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.
MauraNovember 16, 2017 at 3:48 pm
What a gorgeous cake! Happy Thanksgiving!
Lisa GriffinNovember 16, 2017 at 3:50 pm
I subscribe to your newsletter and look forward to the new recipes I receive. bI can’t wait to try this cake.
Clelia PatrizioNovember 16, 2017 at 3:56 pm
Your recipes are always so beautiful and tasty. I have finally adopted a 100% vegan diet and feel better than I have felt in 30 years. Thanks for making it easy, Susan. Can’t wait to try this at my first vegan Thanksgiving!
Natasha L.November 16, 2017 at 4:03 pm
I already follow you on Facebook and Instagram and get your newsletter!! This cake looks amazing. I have all of the ingredients handy (except for a good pan to bake it in). It’s on my list for my family’s Christmas meal. Thanks!!
Heidi C.November 16, 2017 at 4:14 pm
I follow you on FB and just started following you in Instagram. Love your blog! 🙂
MarthaNovember 16, 2017 at 4:24 pm
Your recipes all looks amazing! I love carrot cake and cranberries, so can’t wait to try this one. Thanks so much. I’d love to win that holiday book.
Pamela ZoslovNovember 16, 2017 at 4:36 pm
I’m a longtime subscriber, follower and happy user of your wonderful recipes!
KathyNovember 16, 2017 at 4:36 pm
This looks delicious! Thanks for all your wonderful recipes and for the book giveaways!
Chris JNovember 16, 2017 at 4:44 pm
Your blog and website are my go-to places for FF vegan recipes and ideas. Thanks for all the info. and inspiration! I already subscribe to your newsletter and FB page.
Mary HintonNovember 16, 2017 at 4:46 pm
Love the cake. Need the book.
Caroline JonesNovember 16, 2017 at 4:51 pm
Another winner! Looks delicious!
Catherine M. HessNovember 16, 2017 at 4:59 pm
That cake looks amazing and delicious, frosting or no! I already “liked” your Facebook page, so please enter me in the contest. Thanks.
P.S. Your cranberry relish is the best ever and has become a personal tradition at my house!
Lynn CloughNovember 16, 2017 at 5:10 pm
I subscribe to your newsletter. The cake looks wonderful.
JanNovember 16, 2017 at 5:22 pm
I already subscribe to the newsletter and follow on facebook. I can’t wait to try this. It has all the things I like in baked goods in one recipe!
AlexandraNovember 16, 2017 at 5:33 pm
. Lovely cake, and happy holidays!
Phyllis DelgadoNovember 16, 2017 at 5:42 pm
My grandsons except baked goods from me weekly. I’ve been trying no oil recipes lately. Can’t wait to try this recipe for my family this Thanksgiving.
CarolineNovember 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm
I would love to win a copy of this new cookbook and try the recipes on my omni family this holiday season.
Connie GreenNovember 16, 2017 at 6:48 pm
I am currently subscribed to your newsletter .
Deborah W.November 16, 2017 at 6:52 pm
I follow on Facebook @Dee Walker, Instagram and also receive your newsletter.
LizNovember 16, 2017 at 7:06 pm
This cake looks so appetizing — a beautiful addition to the holidays. Love your site and all of your amazing tecipes!
JulieNovember 16, 2017 at 7:14 pm
I follow you everywhere Susan! 😉 Facebook, instagram and I receive your newsletter. This cake…wow! Will be a great addition to Thanksgiving.
DebNovember 16, 2017 at 7:15 pm
This cake looks so good…
jacquieNovember 16, 2017 at 7:19 pm
the cake looks so good – i can’t wait to try the no-frills version. already a subscriber and follower.
Mandy BennettNovember 16, 2017 at 7:28 pm
Love your recipes!
JeriNovember 16, 2017 at 8:54 pm
This looks so delicious! The only problem is, now I have to decide between making this or your pumpkin and lemod layered cheesecake. It’s a good problem to have. Thank you!
CathrynNovember 16, 2017 at 8:59 pm
This looks absolutely fantastic, I can’t wait to try out this recipe for Thanksgiving!
SarahNovember 16, 2017 at 9:41 pm
I like you on FB
Carla MoschettiNovember 16, 2017 at 9:44 pm
I subscribe to your email. Thanks!
cynthiaNovember 16, 2017 at 10:13 pm
Already a follower and fan. Looking forward to trying this recipe — thank you!
Cynthia KresgeNovember 16, 2017 at 10:32 pm
I follow you on IG and via your newsletter and would love to enter the drawing.
Can’t wait to try this recipe. It looks great!
Rosemary CanfieldNovember 16, 2017 at 10:49 pm
I am going to try this for our family celebration – it looks fabulous!
SueNovember 16, 2017 at 11:28 pm
Your photograph of the original recipe is absolutely beautiful! Your updates to the recipe are the frosting on the cake!
JoAnn M LakesNovember 16, 2017 at 11:58 pm
I ALREADY SUBSCRIBE! HAVE FOR YEARS!!!!
BetheryNovember 17, 2017 at 12:59 am
Is this the form to enter? No matter, the cake looks great!
LauraNovember 17, 2017 at 1:34 am
This recipe looks delicious! Great way to celebrate our first plant-based thanksgiving!
I follow you on FB (as Towanda), and get your newsletter, and now am leaving a comment. 🙂
SusanNovember 17, 2017 at 2:47 am
Looks delicious! I love your recipes. Thanks for sharing!
Mary SteckelNovember 17, 2017 at 3:16 am
This looks amazing!
I follow you on Facebook, Instagram, and receive your newsletter.
SophieNovember 17, 2017 at 3:38 am
Looks yummy. We can’t get fresh cranberries here. Any suggestions? Thanks , Sophie
TanyaNovember 17, 2017 at 4:18 am
Looks delicious! I suscribe to your newsletter and follow you on Facebook
Jennifer ChristianNovember 17, 2017 at 6:02 am
Looks delicious! Love getting these recipes in my inbox!