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.
Tammi HodgesNovember 17, 2017 at 6:42 am
I enjoy your recipes and I look forward to trying this beautiful cake! Thank you
Natalia MNovember 17, 2017 at 6:46 am
You couldn’t have posted this at a more appropriate time. I’ve been trying to come up with a dessert for thanksgiving brunch, and this is just perfect! Looks so delicious and sounds like very simple to make. Now I want to see the rest of the book!
JeannieNovember 17, 2017 at 7:21 am
I am a subscriber and follow you on instagram and facebook. Happy Thanksgiving!
Kathleen AllenNovember 17, 2017 at 9:55 am
So happy to see a cranberry recipe that call for fresh berries and noto the dried that are usually sweetened and concentrated source of sugars.
Beth SoltisNovember 17, 2017 at 10:04 am
I’ve been searching all week for ideas for Thanksgiving dessert and I think I found it! This looks delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe and the giveaway!
Sharon ZinserNovember 17, 2017 at 10:16 am
Perfect timing! I was just looking for a dessert for Thanksgiving.
Thank you for the recipe and the chance to win the cookbook.
DeeNovember 17, 2017 at 10:57 am
Looks super tasty! Leaning to adding this to the holiday menu- maybe I can convince the sweet-tooths this is a great substitute rather than some of the more traditonal.
Dora GarratonNovember 17, 2017 at 2:47 pm
I follow you on facebook and also receive your newsletter! You have been an inspiration for meany meals in my family. When you post something new, I can’t wait to try it because I know it’s going to be good! Thanks for all you do! Warm hugs and Happy Thanksgiving!
JuneNovember 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm
I follow you on Facebook and instagram. My family and I are big fans of your recipes. Would love to win the cookbook!
This recipe is perfect…cran berries for my husband and carrot cake for me!
Lauren CampbellNovember 17, 2017 at 4:58 pm
I am already subscribed to your newsletter. Thanks for the opportunity to with this book!!
BarbNovember 17, 2017 at 5:27 pm
This looks yummy and I will add it to the many recipes I have made from your blog and Facebook page. The cookbook looks like it will have amazing recipes and I would treasure it if I am a lucky winner. Thanks for sharing all your recipes.
Margaret pNovember 17, 2017 at 6:53 pm
I am making this! Love that it’s oil freee
RachelNovember 17, 2017 at 7:34 pm
I just stubbled on your website, and immediately ‘liked’ your Facebook page! All of your recipes look divine!
Kathy RogersNovember 17, 2017 at 7:41 pm
I could see using this for a Christmas dessert as well.
Connie MNovember 18, 2017 at 1:46 am
I love your blog and have made and bookmarked many of your recipes over the years. This cake looks fantastic!
Robin PlettNovember 18, 2017 at 5:40 am
Your blog is my go to recipe box. Thank you so much for what you do. I’ll echo the folks who wish you would publish a book, but in the meantime I’ve made my own With a bidet and sheet protectors. Over and over favorites are confetti cornbread, red beans and rice and Dirty little secret soup. I’d love to win the drawing, but in any case keep up the good work!
Robin PlettNovember 18, 2017 at 5:41 am
Your blog is my go to recipe box. Thank you so much for what you do. I’ll echo the folks who wish you would publish a book, but in the meantime I’ve made my own With a binder and sheet protectors. Over and over favorites are confetti cornbread, red beans and rice and Dirty little secret soup. I’d love to win the drawing, but in any case keep up the good work!
MissyNovember 18, 2017 at 7:53 am
Hi! I follow you on Facebook.
JwiltzNovember 18, 2017 at 8:12 am
This looks beautiful. I can’t wait to try it.
SandeeNovember 18, 2017 at 8:29 am
This is an absolutely beautiful cake and it’s vegan! What more could you ask for as a non-traditional way to enjoy cranberries at Thanksgiving.
DebNovember 18, 2017 at 9:06 am
This looks wonderful, thanks for sharing!!!
DonnaNovember 18, 2017 at 10:34 am
Love all your recipes, Susan. Thank you so much for caring and sharing. Wonderful new about your Thanksgiving visit with your daughter. I bet that will be loads of fun for all of you!!!
ElisabethNovember 18, 2017 at 11:12 am
Looks so delicious! Would love to win a vopy of your cookbook!
StacyNovember 18, 2017 at 11:57 am
I follow you on Facebook and subscribe to your newsletter. That book looks amazing!!!
StephanieNovember 18, 2017 at 12:38 pm
Thank you for sharing this recipe. I made it last Thanksgiving and even though I didn’t use any oil, it still came out moist and delicious. I bought my cranberries last night!!!
LynnNovember 18, 2017 at 8:19 pm
We love carrot cake and this looks awesome. I will be preparing this cake for a thanksgiving church dinner. I’m Vegan and I’m always looking for great recipes. Thank You
LindaNovember 18, 2017 at 9:57 pm
I look forward to making this; it sounds great. But… The carrots are missing from the recipe instructions! How much do you need and when do you add them? I assume they are grated as in other carrot cake recipes I’ve made.
Susan VoisinNovember 18, 2017 at 10:21 pm
The carrots are there, 4th ingredient from the bottom. They’re added in step 5.
Mary PomerantzNovember 18, 2017 at 11:26 pm
Another beautiful recipe! Thanks, Susan! I would love to win one of Nava’s new books. Please place my name in the hat.
Myra DelzeitNovember 18, 2017 at 11:43 pm
This recipe sounds wonderful! Will try it for Thanksgiving. Please also enter me for the cookbook drawing!!!!
Rebeeca ReisNovember 19, 2017 at 9:44 am
Could I substitute agave nectar for the granulated sugar?
Susan VoisinNovember 19, 2017 at 11:36 am
I wouldn’t recommend it. It will throw off the moisture balance and the cake will probably be too wet.
MonicaNovember 19, 2017 at 9:51 am
Love receiving your newsletter, reading your blog, etc! Thanks for delicious, healthy recipes since discovering your site several moons ago! Can’t wait to make this colorful recipe, too.
RiyaNovember 19, 2017 at 10:18 am
I am SO making this for Thanksgiving
Janet CoxNovember 19, 2017 at 10:32 am
I love all your recipes so I”m sure I will love this one too. It looks wonderful.
SherrieNovember 19, 2017 at 2:59 pm
This looks delicious both ways! Looking forward to trying it out 🙂
CJ LamarNovember 19, 2017 at 3:02 pm
This is gorgeous – looks like a perfect holiday cake!
Kath SercuNovember 19, 2017 at 3:09 pm
Seven years ago my husband & I decided to switch from vegetarian to vegan for health reasons. I panicked when I realized all my baked goods and many of my other recipes used yogurt in place of oil. Thankfully my internet search found you!!! You have provided me with recipes and tips to convert my favorite meals. After reading the ‘China Study’ because of both you and Maria we are now WFPB. You are always on my list of things I am Grateful for!!! Thank You for another wonderful holiday recipe. I just bought 20 lbs of fresh cranberries and I look forward to sharing Cranberry Carrot Cake with unsuspecting new friends!
Please enter me into your book giveaway
PamNovember 19, 2017 at 3:33 pm
Looks fabulous and so does that book! Would love to win it?
LaurieNovember 19, 2017 at 4:48 pm
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your daughter!
Karen ChickeringNovember 19, 2017 at 5:01 pm
oooh, this is next on my list, thank you!
LoraNovember 19, 2017 at 5:17 pm
Can’t wait to try this. Thanks for all that you do and have done over the years.