Carrot Cake

the completed cakeI am not a vegan, but I often get asked to make things with no animal products in them. This carrot cake is one of them.

For my inspiration, I turned to Gaia’s Kitchen,” a cookbook written by my colleague and friend Julia Ponsonby. Julia has compiled this cookbook and her subsequent book, “Gaia’s Feasts“, with recipes gathered from students, teachers, mentors, friends and volunteers at the college, as well as creations of her own. Because Schumacher has a vegetarian kitchen, all of the recipes are vegetarian, and many have suggestions for how to alter them for special diets (e.g. egg free, gluten free, dairy free, vegan…). 

carrots & apples

A few of the main ingredients

Unfortunately, this carrot cake recipe doesn’t have any such instruction, but with such a good base recipe, it’s hard to go wrong! A few tweaks, and my vegan carrot cake is ready to go.

The Author is also not a vegan. In fact, his last book was about a chef who cooked various unbelievable (but thoroughly researched and authentic) meals, many of which the Author wanted to try himself, and some of which he did. My husband is what you would call a voracious omnivore. So I thought he might like a piece of carrot cake.

“No!” He reared back in alarm. “That’s not that vegan stuff, is it?!”

“Oh, just try it,” I said, and quickly popped a piece into his mouth.

As I was walking away, he called to me hopefully, “Well, I wouldn’t say no to some more!”

I think we can count this as a success.

Carrot Cake, Vegan Version

(adapted, very liberally, from Gaia’s Kitchen, by Julia Ponsonby)

  • 500g (17 oz./2.25 cups) flour 
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 400g (14 oz./ just under 2 cups) sugar
  • 280g (10 oz./1.5 cups) brown sugar
  • 450 ml (15 oz) sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 120 ml (4 oz.) warm water
  • 4 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 700g (24 oz.) carrots, grated
  • 450g (1 lb.) apples, peeled, cored and chopped small (note: I started with 650g and ended up with 450g after processing them)
  • filling (recipe below)
  • icing: mix juice from 1/2 lemon and 1/2 cup of icing sugar together till smooth

Preheat oven to 170C/350F. Grease two 9″ cake tins and and line bottoms with parchment.

Sift all dry ingredients together and set aside.

Whisk together the sugars and oil, then add the water and vinegar and continue whisking until well incorporated.

Add the carrots and apples to the sugar/oil mixture and mix thoroughly with a spoon. Add the dry ingredients and stir in thoroughly so that there are no hidden pockets of dry or wet ingredients.

Divide the batter between the two cake tins. and bake for approximately 50 minutes. The cakes are done when the centre is firm and the edges have pulled away slightly from the pan. You can also use a toothpick to test for doneness; insert it into the centre of the cake, and if it comes out clean the cake is ready. Cool in the pans on a wire rack.

done

The cake is ready to come out of the oven.

When the cakes are thoroughly cool, remove from each pan by putting a large plate over the top and turning the whole thing upside down. (You may need to first run a palette knife around the inside edge of the tin to free the cake from the tins.) Rap on the bottom of the tin – when it sounds hollow, the cake has left the tin and is on the plate. Remove the parchment from the bottom of the cake and put it right side up on your cake platter. (If you are freezing the layers for future use, leave the parchment on.) 

ready for icing

Putting the bottom side up makes a nice flat surface for frosting!

Frost the bottom layer with the filling. Put on the top layer, parchment side up, then remove the parchment. Pour the icing over the top, and gently nudge it to the edges with a spatula or palette knife. Decorate with walnuts, or edible flowers if you have any growing!

Vegan filling

  • 80g macadamia nuts, water to cover, soaked overnight
  • 40g (1/4 cup) icing sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 3 TB coconut oil

Drain the macadamia nuts and put all the ingredients except the coconut oil into an immersion blender or food processor. Whiz the heck out of it until it is smooth. (A Vitamix or powerful blender would be best, really. If you have one, use it for the best results, but for folks like me, a bog-standard blender will do fine.) You may need to add a touch of water to move things along, but be sparing or it will get too runny. When it is fairly smooth, add the coconut oil and process some more. It is done when it is fluffy and as smooth as you can get it!

filling

Not as smooth as I’d like, but still delicious!

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