Sep 27, 2018

Classic Carrot Cake ~ grain-free, oil-free and plant-based!


Wow! I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that I finally, finally, FINALLY nailed this recipe. I feel like calling this “Carrot Cake: Take 3,455” … because that’s how many trials and errors I seem to have endured. I have posted a raw carrot cake recipe, and that one was wonderful in its own right, but it’s simply not the same as a genuine, classic carrot cake.

I’m all about texture when creating baked goods, and it just wasn’t happening. Carrot cakes usually call for TONS of oil. That’s probably why I had such a hard time. But I finally did it. A prefect crumb, not too dense, not too sticky, not heavy at all and NO OIL. Yay! And the timing couldn’t have been better since I was asked to bake this wonderful dessert for a dear friend’s birthday.

One of the most important factors in getting that rise and texture just right is the particle size of the dry ingredients, so make sure to chop the walnuts pretty small and use the finest grater setting for your carrots. In keeping with that particle size, I also opted for currants instead of raisins, but raisins would be fine, too. 

So here it is! What may arguably be the perfect, plant-based, oil-free carrot cake.

Healthy trails,






Classic Carrot Cake

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 8 large slices

A decorative and scrumptious tradition, made oil-free and plant based!


  • 1½ cups light buckwheat flour (see notes)
  • 1 cup tightly packed almond flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currants (I used currants)
  • 1 cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or other minimally processed, granulated sweetener)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • wet
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, plant based milk (I used soy)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 TBS ground flaxseed + 1/4 of the orange juice listed above
  • frosting
  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked at least 5 hours
  • 1- 1½ cups water
  • 1 TBS lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean powder or extract or a couple of drops of orange oil flavoring
  • 3 TBS maple syrup or sweetener of your choice


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine the 2 tablespoons of flax meal with 1/4 cup of the orange juice and set aside.
  3. Line 2 round 8-inch cake pans with wax paper or parchment (I use wax paper, cut to match the size of the bottoms of the pans and also use just a touch of cooking spray oil both beneath and above the paper for ease of unmolding after baking)
  4. Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine. NOTE: it's important to separate all of the carrot shreds so they aren't sticking together.
  5. Combine all of the remaining wet ingredients except the flax mixture and stir well, adding the flax mixture last and stirring gently.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans as best you can and smooth the tops with a spatula.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Let cool for about 20 minutes, then turn the pans upside down onto wire racks to unmold. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.
  10. To make the frosting, simply blend all ingredients in a high powered blender. Add bits of water at a time, as you don't want the mixture to become too thin. You may need more water than is mentioned above, it really depends on how long your cashews have soaked.
  11. Blend until smooth.
  12. REFRIGERATE, covered, for several hours before using as it will firm up as it cools and be easier to use.
  13. Decorate as you like! I used candied pineapple, chopped pistachios, dried rose petals/buds and fresh marigold flowers (yes they are edible, just make sure they are organic if purchasing)


I prefer to use LIGHT buckwheat flour in this cake, though you could certainly use regular buckwheat, but it would change the color considerably. I find mine on Amazon, available from one or two sellers. Alternately, you could certainly use wheat or spelt flour. I just prefer to keep mine gluten-free. But don't use the GF mixes, they won't work. Trust me, I've tried so many kinds of flours. Enjoy!

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Zip Recipes Plugin

19 responses to “Classic Carrot Cake ~ grain-free, oil-free and plant-based!”

  1. Jan-Marie says:

    Helyn ~
    That cake is just absolutely gorgeous! You nailed the perfect sponginess and it looks perfect. Do you think you could make it into cupcakes. That’s a lot of cake for just me 🙂

    • helynskitchen says:

      Hi, Jan-Marie! Yes, absolutely you can make cupcakes with this recipe, just decrease the baking time to about 20 minutes. Not sure how many it will make, but most likely a dozen. Enjoy!! <3

  2. Jan-Marie says:

    Excellent! Thank you.

  3. Poppy says:

    Looks marvelous! Do you think homemade buckwheat flour, ground from raw hulled groats would work? Aloha

    • helynskitchen says:

      That’s an interesting idea, Poppy! I’ve never tried it but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Let me know if you do this and the result please.

  4. Looks amazing! Can’t wait to bake it… Thank you!

  5. Jen says:

    This looks so good! I can’t wait to make it :).

  6. Lois says:

    I’m not much of a baker but carrot cake is my husband’s favorite. Can I just put this into a 9 x 13 pan, and if so, would it bake at the same amout of time?

  7. Hope Green says:

    am ordering the flour today… so excited- 45 yrs ago I made my first carrot cake in an angel food cake pan from the recipe on the 5#sugar bag- OMG thought I had died and gone to heaven… snagged a slice every time I went past the cake- in 2 days I ate half the cake!!! being only 19 at the time it didn’t hurt me- but I never again made one unless there was a reason to share… have loved carrot cake ever since… I AM SO EXCITED!!!

  8. Curt says:

    Helyn, thank you for the 3455 takes on perfecting this cake! My wife and I made it yesterday and it is the best carrot cake ever! I added too much water when making the frosting, but it was still fantastic! Thank you so much!


    • helynskitchen says:

      You’re so welcome, Curt! I’m happy that you like it!!! Another option you may want to try next time for the frosting is to use my cultured cashew cream cheese recipe (with a little sweetener added at the end)… it’s more work and time to do of course, but it really adds another note of authenticity and yumminess to the cake. xx

      Cultured Cashew Cream Cheese

  9. Lois says:

    Thanks for taking the time to answer me!

  10. curt says:

    Thanks, Helyn!

  11. Crystal says:

    If it’s Thanksgiving, it’s the perfect day for Helyn’s recipes and this carrot cake was THE hit at my family gathering today. My entire family loved this carrot cake! It is soooo flavorful and moist. My family has a strong genetic disposition for heart disease so our whole meal was vegan, no oil, no dairy and featured several other recipes from this website (Thanksgiving Lentil Loaf is fabulous too!). Thank you for your work to refine these recipes to be such high quality for special gatherings. Other desserts that were not compliant with our diet were available but the preference was for this carrot cake! Also, I used whole wheat flour instead of the light buckwheat; that was the only variation I made.

    • helynskitchen says:

      Crystal, thank you so very much for your feedback on this recipe! It’s great to know that your family enjoyed it. Happy Holidays to you and yours!! xoxo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *