Easy Vegan Carrot Cake Traybake with Lemon Cheesecake Frosting
This Easy Vegan Carrot Cake Traybake, filled with juicy sultanas & crunchy sunflower seeds, is smothered with pillows of decadent, dairy free Lemon Cheesecake Frosting. So simple to make but sure to impress! Sturdy enough to be stacked, filled & covered with fondant for something different on that special occasion. Free from dairy, eggs, soya, nuts & works beautifully with gluten free flour.
Easy Vegan Carrot Cake Traybake
Every year for my birthday I make a new flavour of cake and (try) blog the recipe. The most recent of those was this beautiful Vegan Lemon & Raspberry Layer Cake with raspberries baked into each sponge layer and covered with a zesty lemon icing. It was SOOOOO good, I definitely recommend trying it if you like a good lemon cake!
However, this year I decided to go simple on account of being in lockdown and all…
So for my birthday this year, I’ve gone for a carrot cake traybake. A lovely dairy & egg free carrot cake that has no nuts or soya and can be made with gluten free flour.
AND its smothered with a luxurious lemon cheesecake icing, made from just 4 ingredients!
It’s crazy simple to make, no weird ingredients and completely adaptable for whatever you happen to have in the cupboard. You can even substitute the carrots if you need to!
I have to admit that despite lockdown v3, I have had a very lovely day! Definitely been spoilt with prezzies & now have brand new shiny attachments for my Kenwood mixer And a very pretty new pink Ohelo travel mug!
Now to plan next year’s cake as 2022 will be a double celebration – I will be 40 & The Peachicks’ Bakery turns 10!!! So the cake next year needs to be kinda spectacular!
Mind you I’m not wishing this year away just yet, despite Covid’s best efforts, 2021 has had its positives so far! Our little Lottie, No17 is looking amazing! I post quite a lot about it over on Insta, our latest job was to sort the asparagus bed out. Cut down the ferns, then feed & cover it. Check out our post on growing it for more tips of looking after your asparagus bed.
Its literally only about 8 weeks until we get asparagus spears again and the Covid saga will have come full circle. We found our first spears in the same week Lockdown v1 was announced last year!!!
Ingredients for Carrot Cake Traybake
The egg less carrot cake sponge is really easy to make. I don’t use any kind of commercial egg replacer, not because they are not good but because actually they can be quite expensive and take special effort to get hold of. So I prefer to use things you can reliably get hold of in your local supermarket. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried to use one in developing this recipe, so I can’t really say whether one would work or not, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t if you followed the instructions on the box.
In this sponge, the carrots, milk & chia seeds all help to do the job of the egg in a ‘normal’ sponge.
The carrots help to bind the sponge together as well as adding moisture. The second part of the egg replacer for the carrot cake is whole chia seeds which replace some of the protein from the egg, but to be honest, you don’t really need these if you’d rather not use them. And finally, the dairy free milk makes up some of the fat, protein and volume of liquid from the eggs.
Dairy Free Carrot Cake Traybake
You can use any milk you like to make this yummy traybake but for a dairy free version, you need to use one of the many vegan milk alternatives that are now available. There are so many different dairy free milks to choose from, its hard to know where to start, so if you need some advice – check out my Vegan Gingerbread Cake recipe.
I have used Koko in this cake, but this is one of those recipes where a milk with more of coconut flavour could work quite well. Replace some of the carrot with crushed pineapple and use dried mango instead of sultanas and you’ve got yourself a lovely tropical carrot cake!
Gluten Free, Vegan Carrot Cake
As with all of my vegan cakes, this recipe generally works well with most gluten free flours due to the liquid content of the batter. Just make sure you check if the one you are using contains a thickener like xanthan gum. I tend to use Sainsbury’s own gluten free flour, but the recipe will work just as well with Doves, Asda or whichever brand you prefer to use.
Nut free vegan Carrot Cake
While most carrot cakes contain walnuts, or maybe pistachios if its a particularly fancy one, this cake gets that signature crunch of a proper carrot cake from sunflower seeds. Pumpkin seeds also work really well but if you don’t need a nut free version then any tree nut would be delicious.
Adding dried fruit
Every good carrot cake has to be filled with those sweet juicy bursts you get from the dried fruit. But don’t be tempted just to stick with the sultanas. Dried sour cherries and cranberries are both AMAZING in this vegan carrot cake. They soak up the lemon juice add a nice sourness to the traybake that balances out the sweetness of the sponge.
Can you use frozen fruit?
I would imagine so! In fact writing this has just made me realise I need a carrot muffin recipe on the blog and I am thinking that a carrot & raspberry or blueberry breakfast muffin with a crunchy museli top would be a good place to start!
Dairy Free Lemon Cheesecake Frosting
This is not your standard cream cheese icing. The addition of lemon zest and cream of tartar leave you with a rich, fluffy tangy cheesecake flavoured frosting for you to pile high on top of your traybake. It sets like a normal cream cheese frosting and noone will be able to taste the difference!
I use equal quantities of cream cheese and hard baking block. For me, Koko Dairy Free Cream cheese is my go to when making icing as it has a lovely thick consistency but I have had success making this icing with lots of different coconut based vegan cream cheese alternatives. I don’t know if using a soya based one or silken tofu would give you quite the same cheesecake taste.
Top Tip for cream cheese icing…
Make sure the cream cheese and vegan butter are at room temperature before mixing the frosting – otherwise it will be runny and grainy.
Storing Dairy Free Carrot Cake
This cake will store really well, the icing sets nice and hard and the cake itself stays moist for a good few days. That said I’m not sure it will actually hang around for that long it is just too delicious! I made this one the night before my birthday, iced it, wrapped it in cling film and shut it out in the conservatory over night so noone could eat it until I’d taken photos! As I write this, there is still half the cake left, although we’ve had to shut it back out in the conservatory so there is some left for a quiet cuppa while The Peas are at school
Obviously if you leave it un-iced, it will last a little longer and can be frozen in pieces ready for emergency cake needs!
One word of warning, if you are using gluten free flour then I wouldn’t leave the cake longer than a couple of days without freezing. Even then, gluten free sponges do have a tendency to go soggy, as the days go on.
Decorating the traybake
So there you have it – my birthday cake for 2021! A very yummy vegan carrot cake with a luxurious lemon cheesecake frosting! I definitely went understated with the decorations this year, just a thick layer of buttercream and some pretty sprinkles – these are free from but possibly not vegan friendly, however it is easy to find some that are.
Can I use this vegan carrot cake traybake for a wedding cake?
The cake is sturdy once cool so will withstand being cut, iced, sandwiched and covered in fondant. The cream cheese icing sets hard enough to use as both filling and crumb coat.
One quantity of this recipe gives you one layer of cake and one layer of butercream. So for an 8 inch, single tier square cake, you just need to make 3 of these traybakes. Cool, level them off and sandwich before crumb coating with the rest of the frosting.
3 quantities of frosting is two filling layers and enough for thin first crumb coat around the cake. If you are just going for a buttercream finish, rather than fondant, I would make at least one more batch, probably two, of the cream cheese frosting to leave you enough to get a smooth outer coat.
FYI, next cake I make is getting generously sprinkled with these Dairy free smarties I found on the vegan kind supermarket!
If you fancy making your own carrot cake traybake then don’t forget to pin the recipe and tag us in your photos on social media – the Peas love seeing all your creations!
Pin Vegan Carrot Cake Traybake for Later
Other great Carrot Cake recipes:
I do love a carrot cake so it wont surprise you to find out that there is a few on here already! All vegan, made without eggs, dairy or soya and all either gluten free already or with instructions to adapt them!
Looking for something a little different?! Then try my Vegan Pumpkin & Carrot Cake topped with cream cheese icing & smothered in a salted caramel sauce and chopped pistachios.
Or how about this lovely lightly Spiced Easter Cake? Sweet carrot sponge balanced with the addition of a spiced orange chocolate syrup and topped with cute little fondant carrots.
Vegan Carrot Cake Traybake Recipe
Vegan Carrot Cake Traybake with Lemon Cheesecake Frosting
Ingredients (Carrot Cake)
- 150 g Dairy Free Baking Block or Vegan Butter Baking Block, Vegan Butter
- 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil (Sunflower, Canola, Vegetable)
- 150 g Granulated sugar white or brown
- 250 g Carrots Grated
- 350 g Self Raising Flour Gluten or Wheat
- 1 tbsp Whole Chia Seeds Whole or Ground
- 100 g Dried Fruit Sultanas, Mixed fruit, cherries
- 2 tbsp Sunflower Seeds
- Lemon (Juice & Zest)
- 300 ml Dairy Free, Milk Alternative
- Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line the square cake tin and set aside while you make the cake batter.
- In a large bowl beat together the dairy free margarine, vegetable oil and lemon zest. Next weigh out the sugar, add to the bowl and continue beating until pale & fluffy.
- Into this mixture add the flour, grated carrots, dried fruit, sunflower seeds & chia seeds and start to bring together.
- Next add the lemon juice to the dairy free milk and let sit for a minute. Then slowly pour this into the dry ingredients, stirring slowly as you do. Fold gently until all the flour has been mixed in - otherwise you will get those horrible flour pockets through your cake and we definitely don't want that! The batter should be soft but not very runny.
- Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for around 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for around an hour before decorating
For the Lemon Cheesecake Frosting
- Beat the cream cheese, butter & Lemon Zest until beautifully pale & fluffy.
- Sieve the cream of tartar and icing sugar before adding to the bowl. Beat together either by hand or set your mixer to slow to avoid clouds!
- Smother the cake with a thick layer and decorate with sprinkles, chocolate swirls or whatever you fancy really! Dried raspberry powder would look pretty!
- Stand back and admire!!
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