Cranberry-Carrot Cake with Vegan Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

vegan cranberry-carrot cake

This cranberry-carrot cake is festive and luscious, but with a minimum of fat and a plethora of fresh fruit (and a vegetable!) in the batter, not the least bit guilt-inducing. It’s a nice alternative to pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dinner, for those few who don’t care for it, and wonderful for Christmas as well. Recipe adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen. Photos by Susan Voisin.

Serves: 8

  • 8–10 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup natural granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry or spelt flour
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseeds, optional
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup applesauce 
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp safflower or other light oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • Maple-Cream Cheese frosting (see following recipe)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Place the cranberries in a food processor fitted with the blade and pulse on and off until evenly and finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Add the sugar, stir well, and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, optional flaxseeds, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon. Stir to combine thoroughly. 
  4. Make a well in the center and add the applesauce, syrup, safflower oil and vanilla. Stir until the wet and dry ingredients are completely combined, but don’t over mix.
  5. Stir the cranberries and carrots into the batter. Pour into a lightly oiled 9-inch round cake pan. or springform pan (see headnote). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center tests clean. 
  6. If using the walnuts, toast them in a small dry skillet over medium heat until they brown lightly. Once the cake has cooled to room temperature, release from the pan if you’ve used a springform or other easy-to-release pan and spread the frosting over the top evenly, allowing it to drip fetchingly over the sides. Otherwise, leave the cake in the pan and simply frost the top.
  7. Sprinkle evenly with the optional walnuts, then cut into wedges to serve.

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Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

I love this simple frosting on fruit- or vegetable-based baked goods, especially those containing carrots or pumpkin

Makes about 3/4 cup, enough to frost one average-sized cake

  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
  • 2 to 3 tbsp maple syrup, to taste
  • 2 tbsp rice milk or other plain or vanilla vegan milk
  1. Combine the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until creamy and smooth. Use a flexible cake spatula to remove from the container.
  2. Spread on cakes or cupcakes once they’ve cooled to room temperature.

vegan cranberry-carrot cake with maple-cream cheese frosting

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Candice Lyons
    December 21, 2016 at 10:51 am

    I made this cake last year and it came out looking exactly like the picture and was delicious!

  • Reply
    Lynn
    May 8, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    How do you make vegan cream cheese?

    • Reply
      Nava
      May 9, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Lynn, the recipe for the vegan maple cream cheese is toward the bottom of the page. You start with store-bought vegan cream cheese! Daiya and Follow Your Heart both make good varieties.

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