If you’ve got a plant-based person in your life, I’m here with the perfect treat for them – a delicious, vegan carrot cake recipe on the blog this week.
I’ve still got that weekend feeling as the kids have an inset day from school tomorrow so my wife Sarah and I are taking the day off work to spend with them at Whipsnade Zoo. Daughters 1 & 2 were away with Sarah’s mum for half term and we missed them like crazy. They had a whale of a time, of course, but their baby sister spent the whole week wandering round the house looking for them and not quite understanding the difference between FaceTime and watching TV. I had the girls all to myself yesterday with two of their cousins and my bro-in-law so we turned the living room into a dressing up den and our lovely, patient dog (pictured above) was roped in too.
There’s been a lot of pink and red baking this week. On Valentine’s Day, Sarah requested red velvet chocolate fondant puddings so I knocked some up after dinner and they worked a treat – I’ll share the recipe at some stage once I’ve tweaked the quantities a bit as I *accidentally* made a batch of eight! This weekend I also made a carrot cake for my sister-in-law using the best recipe I’ve ever found, by my friend Luis Troyano and available here. As I’ve mentioned before, the only changes I make to it are to add 100g of chopped walnuts to the mix as I usually cover or decorate it rather than topping it with nuts as in his recipe. For this cake, I just added a touch of pink food colouring to the cream cheese frosting. I’ve done it before adding pureed raspberry for the pink colour but actually the raspberry flavour overpowers slightly as the frosting is perfect as it is. It’s the most delicious cream cheese frosting ever and if the cake is going to be eaten the same day, I’ll always go for a cream cheese frosting.
Carrot cake is so universally popular and one of my most requested cakes. It also happens to be the favourite of our daughters’ nanny, Charlotte. Charlotte did Veganuary this year and has kept it up since, which has been really positive for all our family as we’ve really widened our food choices as a result. I don’t think we could ever go vegan ourselves, but I have huge respect for those who do. We’ve cut our meat consumption down quite a lot this year and have tried so much more vegan cooking for lunches and at least one dinner a week. So if you’ve got a vegan in your life (and if you have, chances are you’ll know all about it!) then treat them to this cake. But even if you don’t have access to a tame vegan, it’s still a cracking good cake and well worth making!
Vegan Carrot Cake
For the cake
- 340g grated carrot
- 200g sultanas
- 100g walnuts
- 150g caster sugar
- 50g soft brown sugar
- 180ml vegetable oil
- 100g plain flour
- 80g wholemeal flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 200g apple sauce
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 green cardamom pods
- zest of 2 oranges
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
For the buttercream
- 250g icing sugar
- 100g vegan spread (I used this one)
- 1tsp vanilla extract
To finish the cake
- 1kg Renshaw ivory fondant
- A little cornflour for rolling fondant (or icing sugar if you don’t have any)
- 300g icing sugar
- chickpea water (i.e. drained from a tin of chick peas)
- Wilton gel colours (available here)
- Line two 8″/20cm sandwich tins with baking parchment – around the insides of the tins too. Preheat the oven to 180oC / fan 160oC / gas mark 4
- Pod the cardomom seeds and grind them down to a powder in a pestle and mortar. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar, stick them in a plastic bag and bash them with a rolling pin until powdery (and then remind yourself to buy a pestle and mortar for next time!)
- Mix together the flours, baking powder, and spices in a bowl and set aside
- Grate the carrot, zest the oranges and roughly chop the walnuts. Add these to another bowl and mix together with the sultanas and vanilla essence
- In a large bowl (you’ll need a few bowls by the way!) beat together the sugars, oil and apple sauce with an electric hand whisk until nice and thick
- Fold the flour and spices into the wet mix with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until smooth, making sure not to leave any dry flour at the bottom of the bowl
- Fold in the remaining ingredients and divide the batter equally between the two sandwich tins. There should be around 700g of mix per tin
- Pop in the oven for 55 minutes. This is a longer bake because we need to dry-out the apple sauce rather than setting eggs
- Take out of the oven and leave to cool for ten minutes in the tins, before turning the cakes out onto a wire rack. Be very gentle as you turn them out as the sponge is much more delicate than one made with eggs
- While the sponges are cooling, make the ‘butter’ cream by mixing the icing sugar, vanilla and vegan spread in a bowl using your (cleaned) electric hand whisk until they thicken-up. This is very simple, but start with your whisk on its lowest setting or you’ll get a face full of icing sugar!
- Take the first cooled sponge, put onto a cake board and smooth a layer of buttercream onto the top. This should be about half of your buttercream. Put the next layer on top and cover the whole cake with the remaining buttercream, smoothing the edges as best as you can so you can put the fondant layer on
- Pop the cake into the fridge for about half an hour – this will firm-up the buttercream, making fondanting easier
- Sprinkle a little cornflour (or icing sugar, but cornflour is better) onto a clean and dry surface and roll-out the fondant to about 13″/32cm in diameter. Roll this onto your rolling pin and gently lay onto the cake (which should be out of the fridge by the way, or you’ll get into all sorts of mischief!)
- Smooth the fondant onto the cake starting with the top and then the sides, and cut off the remaining fondant around the bottom edges
- To decorate, mix around 300g icing sugar with a little chick pea water to get a consistency like royal icing. You may have to add a bit more sugar or water to get the right consistency but persevere
- Depending on your design, colour the royal icing in small bowls with a little Wilton gel and load these into piping bags fitted with icing nozzles as you mix them – they will set if you leave them standing
- Let your imagination run wild and decorate. If you want tips on how to decorate with royal icing, check out my peacock cake post here
- Make a vegan very happy and send me a picture of both the happy vegan and the cake if you do!
Until next week, Happy Baking!