I’ve had a dozen versions of carrot cake since going vegan. First, there was the recipe that used so much baking powder to create a fluffy cake that you could taste it in the finished product. There was one that tasted like banana bread. Then there was the tropical version with coconut and pineapple and macadamia nuts from a renowned cookbook I will not name, that was so sickeningly sweet I could barely choke it down. Missing from my life has been a no-frills, simple, traditional carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

For me, this cake hits the spot. The recipe below makes two cakes about 1″ in height, and as such is designed for stacking. Make the full recipe for a two-layer carrot cake. Alternatively, you can halve it, make it in an 8×8″ pan, and slice and stack the resulting square into 6 or so pieces.

But first, a story. If you sit in any one place in West Philly for long enough, you’re bound to hear the cries of “Carrot Cake Man, carrot cake!” Carrot Cake Man, as he’s known, walks around the city all day with a huge tray of individually wrapped pieces of carrot cake balanced on one shoulder, hawking them on the cheap to anyone within earshot. He bakes the cake in his home kitchen, and I like to imagine neighborhood kids lured in by the promise of sweets only to be buried under a landslide of carrots and plastic wrap. The cake isn’t vegan, but I hope someone out there will take Carrot Cake Man’s guerrilla tactics as inspiration to start their own traveling vegan cake business. (And I don’t mean the yuppie kind, either.) Maybe you could even do it from a tall bike.


4.9 from 19 reviews
Classic Vegan Carrot Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 2 8×8″ or 2 9″ round cakes
  • 2⅓ c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp flax seed meal
  • ¾ c warm water
  • 1½ c sugar
  • 1 c oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c shredded carrots
  • 1 c walnuts, chopped
  • 8 oz vegan cream cheese
  • ¼ c margarine, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Line two 8×8″ pans with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, sift together dry ingredients (flour through salt).
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together flax seed meal and water. Beat in sugar and oil.
  5. Add vanilla and carrots and mix until combined.
  6. Add dry mix and stir until moistened.
  7. Fold in walnuts.
  8. Pour equal parts into pans.
  9. Bake for 18-20 min, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Let cool in pans 10 minutes.
  11. Use a knife to loosen edges of cake from pans.
  12. Using parchment paper, lift cakes out of pans. Let cool fully on wire racks.
  13. To make Cream Cheese Frosting, beat together cream cheese and margarine. Add vanilla and powdered sugar; whip until smooth. Don’t overbeat; in my experience, store-bought vegan cream cheese has a tendency to get runny.
  14. To assemble, carefully remove parchment paper from one cake. Frost with cream cheese frosting, layer, and decorate with marzipan if desired. Serve chilled.
To make marzipan carrots like I did, knead a drop each of yellow and red food coloring into the marzipan before shaping into thin cones. Press indents into each cone and brush cocoa powder into them for some realism.