegetable oil
(you can add an optional cup of chopped pecans, walnuts or sultanas as you require)
Plant-based ‘Cream Cheese Frosting’
Unless you are filling and layering a full 3 layers, you will only need ½ of this recipe (it does keep well in the fridge for next time though!)
- 1kg icing sugar
- 300g plant-based margarine
- 50g plant-based hard fat such as coconut oil, softened/melted
- 3 tbsp plant-based milk
- 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp Lemon Juice
- Pinch of fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line your baking tins with parchment paper or just grease liberally. Prepare the carrots by peeling and grating them.
Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar and flax eggs to a bowl of a stand mixer/hand beater or food processor and process until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With processor running, add oil in a steady stream. Process until egg mixture is light in colour and well emulsified, about 20 more seconds.
Transfer egg mixture to the large bowl with the carrots and flour. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture until thoroughly combined. If using nuts, stir them in until combined.
Pour batter evenly into the prepared tin(s). Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, about:
- 30-35 minutes for the tray-bake baking tin
- 25-30 minutes for the two 9-inch round cake tins, or
- 18-23 minutes for the three 8-inch round cake tins
Let cake cool completely in the tin(s) on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen. Remove cake, if transferring to a different serving platter, and frost as desired.
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor or with hand beaters, and mix until smooth and combined. If the frosting is too thick, add in some extra milk to thin. If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar to thicken. It should be nice and thick like a traditional cream cheese frosting. It will harden a bit as it chills.
If you are making a cake with layers spread a 2cm thick layer of frosting between each layer and then put as much frosting on top as you like. If you are making it tray bake style then just frost the top with as much frosting as you like!
Don’t forget to read through our Blog about Plant Based Bbqs to make the most of the Summer Get togethers!
Plant Based Foods