When I mentioned to my friends that I was working on this vegan carrot cake muffins recipe, to my surprise, I got a mixed response. Some were very really keen to try the recipe, but others were put off by the idea of eating vegetables inside a cake.
But I am a big carrot cake lover, so I simply had to create this vegan & dairy-free recipe and hope that by making them into cute bitesize muffins it would be more appealing to all the carrot cake haters out there.
I have made these gluten-free as I do believe that with the right flour, you can achieve really lovely squidgy cakes with none of the belly aches! But if you prefer, you can substitute the flour like-for-like with gluten-based flour.
Carrots are actually quite a sweet vegetable full of moisture, so I believe they complement desserts and cakes really well. But I will leave the final verdict to you, after you try out my version of this classic cake, in muffin form!
What ingredients are used?
In order to make delicious vegan carrot cake muffins, based on a traditional carrot cake recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- Carrots (of course)
- A vegan egg alternative
The beauty of this cake is that you can really play around with the flavours. By using a different mix of spices you can achieve a different distinct flavour. I personally like to use a mix of cinnamon and ginger, but I also really enjoy nutmeg with carrots. Your choice of nuts can also change the flavour and the texture of the muffins. In this recipe, I have chosen pecans but walnuts also work really well!
Are these muffins healthy?
Just because carrot cake is made using vegetables doesn’t mean it is healthy. Yes, it has some healthy aspects like the nuts, spices and the main star of the show, the carrot.
Carrots are a great source of nutrients, like Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium and Vitamin D. But I’d definitely recommend eating raw carrots to get those nutrients, rather than relying on their existence within a sweet sugary cake.
See also: my guide to vegan nutrition
I use sugar in this recipe to add sweetness to the cake, but you could attempt to minimise this or use sugar alternatives. However, I have not tried this particular recipe with anything else so I couldn’t tell you what the results would be.
Why bake cakes with vegetables?
So, we know it isn’t necessarily because we are trying to make cake healthy.
Vegetables not only help to change the texture of a cake, but they also help to add their own unique flavour profiles. Carrots are actually quite a sweet-tasting vegetable and also help to bring an earthy savoury flavour to the cake. They also contain quite a bit of moisture, which helps to add a squidgy element to the muffins.
So, for all you carrot cake haters and lovers out there, I have some top tips for you so you too can enjoy this tasty vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free recipe.
- Grate the carrot as finely as possible to avoid biting into chunks of carrot.
- Make the cake mix less sugary because it has a lovely natural flavour that would otherwise be hidden with empty sugary calories.
- Cover the cakes in a yummy tangy frosting to complement the savoury notes.
- Use spices that you actually enjoy eating so you can enjoy the finished product more. I know some people aren’t big fans of cinnamon, so simply leave this out.
Making these gluten-free
As many of you will already know, I am a big lover of Doves Gluten-Free Flour blends. I use them in most of my gluten-free recipes, like my banana pancakes – which I’m often told are better than the gluten versions!
Well, these gluten-free flour blends work amazingly in sponges. They keep the sponge light and fluffy and still allow for a good rise. I’d even go as far as to say that you wouldn’t be able to tell that these vegan carrot cakes are gluten-free.
You may have different results if you use single gluten-free flours, like oat, or almond, rather than a pre-made blend.
I recommend serving these vegan carrot cake muffins with cream cheese frosting and some extra nuts on top for decoration.
How do you make vegan cream cheese frosting?
Cream cheese frosting is a vital component of carrot cake. And it is no different for vegan carrot cake. However, cream cheese frosting is traditionally made using dairy cream cheese.
But, fear not! There are now so many amazing vegan alternatives out there that it is easy to replicate the tangy creaminess that can also be achieved with dairy.
We always have a tub of Nush almond cheese-style spread in our house, and despite initial concern, it worked perfectly in the frosting.
I also added a dollop of soy yoghurt to the mix and it helped to elevate the tang. Just be careful when mixing it in, adding too much liquid to buttery frosting can cause it to curdle. Always add liquids slowly and gradually.
How do you store the muffins?
Once you have baked them, make sure to keep these inside a cake tin and store them at room temperature. You should eat them as soon as possible to enjoy the cream cheese frosting. If you are keeping them longer then you may want to store the cream cheese frosting separately in the fridge and the muffins inside a cake tin. You can then add the frosting just before eating.
Vegan carrot cake muffin recipe
- 9 tbsp aquafaba - (the water from a can of chickpeas)
- 200 g Soft light brown sugar
- 125 ml Organic sunflower oil
- 240 g Gluten-free self-raising flour
- 1 tsp Baking powder
- 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp Ground ginger
- 230 g carrots - finely grated
- 100 g Pecans - roughly chopped
- 200 g Icing sugar
- 100 g Vegan cream cheese
- 50 g Vegan butter
- 50 g Coconut yoghurt - I use Alpro soy yoghurt
- Preheat oven to 180° (fan 160)
- Grease a muffin tray (the mix makes 6 large muffins or 12 smaller muffins)
- Start whisking the aquafaba with a mixer (or a handheld electric whisk), you’ll want to whisk for about 10 minutes until the mix is stiff and has formed white peaks
- Gradually spoon in the sugar to the aquafaba mix whilst still whisking
- Set aside the aquafaba and sugar mix
- Sift the flour with the baking powder and spices into a large bowl
- Mix in the finely grated carrots and chopped pecans to the flour mix.
- Stir in the oil until well incorporated and then fold in the aquafaba-sugar mix
- Pour the cake mix into the greased muffin moulds
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown
- Take out of the oven and leave to cool
- Whilst waiting, sieve the icing sugar into a bowl
- Whip up the butter and cream cheese together until smooth and well incorporated
- Whisk in all the icing sugar to the butter and cream cheese mix
- Gradually spoon in the yoghurt whilst mixing, take it slowly to avoid curdling.
- Once the muffins have cooled, pipe on the frosting – or simply spoon straight on top!
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