This Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake is beautifully moist, subtly spiced, and bursting with tropical flavours!
I used my go-to cake batter for this – it’s undetectably vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar free, so easy to make and comes together in just one bowl.
The other ingredients really bring this cake come to life, though – carrots add natural sweetness, coconut adds tropical flavour, dried mango adds gummy bursts of nectar-like sweetness and pistachios add a nutty crunch, whilst cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and cloves add a touch of warming spice.
And if you’re making a carrot cake, you obviously need to make a cream cheese frosting too, and we’re not going to let being dairy-free get in the way of having any cream cheese frosting are we?
I went for the simple and foolproof method of mixing coconut cream with lemon juice, which brings out a tartness perfectly reminiscent of cream cheese. If you’re feeling lazy, you can substitute the coconut whipped cream with coconut yogurt.
I then like to top the cake with some toasted coconut flakes, chopped pistachios and dried tropical fruit, for extra colour and contrasting texture.
Looking for more yummy cakes? Check out my:
- Red Velvet Cake
- Chocolate Truffle Cake
- Tropical Carrot Cake
- Lemon Blueberry Cake
- Cherry Bakewell Cake
- Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
- Chocolate Sponge Layer Cake
- Black Forest Cake
- Coffee Walnut Cake
- Strawberry Sponge Layer Cake
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d really love to hear any feedback! Please give it a rating, leave a comment, or tag a photo #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! Thank you.
- 8 tablespoons coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
- 100 ml (1/2 cup minus 2 tablespoons) milk, any kind
- Juice of 1 lemon*
- 8 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon mixed spice (or sub a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 carrot, peeled and grated
- 2 tablespoons dessicated coconut
- 50 g (1/3 cup) dried mango or papaya (ensure refined sugar free if necessary)
- 30 g (1/4 cup) shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
- 150 g (1 1/4 cup) ground almonds
- 150 g (1 1/4 cup) gluten-free flour (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
- 2 heaped teaspoons baking power (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
- 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 400 g (14oz) tin coconut milk**
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Toasted coconut flakes
- Shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
- Dried mango or papaya, chopped into smaller pieces if necessary
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees (350 degrees)
- Place the coconut oil in a large bowl and melt over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave (skip this step if not using any other oil)
- Once melted, add the milk to the same bowl along with the lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, mixed spice, salt, grated carrot, dessicated coconut, dried mango, chopped pistachios, and ground almonds
- Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
- Mix well, adding a tiny splash more milk if it's looking too dry
- Transfer mixture between two small greased baking tins lined with baking paper (I used two 7inch/18cm baking tins)
- Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean
- Once out the oven, immediately remove cakes from baking tins and transfer onto a wire rack to cool
- You'll need to keep your tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight for the rich creamy bit to separate from the watery bit at the bottom. Make sure it is full fat coconut milk, otherwise this separation won't happen and you won't be able to make this cream!
- Open the tin upside down - the coconut cream will be at the bottom and you can just pour off the watery liquid (save this for adding to soups or smoothies)
- Place the thick, creamy part into a bowl
- Add the lemon juice, maple syrup and vanilla extract
- Use an electric whisk (or a manual one and a lot of elbow grease) to whip up the coconut cream until light and fluffy
- Once the sponges have cooled completely, place one sponge on a large plate or cake stand, and cover with half of the frosting
- Place other sponge on top and use remaining frosting to cover the top
- Sprinkle with coconut flakes, chopped pistachios and dried mango
- Best when fresh, but keeps well covered in the fridge for up to a few days
*The lemon juice is crucial as its acidity needs to react with the alkali bicarbonate of soda to make the sponge fluffy. If you don't want to use lemon juice, substitute with 1 tablespoon vinegar instead
**You can alternatively use 200g (7oz) thick coconut yogurt
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