This Gluten-Free Vegan Tropical Carrot Cake is beautifully moist, subtly spiced, and bursting with tropical flavours!
I’ve created this cake for The Blooming Great Tea Party 2017. This amazing campaign aims to encourage people to get together and have tea parties to raise funds for the charity Marie Curie. I love the idea, and Marie Curie is a charity very close to my heart, so I’m keen to spread the word about this great initiative. So, I developed this recipe as an idea of something you can make if you’re thinking of hosting a tea party but are worried about what to make if some of your friends have tricky dietary requirements. This cake is perfect as it’s vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar free, but can be enjoyed by conventional eaters too, and what better way to celebrate at a tea party than with carrot cake? It’s so easy to make, and guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser.
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.
I then like to top the cake with some toasted coconut flakes, chopped pistachios and dried tropical fruit, for extra colour and contrasting texture.
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d love for you to take a photo and tag it #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! It would really make my day to see what you come up with!
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- 8 tablespoons coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
- 100ml (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
- 50g (1/3 cup) dried mango or papaya, chopped into smaller pieces if necessary (ensure refined sugar free if necessary)
- 30g (1/4 cup) shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
- 150g (1 1/4 cup) ground almonds
- 150g (1 1/4 cup) gluten-free flour (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
- 2 teaspoons baking power (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
- 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 x 400g (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
- 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
- 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