Cranberries add a tangy, fresh flavor while carrots provide sweetness in this colorful, vegan Cranberry-Carrot Cake. Perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Six years ago, I was honored to work with Nava Atlas, taking the photos for her book Vegan Holiday Kitchen. It was a gorgeous hard-backed book, and I’m happy to announce it’s just come out in an equally beautiful paperback version, with full-color photographs on heavy, high-quality paper.
To celebrate, I asked Nava if I could post one of her recipes from the book, and she said yes. I’ve also begun giving away some of the copies that the publisher sent me, and I’ll tell you more about that in a moment. For now, let me tell you about this delicious cranberry-carrot cake.
When I first made Nava’s Cranberry-Carrot Cake with Vegan Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting to photograph for the book, I followed her instructions exactly and topped it with the vegan cream cheese frosting and walnuts you see in these first photos. I also used the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil the recipe called for because when I’m taking photos of someone else’s recipes, I’m obligated to show them exactly as written. The cake and the cream cheese frosting were both delicious, but I knew that the cake was so good that it didn’t really need the frosting–it just looked fancier with it.
So I decided to try my hand at making the cake without oil and without the frosting, and it was just as delicious (and easier) than the original recipe. I used aquafaba (liquid from canned chickpeas) instead of oil and baked it just a touch longer than the original recipe required. Instead of frosting, I sprinkled the top with powdered sugar.
Let me tell you, though: This cake does not need powdered sugar, either for sweetening or for appearance. The sugar, maple syrup, and carrots give it just enough sweetness, and the top of the cake when it comes out of the oven is a multicolor masterpiece:
As for the flavor, the carrots are the perfect counterpoint to the cranberries. It’s sweet and tangy and flavorful without being weighed down by oil or cream cheese. My advice is, unless you’re serving it for a fancy occasion, skip the toppings and let the flavor of this cranberry-carrot cake shine through. (Of course, I’m going to give you the instructions for the frosting so you can make it if you decide to.)
Now, about that giveaway. Last week I gave my newsletter subscribers a chance to win 2 copies of Vegan Holiday Kitchen. In the end, there were so many entrants that I gave away 3 to lucky winners Jodi, Joanna, and Martha.
This time, I want everyone to have a chance to win. I’m going to give away 3 more copies, and you can enter by visiting my page on Facebook, subscribing to my newsletter, following me on Instagram, or simply leaving me a comment if you already do all of those things (or just don’t want to!) 🙂 Each option gives you another chance to win, but…YOU MUST USE THE FORM BELOW TO ENTER (your email address and other information will be kept private). I am sorry but I am unable to mail to addresses outside the continental U.S.
Sorry—The contest ended at midnight EST, Monday, Nov. 20, and the winners are announced above. Thanks to all who participated.
- 8-10 ounces fresh cranberries
- 1/3 cup natural granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat flour)
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons aquafaba (liquid from canned or cooked chickpeas) or plant milk of choice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup grated carrot
- Maple-Cream Cheese frosting optional (see recipe in Notes)
- 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts optional
- confectioners sugar optional
- 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.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, flaxseeds, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon. Stir to combine thoroughly.
- Make a well in the center and add the applesauce, syrup, aquafaba/plant milk, and vanilla. Stir until the wet and dry ingredients are completely combined, but don’t over mix.
- Stir the cranberries and carrots into the batter. Pour into a 9-inch round silicone cake pan. or lightly oiled springform pan (see headnote). Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
- 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 over the sides. Otherwise, leave the cake in the pan and simply frost the top.
- (If you don't wish to use the frosting, you can sprinkle the top with confectioners sugar or just serve it plain.)
- Sprinkle evenly with the optional walnuts, then cut into wedges to serve.
Maple-Cream Cheese FrostingNava says, "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 tablespoons maple syrup, to taste
- 2 tablespoons rice milk or other plain or vanilla vegan milk
Nutritional info is approximate.
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If you’re looking for more dishes to fill out your holiday menu, please check out my Thanksgiving Recipes.