The inside of a Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream

Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream (Gluten-Free)

The ultimate Spring cake, this Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream has two layers of fluffy spiced carrot and walnut sponge spread thickly with orange buttercream. Decorated with homemade carrots for an easy vegan and gluten-free show-stopper.

Carrot cake has been on my to-bake list for a very long time. After cupcakes, cookies, and my favourite DIY Bundt-tin cake, it’s time for a slice (or two) of carrot cake. This one is easy to make in one bowl before being baked in two 6-inch cake tins and decorating with a simple but oh-do-fluffy orange flavoured buttercream and homemade little carrots.

Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream on a wooden cake stand
Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream

What makes this cake so special?

This carrot cake is a great cake to make as it’s:

  • Light, fluffy and tender
  • Packed with warming spices
  • Filled with grated carrot and nutty walnut pieces
  • Decorated with a fresh and zesty orange buttercream
  • Easy to make in one bowl with very little prep needed
  • Fun to decorate with homemade buttercream carrots
  • An easy show-stopper for Easter and all year round
  • It’s delicious

If you are ready to make this cake right away, skip ahead to the recipe card. Or, let’s first discuss the ingredients and method in more detail.

Cutting into a Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream
Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream

What ingredients do I need for this cake?

The carrot cake is a mix of:

  • Plant-based milk: any milk will do here like oat or almond.
  • Lemon juice: this mixes with the milk to curdle and form a buttermilk which binds the cake batter (as we don’t use eggs, this is important).
  • Sunflower oil: or you can use melted and cooled coconut oil. This adds a light and fluffy tender texture to the sponge cake. You can also use a light olive oil, too.
  • Coconut sugar: or regular white caster or golden caster sugar will also work. I love the rich flavour and colour of coconut sugar, though.
  • Vanilla extract: for a lovely vanilla favour to the sponges.
  • Plain or GF plain flour: keeps the carrot cake light and fluffy. If you are using GF flour, make sure it’s a 1:1 baking blend with xantham gum. I also like half spelt half white or half buckwheat half white flour would be great here.
  • Baking powder and bicarbonate of soda: for the rise.
  • Spices: ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg combine for the tastiest and sweetest cake.
  • Salt: to bring together the flavours.
  • Carrot: peel and grate your carrot and weigh out 100g. No need to squeeze the carrot to release any juices, though.
  • Walnuts: work so well with carrot cake, just make sure you chop them small so that you can slice the cake easily (large pieces of nut will cause cake slices to be uneven and messy). You can swap the walnuts for pecans or swap for raisins for a nut-free option.
Half cut open Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream
Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream

As for the decoration, we need:

  • Softened vegan butter: whenever you make buttercream, it’s important that the butter is softened. This means leaving the butter at room temperature for 1-2 hours, but you don’t want it to be warm.
  • Icing sugar: or powdered sugar to make the buttercream sweet and smooth.
  • Plant-based milk: as above, any milk will do to create the best buttercream texture.
  • Orange: either you can use the zest of a fresh orange or you can use orange extract (which comes in the same form as vanilla extract).
  • Turmeric or orange food gel: you can use either method to colour the buttercream for the carrots. I like to use turmeric, but not too much, and don’t worry it won’t taste of turmeric. Or check that your food gel is vegan friendly. Food gels are better than liquid colouring as they are a much stronger concentration, meaning you need less. Too much excess liquid (in the form of colouring) can split the buttercream.
  • Matcha or green food gel: I love the vibrant colour of matcha tea powder (and it doesn’t make the buttercream taste of green tea) or you can use green food gel as above. I like the matcha from Perfect Ted (you can save 10% with code Nourishingamy).
Lifting out a slice of Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream
Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream
A fork into a slice of Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream
Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream

How do I make this Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream?

As with all my cakes, I’ve kept the method as simple as possible and you only need one bowl:

  • Whisk together the milk and lemon juice: and let sit for 5 minutes to curdle.
  • Add in the oil, sugar and vanilla: and whisk again.
  • Sift the flour, raising agents and spices: and add the salt directly into the bowl of wet ingredients.
  • Whisk till almost no specks of flour remain: to prevent over-mixing the batter.
  • Fold in the carrots and walnuts: till fully combined.
  • Divide between two cake tins: and smooth over the top.
  • Bake till golden and risen: 22 to 24 minutes then cool for 10 minutes.
  • Lift out the tins: to cool fully.
  • Mix together the buttercream ingredients: till light and fluffy.
  • Save some buttercream for the orange and green decoration: and place in small piping bags.
  • Place one cake on a plate or serving dish and spread on the buttercream:  smooth the top.
  • Add the second cake on top: and spread the rest of the buttercream all over the cake.
  • Pipe the orange frosting in triangles: to make the carrots.
  • Pipe on the green frosting in small lines: for the carrot tops.
  • Decorate with walnuts and flowers: or leave it plain on top.
  • Chill the cakes: to set the frosting and make it easier to slice into.
  • Slice the cake: and enjoy.
A slice of Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream on a plate
Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream

Is this cake gluten-free and nut-free?

If you use GF flour then this cake is gluten-free and for a nut-free option, use raisins instead of the walnuts in the cake or skip them all together.

How long will this cake last?

Once frosted, this cake will keep for 2-3 days in a sealed container in the fridge, although best to eat at room temperature. You can freeze the unfrosted cakes for up to 1 month, too. Allow them to defrost and decorate as above.

The top of a Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream
Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream

What other cakes can I make?

I hope you will love this easy Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream and if you are looking for more cakes and bakes, how about my:

Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream (Gluten-Free)

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

The ultimate Spring cake, this Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream has two layers of fluffy spiced carrot and walnut sponge spread thickly with orange buttercream. Decorated with homemade carrots for an easy vegan and gluten-free show-stopper.

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 120ml plant-based milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 60ml sunflower oil, or melted and cooled coconut oil
  • 100g coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 210g plain or GF plain flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 medium-large carrot, peeled and grated (100g)
  • 50g walnuts, chopped small
  • For the Buttercream:
  • 125g vegan butter, softened
  • 350g icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp plant-based milk
  • Zest of ½ orange or ½ tsp orange essence
  • ½ – 1 tsp turmeric, or orange food gel
  • ½ tsp matcha powder, or green food gel
  • Extra walnuts, crushed

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160Fan/180*C and line two 6-inch round cake tins.
  2. Add the milk and lemon juice to a large mixing bowl and leave for 5 minutes to curdle. Now add in the oil, sugar and vanilla and whisk till smooth.
  3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and add the salt. Whisk till almost no specks of flour remain.
  4. Switch to a spoon or spatula and fold in the carrots and walnuts and stir until just combined, do not over-mix.
  5. Divide evenly between the two tins and smooth over the tops spreading the batter out; the batter will be quite thick. Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until risen and springy to touch. An inserted skewer will come out clean.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes then remove from the tins to cool fully on a wire rack. If the cakes have a slight dome, trim off the tops to make the cakes flat.
  7. Make the buttercream: add the softened butter to a bowl and beat using a handheld or freestanding electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add in the icing sugar, plant-based milk and orange zest or flavouring and beat until light and fluffy.
  8. Spoon 40g of buttercream into a small bowl and stir in the turmeric or 1 drop of orange food gel. Spoon 30g of buttercream into a second bowl and stir in the matcha or 1 drop of green food colouring. Place both colours in separate piping bags and snip off the ends to make a small opening.
  9. Place one cake on a flat surface (board or plate) and spread over ¼ of the buttercream. Top with the second cake and continue to cover the cake with the buttercream, making a smooth or rough surface round the edge. Pipe on the orange carrots and the green carrot tops around the edge of the cake. Sprinkle with crushed walnuts.
  10. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes (to allow the frosting to set) and then slice and enjoy. Leftover cake will keep for 2-3 days in a sealed container in the fridge, allow to rest at room temperature before eating. Unfrosted cakes will keep in the freezer, wrapped well, for up to 1 month.
The inside of a Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream
Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream

I look forward to hearing what you think of this Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream so please let me know in the comments below. If you do make this cake, I’d love to see so please tag me in your creations – I’m @nourishing.amy on Instagram and use the hashtag #nourishingamy. I’m also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest  – please say hello!

With carrot cake love x

8 thoughts on “Vegan Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream (Gluten-Free)

    • nourishingamy says:

      yes of course, you can! The recipe should make 10-12 cupcakes and they’d need less cooking time, check at 15-17 mins I’d say then they made need slightly more 🙂 let me know!

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