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Vegan, gluten-free carrot cake

Although the Easter classics don’t tend to provide a great deal of nutrition, here is a recipe packed full of beneficial ingredients that won’t sacrifice taste or exclude vegan and gluten-free eaters.

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So what's in it for you, other than a delicious sweet treat? This Easter classic has been given a slight twist to provide you with a little extra goodness...

Flaxseeds 

These little seeds are packed full of goodness including protein, fibre, B vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, iron and calcium. They are also a good vegan source of omega 3 fatty acids, which are great for heart health and reducing inflammation in the body.  

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is full of antioxidants, which help to combat, reduce, and prevent damage within cells and in the body. Studies have also shown that this spice has anti-inflammatory capabilities, and has positive effects on blood sugar levels, helping to prevent blood-sugar spikes (which can cause oxidative stress and inflammation in the body) after a meal. 

Carrots

Lastly, carrots contain both types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre is beneficial for stabilising blood sugar by slowing the digestion of nutrients including carbohydrates. It also feeds good gut bacteria and has a positive effect on cholesterol levels. Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, prevents constipation and protects against bowel disease. Carrots are also rich in beta-carotene, a pro-vitamin A compound (which is essential for healthy vision, immune system and growth) and potassium, an important mineral for healthy blood pressure. 

Prep time: 15 minutes 

Cook time: 45 minutes 

Total: 1 hour

Ingredients

Cake

  • 6 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 22.5 Tbsp or 335ml of water 
  • 80ml coconut oil (liquid - or any other neutral oil) 
  • 60ml maple syrup 
  • ~235g applesauce (unsweetened) 
  • 110g brown sugar* (or coconut sugar) 
  • 50g cane sugar* (or coconut sugar) 
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt 
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 180-240 ml almond milk (unsweetened - or any other non-dairy unsweetened milk) 
  • ~165 g loosely packed grated carrot 
  • 168 g almond flour* (or meal) 
  • 150g gluten-free flour (such as blender-blitzed gluten-free oat flour) 
  • 87g chopped raw walnuts* (if preferred, omit, or sub 1/2 cup (70g) raisins) 

Icing  

  • 280g room soft/temperature vegan butter (Not spreadable, stick/blocks of vegan butter are best) 
  • 567.5 g container vegan cream cheese (slightly softened, leave out of the fridge for an hour) 
  • 750-1250g sifted powdered sugar 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 176 C (or 350 F). Then prepare your 2 x 8-inch or 3 x 6-inch round pans with coconut oil or a cooking spray that is vegan. Then dust them with a gluten-free flour (such as blitzed gluten-free oats). Once dusted, shake the excess out and set aside.
  2. Mix the flaxseed meal and 335ml of water to make ‘flax eggs’. Then add the oil and maple syrup, whisk to combine. Add the applesauce, brown and cane sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon and whisk together. 
  3. Add about 180ml of almond milk to start and stir. Then add the grated carrots while stirring. Next, stir in the almond flour and gluten-free flour. At this point, your batter should be thick but pourable. If you need to loosen the batter, add the remaining milk in small increments at a time until the desired consistency is reached. If you would like to include walnuts, add them in and stir at this stage. 
  4. Evenly pour out the batter into the number of pans you have chosen. Place in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until they are golden brown in colour. Using a toothpick, check how done they are by sticking it into the middle of the cakes. If the toothpick comes out clean, it is done. The cake should not feel spongy, but firm, so don’t be afraid of over baking. 
  5. Once done, remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to rest for 15-20 minutes. To remove, slide a knife around the edges of the tin and then flip the tin over onto cooling racks. Allow to cool all the way through. If in a rush, place them into the fridge or freezer until very cool.  
  6. While cooling, start making the vegan cream cheese frosting by beating or whisking softened vegan butter, adding vegan cream cheese and mix until you reach a smooth consistency. 
  7. Next, add sifted powdered sugar in small increments until thick and spreadable while reaching desired sweetness. 

Notes:

This delicious cake is best eaten fresh but you can store leftovers at room temperature, covered, for 2-3 days in the refrigerator if frosted for 3-4 days, or covered well in the freezer for several weeks. When taking the frosted cake out of the refrigerator, allow it to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes or so to allow the frosting to become more tender. If taking the cake out of the freezer, allow it to completely thaw before serving. 

And if cake isn't enough, how about these vegan hot cross buns?