This Vegan Carrot Cake + Orange-infused Frosting isn't your traditional version of carrot cake. Not only is it completely vegan, fluffy, + moist, but it's also loaded with shredded carrots, orange zest, pecan/walnuts, pineapple, and a ton of warm, fall spices that create one decadent flavor. Topped with a creamy vegan cream cheese orange-infused frosting and sprinkles of chopped nuts. A definite crowd-pleasing treat for the holiday season.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lightly grease and line with parchment paper the following cake pans: ONE 8-inch round cake pan, ONE 6-inch cake pan, and ONE 4-inch cake pan. **NOTE: You can also do THREE 8-inch cake pans if that's what you have on hand!**
In a large bowl, add the flour, pure cane sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, ground ginger, orange zest, and sea salt and whisk together until well combined.
Add shredded carrot to the dry ingredients and mix well until fully incorporated.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the applesauce, almond milk, vanilla, maple syrup and coconut oil and set aside.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix together well using a rubber spatula, until fully combined. Gently fold in chopped nuts and diced pineapples. **NOTE: Don't Over-Mix!**
Pour batter evenly into all three cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean in the middle. **NOTE: Smaller cakes will bake sooner than larger one, so keep your eyes on all cakes after the first 20 minutes or so.**
Once cakes are fully baked, remove them from the oven and let cool completely on a cooling rack, about 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the frosting.
Add the cashews to a high-powered blender along with the Almond milk, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and pinch of sea salt. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides if need. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer (attached with a paddle), beat the butter and shortening on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Add the vegan cream cheese (cashew mixture) to the butters and mix until light and fluffy.
Turning the mixer on low, slowly add the powered sugar (1/2 the amount), orange juice, and vanilla, mixing them together until well combined. Add the remaining powered sugar and mix until well combined and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. **NOTE: If the frosting is too thick, add additional orange juice (1 Tsp at a time); if it’s too thin, add additional powered sugar (1 Tbsp at a time). Wallah!
Once cakes have cooled, using a large knife (or cake slicer), slice a thin layer of cake off the tops of each cake to create a flat surface.
Place first cake layer on your cake stand and evenly cover the top with frosting. Now, top with 2nd layer and evenly cover the top with the same frosting.
Once fully layered, add remaining frosting atop entire cake and spread it over the tops and sides of cake, evenly.
Garnish sides and tops of cake with chopped nuts, if desired.
Slice and serve!
SHREDDED CARROTS: If needed, using a food processor shred the carrots until completely minced.
CHOPPED NUTS: You can use your favorite nuts, which include pecans, walnuts, etc. In addition, you can add raisins and/or coconut flakes if desired.
OIL: Instead of coconut oil, you can also use vegetable oil, if preferred.
SOAKED CASHEWS: To best soak cashews, add 1 cup of cashews to a bowl or measuring cup and cover with cold water, sealing the top with plastic wrap and leaving it out (at room temp.) overnight. When ready to use, drain and rinse.
STORAGE: Keep leftover cake tightly wrapped using plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 week.