Vegan carrot cake with cashew frosting

Vegan carrot cake with cashew frosting

vegan carrot cake close up

I’ve conquered one of my ‘fears’ today and finally tackled a proper, adult-size cake 🙂 . My layer-cake phobia hasn’t exactly been diagnosed, but I am somehow way more comfortable making small, minified desserts like cupcakes, tartlets, chocolate cups and building a big ass cake terrifies me slightly (or used to).

There was definitely an element of self-preservation in all this reluctance to ‘go big’ as individual desserts are more portable and easier to give away and, given my predilection for sweet stuff, I should not be left alone with a massive layer cake within sight 😉 .

With the festive period coming up, however, and seeing that a layered cake looks so much more impressive as a centrepiece, I decided to bite the bullet and made a layered gluten-free vegan carrot cake based on this recipe of mine that so many of you love.

As I’m not too keen on margarine frosting, I frosted it with an oil-free ‘buttercream’ made from raw cashews, but if you can find a good vegan butter where you live, you could make a standard buttercream frosting instead. Whatever works best for you. Now that I’ve broken the ice, I have a few other cake ideas floating around in my head and so expect more cake wizardry from me soon 😉 .

vegan carrot cake applying frosting

vegan carrot cake top down

vegan carrot cake on a stand

vegan carrot cake slice

16.5 cm / 6.5"
30 min
90 min
16.5 cm / 6.5"
30 min
90 min
CASHEW ‘BUTTERCREAM’ (make it a day ahead if you can!)

  • 300 g / 2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 180 ml / ¾ cup coconut cream (separated from a tin of coconut milk)
  • juice of ½ lime or lemon, adjust to taste
  • 120 ml / ½ cup maple syrup or other liquid sweetener
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
  • 4 tsp agar flakes activated in 90 ml / 6 tbsp water
  • chopped hazelnuts, for decoration

Wet ingredients

  • 180 g / 1½ cups (packed!) carrots, coarsely grated
  • 180 g / 1 cup demerara sugar
  • 210 ml / ¾ cup + 1/8 cup apple sauce*
  • 120 ml / ½ cup olive oil
  • chia (or flax) egg

Dry ingredients

  • 180 g / 1½ cups buckwheat flour
  • 60 g / ¼ cup + 1/8 cup rice flour
  • 15 g / 2 tbsp cornflour / cornstarch
  • 1 level tsp baking soda
  • 1 level tsp GF baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger


CASHEW ‘BUTTERCREAM’ (make it a day ahead if you can!)

  1. Drain and rinse soaked cashews. Chop them roughly and divide them into 4 portions (this isn’t necessary if you are using a Vitamix or an equally powerful blender).
  2. Put the first portion of the chopped cashews into a blender with all of the coconut cream and maple syrup. Process until smooth, add the second portion of cashews and again, process until smooth. Continue in the same manner until you’ve used up all of the cashews.
  3. Add vanilla seeds and season with lime or lemon juice to taste. If using a blender that isn’t as powerful as a Vitamix or a Blendtec, make small circles on the surface of the mixture (in the direction of the turning blades) with a spatula. Don’t dip the spatula in too deep as you don’t want to accidentally touch the turning blades. This simple trick will help your blender process the heavy mixture by preventing air pockets from forming under the mixture’s surface.
  4. Activate 4 tsp of agar flakes (equivalent to 1 and 1/3 tsp of agar powder) in 90 ml / 6 tbsp water. Make sure you simmer the mixture (stirring frequently) for about 10-15 minutes until the flakes almost dissolve or otherwise the agar will not work. Pour activated agar into the cashew mixture and blend well. Place the mixture in the fridge for a while (or overnight if you can) to thicken.


  1. Set the oven to 175° C. Grease two 16.5 cm / 6.5 in cake pans with a little olive oil. If you only have one springform tin of that size, grease it instead.
  2. Prepare chia (or flax) eggs (you’ll need 1½ portions) as per the instructions here.
  3. In a bowl mix together all wet ingredients. In another bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.
  4. Slowly tip the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and incorporate everything together. Since this is a gluten-free batter, you do not need to worry about overmixing, so mix everything really well.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between two cake pans. If you only have one springform tin, measure out half of the batter and place it in the tin. Bake, on the middle shelf, for about 45 mins. It’s done when a toothpick comes out fairly clean. Once the first cake finishes baking, place the second one in the oven and bake for the same amount of time. I don’t recommend baking both cakes at once as you may end up with uneven results. If using a single springform tin, let the first cake cool down, remove it gently from the tin, clean the tin, grease it and fill with the second half of the batter. Bake for approx. 45 min or until a toothpick comes out fairly clean.


  1. Allow both cakes to cool down completely. Trim the top of one of the cakes with a serrated knife so that the top cake sits better on top.
  2. Put a generous layer of cashew frosting on top of the first cake. Place the second cake on top and frost the top cake and the sides (optional) with more cream.
  3. Decorate with chopped hazelnuts, orange zest and cinnamon.

Volume measurement I use is 1 cup = 240 ml

*To make an apple sauce, peel, core and chop 4 not very sweet apples (I used Granny Smith). Put them in a pot with a cup of water and simmer covered until soft and falling apart. Blend in a blender to get a smooth sauce.

27 g
19 g
5 g
5 g
46 g
*per serving
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5 reviews, 37 comments
The Food Explainer:
Hello Ania, this recipe looks amazing, I want to try it as soon as possible, but I have a question, did you do it in a high speed blender or is it ok to se a hand blender?
Thank you so much in advance for your response and also for sharing incredible recipes!!!
    Thank you, I hope you'll enjoy it. I assume you are referring to the frosting? Unfortunately, you won't be able to achieve the correct texture with a hand held blender, I'm afraid. You need the upright one for the cashews to get silky smooth. Ania
Chciałabym zrobić ten krem do tortu, natomiast strasznie nie lubię (i nie umiem) korzystać z agaru. On zawsze wszystko psuje, jeśli tylko spróbuję go użyć. Czy można by wykorzystać jakiś tradycyjny zagęszczacz, śmietan fix czy inne cudo?
    Mysle, ze tak ale nie probowalam wiec nie wiem w jakiej proporcji. Proponuje ten krem, ktory jest podobny ale uproszczony i nie wymaga zadnych zageszczaczy jesli uzyje sie dokladnie tyle pylnow (nie wiecej) ile w przepisie. W razie czego mozna dodac tez 2-3 lyzki oleju kokosowego (najlepiej takiego bez smaku) by usztywnic. Pozdrawiam, Ania
Nicole Iriondo:
Looks so yummy, can I substitute buckwheat flour for año other flour?
    Sure, you can use all purpose wheat flour if you aren't gluten-free, otherwise a tried and tasted GF flour mix. Ania
If I use agar powder instead of Agar flakes, how much water should I use to activate it?
    Same amount of water but only 1.3 tsp powder (as it is 3 times as strong as flakes). Ania
Elizabeth Crewe:
Your recipes always work out perfectly and they're always so in tune with my tastebuds, that the hardest part is ust choosing a recipe!
The carrot cake was sublime! I subbed the apple puree for unsweetened tinned pineapple and added 1/3 cup of walnuts.
I made the frosting in a blender with 250g tofu, 150g of soaked cashews, 1/4 cup of soaked green buckwheat (it works a treat!), juice of 2 lemons, 2 tsp honey and vanilla.
    Thank you, Elizabeth! I am delighted to hear that and your frosting does sound lovely. x Ania
Looks amazing. I cant find agar flakes only the powder . Can i use more agar powder and how much. Thanks
This is worth a try as it looks good.
    Hi Geraldine,
    Powder is 3 times as powerful as flakes according to the Internet. You could also try this frosting instead - I simplified it a lot since that other recipe. Good luck! Ania
Hi Ania, I made the vegan buttercream yesterday and it turnt out so so yummy, I used it for a different carrot cake recipe from pinterest and it worked out so well together🥕
Gonna make your buttercream everytime now when I need a frosting for cake hehe, thanks a lot 🐣
    I'm delighted to hear that, Linda! Thank you for letting me know! x Ania
Kate Aingee:
It turned out great! I did need the agar agar powder as we live in Mauritius and the icing melted quickly, particularly with the weight of the cake. It lasted for as long as we needed though. Thanks so much for your help.
    My pleasure, Kate! I'm so happy to hear that it turned out so well! Ania
Kate Ainger:
Thanks for the quick response Ania. Yes, I meant replacing the coconut cream in your buttercream recipe with coconut yoghurt. We live in Mauritius and can't buy dairy free yoghurt commercially here, so it's homemade coconut yoghurt. Just about to start now, fingers crossed.....
    Good luck! x Ania
Kate Ainger:
Hi Ania
I'm making this for a birthday cake today. Can I use coconut yoghurt instead of cream do you think?? Thanks so much.
    Hi Kate,
    Do you mean instead of making buttercream or adding it to the buttercream instead of coconut cream? If the first, I think so but you will probably need to sweeten it a touch with icing sugar (to keep it thick) and reinforce with a touch of tapioca starch or corn starch for the same reason. I am also assuming you are talking about a really thick yoghurt like Coyo, for example. If you mean the latter, yes, I also think it should work fine. In fact, if you want a similar but less fussy recipe that doesn't use agar agar, I've simplified it recently for my pumpkin cake (link here). Hope that helps and I hope the cake will go down well! Ania
Hi anja!
Just wondering if the chia seeds are supposed to be measured in cup or spoon?
    Hi Pamela,
    The recipe calls for a chia egg, which is 1 tbsp ground up chia seeds mixed in with 3 tbsp of water (if you want more info please click on the link within recipe ingredients). Hope that helps! Ania
Hi, this recipe looks great and I'm planning on making it tomorrow. I was wondering what should be done different since I'm using all-purpose flour instead of gluten free flours and also how much should I use?
Thank you for your answer.
    Hi Shamina,
    To make it with all-purpose flour simply use 240 g (2 cups) of flour. Hope that helps and that you'll enjoy it. Ania
Poulomi Choudhury:
Hi Ania, I am really looking forward to trying this over the weekend. Just a quick question - I will be using self raising flour instead of the 3 GF flour you use. And I was wondering if I could add some walnuts to the recipe without everything going awry? I have terrible baking skills and I don't want to deviate from your recipe at all if I can help it.
    Hi Poulomi,
    Yes, you can sub buckwheat, rice and corn flour with all purpose flour, but I would refrain from using self-raising flour as it already has some baking powder in it, but the amount of baking powder differs per brand so it will be difficult to know how much extra baking powder is needed. And yes, chopped walnuts in the batter should be fine - just be very gentle when mixing the batter and folding your walnuts in as overmixing will result in gluten activation and a though cake. Hope that helps and let me know how you got on! Ania
      Poulomi Choudhury:
      Wonderful! Thanks so much for the prompt reply. I will definitely share the outcome. :)
        Great! Hope it works out well. :) Ania
Emily Kiara:
hi can i use agar powder instead?
    Hi Emily,
    I've never used it as I cannot get it here, but I don't see why not. Just follow the instructions on the packet (I'm not sure it needs activation in the same way the flakes do) and use 1/3 of the amount of agar flakes, I would use 1 heaped teaspoon in this instance. Hope that helps! Ania
This looks so amazing and I would love to try but can I make it in a regular size and just double the recipe? Thanks!!
    Hi Molli,
    Not sure what you mean by 'regular size' cake, but if you mean 2lb/1kg tin, use this recipe instead Hope that answers your question, let me know if not! Ania
OMG! So yummy! All your recipes are so delicious!
Ania, do you use in all your recipes raw buckwheat flour or already roasted one ( 'kasha')?
    Thanks for kind words, Dariya! I use regular buckwheat flour (shop bought), which is made from raw buckwheat groats as far as I know. Ania
You've outdone yourself with this cake, Ania. It looks fabulous. Thank you for overcoming your fears to share the recipe with us! Hugs to Lupo!
    Aw, thanks so much, Judy! :) I'm so pleased to hear that! Thank you, little Lupo is unrecognisable compared to what we brought home with us 2 weeks ago. She is a rambunctious little kitten :)
Hello Ania,
I absolutely love your recipes. How's the little kitten?:)
I would very much like to do this carrot cake tomorrow (bet it'll take me all day :)) and there is absolutely no way I can get agar agar till then. Can I replace it with something else or just leave it out? Would that be safe for the well-being of the whole masterpiece?
Thank you!
    Hey Daniela,
    So nice to hear that you follow the blog and our kitten story. Lupo is great, super energetic and always hungry, especially in the middle of the night ;) She is soooo incredibly cute though that we forgive her everything :) Cats, eh?
    As for the cake, agar is pretty crucial, I'm afraid as it thickens the cream which would otherwise slide off the cake. If you have a powerful blender you can try making the cream with less coconut cream (liquid), chill it and see how it holds up. It will probably be suitable to frost the top of the cake but not sturdy enough to go in the middle as the weight of the top layer would push it out. Otherwise, you could find a decent margarine or vegan butter and make a simple ice sugar frosting instead.
    Hope that helps,
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine:
This is so pretty and my favorite cake (with CASHEW one of my favorite foods!)
I still need to conquer a big beautiful layer cake too! Never even tried yet :P
    Thanks Rebecca, I'm glad to hear you like the sound of my cake :) I know, it's silly how daunted by this I was and once I made it I realised that it was all in my head...;)
This looks sooo amazing! If I used your vegan carrot cake recipe (not gluten-free) to make layered cake, I guess it will be just as successful?
    Thanks so much, Goda. If you don't want to make it gluten-free, yes, either follow the old recipe although you may need to double or triple it or you could follow this recipe but replace joint cup values of buckwheat flour, rice flour and cornstarch with regular flour (2 + 1/8 cups), that should work too. Hope that helps, Ania
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