Carrot Cake with Cashew Icing

My Mum’s carrot cake is a little bit famous amongst friends and family in New Zealand. This is her recipe, veganised, and dare I say it is just as good as the original.


Makes a cake to serve 8-10 people

For the cake:
1 C (250ml) coconut milk or any other plant milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
2 heaped tablespoons of Chia seeds
2 large or 3 medium carrots (about 2 Cups when grated)
1 large handful of walnuts (+ extra for the top)
1.5 C flour
3/4 C coconut sugar or raw sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda / bicarb soda / naturon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla powder
pinch of salt
100ml of coconut oil or other plant oil

For the optional icing:
100g cashews
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 a cup of icing sugar
1/2 a tsp of vanilla powder
1/2 a tsp of ground cinnamon
a few teaspoons of nut milk (I usually use the remaining coconut milk from the can I opened for the cake)
additional walnuts for the top



20 minutes to prep and 1 hour to bake. Icing can be made while cake is baking.

For the cake:
– Preheat oven to 180°c
– Place coconut milk and apple cider vinegar in a bowl, jug or large mug and stir to combine. Add chia seeds, stir once more, then set aside
– Peel and grate carrots and place in a bowl or on a plate
– Roughly chop the walnuts and place them with the carrots
– Place flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine
– Add coconut oil to the chia/coconut milk/apple cider vinegar mix, which should have thickened by now
– Pour wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and use an electric mixer to combine
– Add the carrots and walnuts to the large bowl and use the electric mixer to beat the batter until everything is well combined and the carrots have released some of their juices into the mix, making it more wet
– Pour cake batter into a lined 20cm cake tin (pictured above) or a large loaf pan (pictured below left)
– If you are not making icing, sprinkle additional walnuts on top before baking, as you would with banana bread
– Bake for 1 hour or until an inserted skewer comes out clean

For the icing:
– Boil the cashews for 15 minutes to soften
– Drain the cashews and place in a blender (or blending receptacle if using an immersion blender) with the lemon juice and icing sugar. Blend until smooth, adding a little nut milk as you go until it reaches a smooth consistency
– Add vanilla and cinnamon and blend to combine
– Store icing in the fridge until carrot cake is completely cooled, then pour over the cake and sprinkle with chopped almonds

Notes and serving suggestions:

Substitute the walnuts with pecans or sunflower seeds if you like, and substitute the carrots with zucchini too if you want to be really wild, however I do not recommend skipping the spices. 1/2 a teaspoon of nutmeg may not sound like a lot, but it is a powerful spice that will make a world of difference to how your cake tastes.

I usually make this for a gathering of some kind. If you are not planning to eat it immediately, store in an airtight container in the fridge to prevent the icing going bad.

Alternatively – skip the icing and sprinkle chopped walnuts on the top of the cake before baking. The top of the cake is really yummy and crunchy and I usually ice it for looks more than for flavour.

If you don’t have apple cider vinegar it is not the end of the world, your cake simply may not be as fluffy.


  1. Just came across your blog whilst voting in the Saveur food awards. Very impressed, so voted for you! Particularly like the clear layout and wonderful photography. Recipes look pretty good too :-). Looking forward to trying the pumpkin pizza. Good luck.

    1. Thank you! This kind of feedback is so valuable to me, it keeps me chugging along when I wonder if I am doing it right 🙂 🙂 I hope you love the pizza! <3

  2. Hi! I want to try this delicious cake, but we don't eat gluten: what type of flour de you reccomend? Thanks

    1. Hi Anabelle! I have still not mastered the art of vegan AND gluten free baking, however I often read / am told by friends that a gluten free blend is better than going for any one particular gluten free flour. I am sure you could find one at your local health food store, or if you want some tips about making your own, have a read of this post by gluten free girl I hope this helps! 🙂 🙂

    2. Annabelle, I made this cake using Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 baking flour and the cake came out beautifully! I use his gluten free flour as a substitute in all my baking and have always had success. The carrot cake was was delicious as were the choc chip cookies! Jessica your recipes are amazing, we are slowly making our way through your book and love every one!

  3. This looks INCREDIBLE. It's amazing to me how so many desserts can be made (and are often better) vegan. Thank you for being such an amazing resource for anyone who loves delicious desserts (not just vegans!!). 🙂

  4. Hey Anabelle,
    the recipe sounds amazing! But as I'm "only" a vegetarian I'm curious about your mom's recipe, too. Would it be possible to sent me the original version? Or do I just have to switch the chia seeds for 2 eggs and use 100 gr butter instead of the plant oil?

    Many thanks for your reply.

  5. Hi Jess,

    What do you think about subbing flax seeds for chia? I just already have a big bag of the stuff on hand.


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