I’m going back to my roots today with this recipe: a gluten free vegan carrot cake. Yep, that’s about as West Coast liberal arts student as it gets. These would go over well at your next PETA meeting or anti-GMO rally. You could use one to woo that cute guy soliciting signatures on a Greenpeace petition, or your favorite heavily tatted barista. I’m just sayin’. The point is, these are unpretentious and beloved by just about everyone on the hippie to hipster spectrum.[Regular people like ’em too, as long as you don’t start yakking about flax goo and vegan shoes the second they take a bite. Easy, tiger. You’ll catch more flies with cake than with vitriol!]
For real, though, I’m not sure what sparked a hankering to make a vegan and gluten-free carrot cake. I mean, I’m not even a vegetarian, let alone a vegan. (Been, there, done that.) If you harangue me about the local, free-range eggs in my fridge through a mouthful of Nutter Butters, I will mock you. But if you’re interested in healthy eating and supporting an environmentally-sound, factory-farm-free food system, welcome! I am on your team and I made a cake for you. Let’s be friends.
Like most of my vegan food adventures, this carrot cake was borne of necessity. I went to the grocery store and they were mysteriously out of half the stuff on my list. This is normal, but it’s always a surprise as to exactly what they’ll be out of. This time, I wanted carrots and arrived to find that all they had was a five-pound bag. An old man next to me glared at the huge bags and crabbed, “I’ll never eat five pounds of carrots before they go all rubbery!” before shuffling away in a huff.
While I shared his sentiments (seriously, how do you sell out of normal-sized bags of conventional and organic carrots, and baby carrots?), I wasn’t deterred. When life gives you a whopping bag of carrots, make carrot cake.
This carrot cake recipe is adapted from Gimme Some Oven, who adapted the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s book, How Can It Be Gluten-Free? I was fairly shocked to see someone replacing four (four!) eggs with flax egg substitutes, but you know what? It absolutely works. I love those humbling moments when people do something I’d absolutely advise against, and it turns out perfectly. The resulting cake is super moist and keeps for days in the fridge.
Which, by the way, refrigeration is an important note if you’re planning to share these at an outdoor gathering. The one downside of vegan, gluten-free goodies is that they deteriorate quickly in the sun. Keep ’em cool if you can, preferably refrigerating until just before serving.
As for the cream, I first got keyed into coconut whipped cream by Oh,Ladycakes. Go check out that recipe. Dreamy, right? And just three ingredients! It took me a long time to get around to trying this, but don’t make the same mistake. Even if you don’t make the carrot cake, definitely try out the coconut whipped cream. You’ll be dipping and spreading and topping with it left and right–on everything from shortcakes to berries to milkshakes. Tasty vegan goodness all around, just waiting for its debut in your kitchen.
- 1/4 c. ground flaxseeds + 3/4 c. water, prepared as for flax egg*
- 1 lb. grated carrots
- 3.5 oz. tapioca starch
- 3 oz. brown rice flour
- 3 oz. sorghum flour
- 4.5 oz. (3/4 c.) brown sugar
- 4 oz. (1/2 c.) sugar
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ginger
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 5 oz. (3/4 c.) oil
- 3 oz. (1/2 c.) raisins, soaked in 2 oz. (1/4 c.) warmed almond milk until plump
- coconut whipped cream (recipe follows) and 4 oz. toasted and chopped walnuts, for topping
- Line the bottom of a 10" x 15" jellyroll pan with parchment or a Silpat and set aside. Preheat oven to 350F.
- Whisk together flours and sugars, xanthan gum, leavenings, spices and salt in a mixing bowl. Pour in flax egg mixture, oil, raisins, and their soaking liquid and stir until a fairly thick batter forms. Mix in grated carrots until thoroughly combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely before frosting with coconut whipped cream and topping with walnuts.
- *To prepare a flaxseed "egg" mixture, combine the flaxseed meal and water in a small saucepan on the stove. Cook a few minutes over medium heat until mixture thickens into a gel. Remove from heat and allow to cool before using. Alternately, place mixture in bottom of a coffee cup and cook on 50% power in the microwave for about 2 minutes until a gel forms. (Keep a close eye on it to avoid boiling over.)
- 2 14-oz. cans coconut milk, refrigerated overnight upside-down
- 2-4 Tbsp. agave syrup or sugar to taste
- pinch of salt
- Open coconut milk cans. Milk should have separated into a solid chunk of coconut cream at the bottom and coconut water on top. If yours has not separated, try again with a different brand. Pour off coconut water and reserve for another use.
- Scoop coconut cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat for two minutes with a pinch of salt, scraping down sides occasionally, until light and fluffy. Sweeten to taste with a few Tbsp. of agave syrup or granulated sugar.
- Use coconut cream to frost completely cooled cake, and store in the fridge. If it's a warm day, be particular vigilant about taking it out of the fridge only just as you're about to serve it, as it can melt quickly.