Vegan carrot cake with whipped coconut frosting


I have found that having a few vegan dessert recipes in my arsenal come in handy.  I have several friends that are vegan or dairy free and I always feel a little sad that they are left out of dessert.  One of my complaints about vegan cakes is that they tend to be too dense and heavy.  I have to admit that I had to make this cake twice to get results that were worth sharing with you.   I am happy to say that I have found the solution to insure that your cake is light and fluffy.  The trick is to grind flax seeds mixed with water in a blender until you achieve a thick batter like consistency.  The first time I made this cake I used flax seed meal soaked in water and the cake came out more like a hockey puck.    I had always heard that flax seeds make a good substitute but blending the seeds with liquid is really vital to achieving the right texture in the cake.  I drained the liquid off the can of pineapple from the recipe and soaked the flax seeds in that along with a little water.

scaling back -vegan carrot cake with whipped coconut cream

scaling back -vegan carrot cake with whipped coconut cream


I also wanted a frosting recipe that didn’t use vegan cream cheese and artificial butter and had a few recipes on my Pinterest board for whipped coconut frosting and wondered if it would be a worthwhile substitute.  It was super easy and whipped up to be light and fluffy with just a subtle coconut flavor.  I used coconut cream, so make sure not to use coconut butter or coconut milk.  Coconut milk will work but you won’t get the same yield and I found it a little too thin and watery.  I sweetened it with just a little maple syrup and vanilla and would be happy to use it wherever I whipped cream is called for.  This is a cake that anyone would be happy to eat and I have been gifting slices to all my friends, whether they are Vegans or not.

scaling back -vegan carrot cake with whipped coconut cream

Vegan Carrot Cake with coconut whipped cream


Serves 12




  • 1 ½ cups flaked coconut
  • 6 tablespoons golden flax seeds
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 2/3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 14-ounce cans coconut cream (you can use coconut milk but it will yield less and be slightly thinner)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla
  • pinch of salt

scaling back -vegan carrot cake with whipped coconut cream


Chill the cans of coconut cream for two hours or overnight.  Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Oil and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.

Spread the flaked coconut on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-12 minutes until the edges are slightly golden brown and fragrant.  Let cool while you prepare the rest of the cake.

Place the flax seeds and water in a blender and let soak for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, process the flax seeds until the mixture thickens.  You want it to be nice and thick, this is what will give the cake a nice light texture.  Add the oil and vanilla and blend until thoroughly incorporated.  In a large bowl add the flax mixture, carrots and pineapple and mix to combine.

In a separate bowl mix all the dry ingredients together and add to the wet mixture in three separate additions.

Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

Turn the cans of coconut cream upside down, open with a can opener and pour off any liquid at the top.  Add the cream to the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and blend on high speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy, it should hold soft peaks.  Add the vanilla, maple syrup, salt and mix until well combined.

Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread 1 cup of frosting on top.  Place remaining cake layer on top.  Spread top and sides of cake with a very thin layer of frosting and refrigerate for 20 minutes to set the crumb coat.  Once the base has set frost the top of the cake with the remaining coconut cream and swirl the top to coat. Press the toasted coconut into the sides of the cake and serve.  Refrigerate leftover cake for up to 5 days.

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  • Meet Tina | Scaling Back Blog

    Self-taught cook, photographer.  You can usually find me at a farmers market dreaming up alternative recipes for my allergy prone family.

    13 thoughts on “Vegan carrot cake with whipped coconut frosting

    1. Nancy

      Can’t wait to try this recipe. How long do you recommend I bake this for if I were bake them as cupcakes?

      1. Tina Post author

        Hi Nancy,

        I would bake them for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Be sure to check them at around 18 minutes and if they spring back at the top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean they should be ready to go. Let me know how they turn out if you try them!

      1. Tina Post author

        Hi Rae,

        Yes, you can substitute eggs for the flax and water mixture. Use two large eggs instead. Let me know how it works out for you!

      1. Tina Post author

        You could definitely use white flour if you prefer and it will probably make it a little bit lighter. I used whole wheat pastry flour just to up the nutrient profile. Let me know how it comes out if you try it!

      1. Tina Post author

        Hi Chelsea,

        Did you try to make the frosting and it didn’t work out for you? The coconut cream can be a little tricky. You need to make sure to chill it and pour off any liquid before you try to whip it. Trader Joe’s carries coconut cream which is richer and thicker than coconut milk and it whips up beautifully!

    2. Coconut Milk Recipes

      , thanks very much for posting this! It is gonna help me when I research Coconut Milk at the store! So Astonishing!

    3. Alena

      This was the best carrot cake I’ve ever made! So moist and unbelievably delicious! Always on the hunt for a good vegan dessert!

      1. Tina Post author

        Ho Alena,

        I’m so glad that you liked it. I had to bake several test batches before I came up with a flavor profile and texture that I was happy with. I’m glad to hear that it turned out well for you!

    4. Carolina

      Will the frosting be pipable? I’ve made this from coconut milk before and it has been really really runny 🙁

      1. Tina Post author

        Hi Carolina,

        I’ve found that using regular full fat coconut milk doesn’t hold it’s shape very well. I am a big fan of Trader Joe’s coconut cream for making whipped frostings. It holds it’s shape really well and tastes delicious, just be sure to drain off any water that has accumulated in the can. When I had my friends sample this recipe the frosting was their favorite part! I hope you like the results if you give it a try!


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