This fluffy vegan carrot cake has warm hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, plus an extra-generous portion of shredded carrots for sweetness and moisture. The layers are satisfyingly tall, thanks to applesauce, which reacts with the baking soda and baking powder to help the cake rise. Eggs typically add structure to baked goods, but this recipe has enough flour and shredded carrots to compensate.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with coconut oil.
For the cake layers: Place the walnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes. When the walnuts are completely cool, finely chop half and roughly chop the remaining half; keep separate.
Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl until combined and set aside. Whisk the 1/2 cup coconut oil, cane sugar, milk, applesauce and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in the carrots until thoroughly combined. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in the finely chopped walnuts until just incorporated.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans, then smooth the top into an even layer. Bake until golden brown, the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto wire racks to completely cool, about 1 hour.
For the cream cheese frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and salt until combined. Reduce the speed to low, then gradually add the confectioners’ sugar followed by the cornstarch until combined and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the cake.
When the cakes are completely cool, trim the domes of each round with a large serrated knife so the tops are flat. Place 1 round, cut-side down, on a platter or cake stand. Spread 3/4 cup of the frosting evenly over top. Place the remaining round, cut-side down, on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake with 1 cup of the frosting and smooth completely to make an even crumb coat. (It's okay if some of the cake shows through. This is just the base layer of frosting.) Refrigerate for 30 minutes to let the frosting set.
Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake, swirling decoratively, if desired. Sprinkle the top edge of the cake with the roughly chopped walnuts. Refrigerate until the frosting is set, about 30 minutes.
When measuring flour, spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in extra flour in the measuring cup, which can yield dry baked goods.)
Copyright 2021 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved.