Last week was my eldest son's birthday and I had fun planning and organizing the party. After a lot of deliberation I ended up baking a decadent vegan carrot cake. But the decision of was not very easy.
He turned 7. I see a sudden change in his likes and dislikes. He was this little kid who was watching Max and Ruby, Caillou and Diego even 2 months back and all of a sudden everything has changed. He is into Power Rangers, Avengers, rocket/space ships etc. I'm still wondering how all of this happened in such a short span of time. So I was really having a hard time to figure out what sort of party to plan for. Wish it was as easy as when he turned 3 and all I had to do was bake this gorgeous eggless chocolate cake.
I was thinking of making a rocket shaped cake but a trial run didn't work out as expected and we ended up having a lot of cake. I didn't want to keep testing it again and again and end up baking a lot of cake. Then we had the black or white debate. My son and I prefer chocolate cake but my husband and mother-in-law like vanilla cake. So my husband suggested to bake a two-in-one cake; with vanilla on one side and chocolate on the other. That's when I started looking for ideas to bake a two tone cake. That made me think about what frosting to choose. Would that be 2 flavors too or just one? I was literally pulling my hair to figure it all out.
Then I had this "light-bulb" moment. I decided to bake one 9-inch round layer cake for adults and a few cupcakes both chocolate and vanilla for the kids. I would frost the 9-inch layer cake and my son would be cutting it and keep the cupcakes as it is for the kids to frost and decorate themselves. For the 9-inch layered cake I decided to bake the vegan carrot cake from Sticky Fingers' Sweets by Doron Petersan. I also wanted to try the vegan cream cheese frosting recipe she had in the book.
For the cupcakes I used my eggless vanilla cake recipe (veganized it) and whacky vegan chocolate recipe. My original plan was to bake regular size cupcakes but then I decided to go with mini cupcakes. I thought by doing so the kids could enjoy both the flavors if they wanted to. I laid down a variety of sprinkles, butter cream frosting and chocolate frosting on a tray and the kids had to do the icing by themselves. I was really not sure if a cupcake party would go well with a group of 7-10 year old boys. But I was in for a surprise when I saw that they actually loved it. The kids had a fun time frosting and decorating the cupcakes. I wonder if they were able to settle down for bed that night after all that sugar rush!
Even though I had planned out everything well in advance, I had one issue though. I would not be able to taste the carrot cake until it was cut by my son. So I was really worried and was even thinking of getting a cake from the store and keep it ready just in case. As soon as the carrot cake came out of oven I was eager to level it off for frosting, so that I could taste the crumbs and make a decision. Unfortunately the cake did not bake with a big dome like the usual white/chocolate cakes do. It was a very thin layer cake and was almost flat without the necessity to be trimmed. Even then I did not let got off it. I slightly leveled it off and tasted the crumbs and was relieved. It was good but I was not really jumping up and down. Then I prepared the frosting too. The frosting tasted good on its own and later with the cake too. Once the cake was frosted it got a decent height. Otherwise the 2 layers looked very small which made me seriously doubt if it would be enough for the 6-8 adults.
I had baked a big batch of the vanilla and chocolate cupcakes anticipating a situation of the carrot cake not coming through as expected. I thought that if I screwed up with the cake I would serve the cupcakes for the adults too. Fortunately the vegan carrot cake did not let me down and it was a huge hit with everybody.
The adults were like "are you seriously telling that this carrot cake is vegan?". It was that good. I'm glad that I tried this vegan carrot cake recipe on such a special day.
Vegan Carrot Cake w/ Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 2/3 cup coconut oil
- 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- almond milk - any non-dairy milk
- coconut oil - any flavorless oil
- 1 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (like Earth Balance)
- 12 ounces non-hydrogenated vegan cream cheese (like Tofutti), softened
- 4 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice (I didn't use it)
- 2 to 4 drops lemon oil, to taste (I didn't use this either)
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C for 15 minutes.
- Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl mix together the Part 1 ingredients.
- Add the milk and oil to the bowl and stir to combine.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients mentioned in Part 3.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. It's okay if the batter is slightly lumpy.
- Distribute the batter between the two pans evenly. I measured out the batter and it was 3 cups in total. So 1.5 cups of batter in each pan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Mine was done in 18 minutes itself. The cake started pulling out of the sides of the pan.
- Place the pans on a cooling rack to cool for about 20 minutes. Turn the pan upside down to remove the cakes and cool it completely before frosting.
- In a large bowl beat the shortening until smooth using an electric mixer.
- Add the cream cheese and beat until its thoroughly incorporated.
- Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and rest of the ingredients, if using and beat until smooth. I added the sugar 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl. You can dump everything in if you are using an electric stand mixer. But if you are using a hand-held mixer like me then add the sugar in small additions.
- Both the cake and the cream cheese frosting turned out to be DELICIOUS! Everybody at the birthday party enjoyed this cake very much. I personally felt that the cake tasted great the following day. I don't know if it was just me because on the day of the party I was already full with pizzas and other food that I was really not able to judge the cake. Even when everybody else praised it I was not able to really see it. But the next day I was able to fully appreciate the taste and texture and it was AMAZING! I'm 100% confident that nobody can guess that it is a vegan carrot cake with vegan cream cheese frosting.
- The original cake recipe used 3/4th cup of whole wheat pastry flour. I didn't have it so used all-purpose flour itself.
- If you are a spice fan increase the quantity of ground cinnamon to 1 teaspoon.
- The original frosting recipe suggests that the frosting can be made in advance and refrigerated covered properly. Bring it back to room temperature to soften before using.
- The frosting is supposed to be for a 9-inch layered cake but I still have about a cup and a half of frosting left. I did use a lot for the filling and the sides and top of the cake. I feel that using the entire recipe for that cake is way too much. Now I have to look for a way to use that frosting.
I also made these ricotta cheese sweet balls (doodh peda) from here and it was a huge hit too.