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triple layer vegan carrot cake with candied lemons and pecans on top

Vegan Carrot Cake

Mary
This triple layer vegan carrot cake with tangy cashew "cream cheese frosting" is a dream come true! The cake layers are a one bowl recipe and turn out perfectly moist and lightly spiced every time. Not to mention that the frosting is delicious and oh so easy to make - just throw everything into a blender! To make things even easier, make the frosting the night before so that it has plenty of time to thicken before frosting your cake. This makes one 6" or 7" triple layered naked cake.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Assembly Time 5 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Baking, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8 people

Equipment

  • high speed blender or food processor
  • three 6" or 7" round pans

Ingredients
  

Cake

  • 2 ¼ cup flour all-purpose
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ cup cane sugar or sugar of choice
  • 1 cup vegan milk of choice I use oat milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ½ cup vegetable oil or other light tasting oil I use grapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups grated carrots

Frosting

  • 2 cups raw cashews soaked, drained, and rinsed
  • ¾ cup vegan milk of choice I use oat milk
  • 5 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • finely grated zest of one lemon (optional)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice add less or more to taste
  • ½ tsp salt
  • cup cane sugar or sugar of choice

Assembly

  • candied lemon slices (optional)
  • ½ cup toasted pecan halves

Instructions
 

Frosting

  • Soak the cashews in a bowl for 30 minutes by pouring over enough boiling water to cover the cashews. Drain and rinse the cashews with cold water.
  • Blend the frosting: Add soaked cashews and the rest of the frosting ingredients (milk, coconut oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, and granulated sugar) into a high-speed blender. Pulse a few times to start incorporating the ingredients together and then blend until very smooth. This may take a while, depending on your blender. It takes me about 5 minutes of blending.
  • Taste: Don't forget to taste the frosting as you go! If you like a more tangy frosting, add some more lemon juice. For more sweetness, add some more sugar.
  • Chill: Scrape out the contents into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight. If you’re in a hurry, chill in the freezer for about 1 hour. This is important as the oils in the frosting will become cold and help the frosting firm up. The frosting will thicken considerably. Make sure that the frosting is thick before you start frosting the cake.

Cake Layers

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F)
  • Grease three 6” or 7” cake pans with vegetable oil. I used pie tins because they were the only round pans I had on hand. Cut out circles from parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pans. I did this by folding a piece of parchment paper into a long triangle and cutting it to fit the radius of the pan. Unfold, and you have a perfect fit for the bottom of the pan!
  • Make a buttermilk by mixing together the milk and vinegar. Let sit for five minutes.
  • Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cane sugar, and salt). Make a large well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
  • Make the batter: Into the well, add the milk and vinegar mixture, applesauce, oil, and vanilla. Start mixing together all of the liquid ingredients, then slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet and mix it all together. Mix just until the batter is almost all smooth, with some lumps remaining. Add the shredded carrots and mix just until everything is incorporated. Do not overmix.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans. Smooth the tops and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When a toothpick comes out clean, the cakes are ready.
  • Cool: let the cakes cool in their pans completely before frosting. Once cool, flip the pans onto a wire rack until assembly. Trim the edges evenly if needed.

Assembly

  • Stack the cake: place the first cake layer on the serving plate and spread one third of the frosting onto the layer. Make sure the frosting is spread evenly to the edges. Place the second layer on top. Spread a third of the frosting evenly onto the second layer. Place the third layer bottom side up on top and spread the last of the frosting on top.
  • Decorate with candied lemon slices (recipe linked in notes), toasted pecans, or any other way you prefer!
  • Slice and serve! This cake is best served fresh but it will keep well in the fridge for a day or two.

Notes

  • This cake is best eaten fresh, but it keeps well in the fridge for a day or two and becomes more moist the longer it sits. The longer the cake sits in the fridge, the more the frosting disappears as it soaks into the cake.
  • The key to a super smooth frosting is to be patient with your blender! Use the pulse setting and don't be afraid to stop the blender and push the frosting down with a rubber spatula.
  • Adjust the tang and sweetness of your frosting according to your own personal preference. You're the boss here!
  • Find the recipe for candied lemon slices here.
Keyword Cake, carrot cake, dairy free, vegan