carrot cake with lemon cream

I’m one of those people who love a good salad. I always have.

Even in winter.

Take me to dinner, and it’s almost a sure thing that I’ll order a salad as my meal.

It’s more than silly since I eat so much salad at home. When fattoush salad or a roasted beet and goat cheese salad with maple balsamic vinaigrette is on the menu, salad is a sure thing.

As for a fresh well-stocked salad bar, just throw in the towel because I surrender.

This past winter, even with the abundance of fresh salad greens in our house, I haven’t made a salad but a few times. In fact, I’ve wanted anything but salad.

Roasted squashes, thick hearty vegetable soups, and grilled Reuben sandwiches have kept me warm during these almost saladless cold months.

I decide to break the no salad streak today. I have to. We have three heads of green leafy lettuce, one small bag of mixed baby greens, and a few cups of arugula.

I mix a little of each green in a bowl with a homemade miso ginger dressing and top them off with shredded carrots. I finish the bowl out of obligation, but the carrots are what get me to the last forkful.

Carrots coated with dots of miso and ginger.

carrot cake

As a reward for breaking my salad less days, I’m baking a carrot cake inspired by my recent salad covered in a bed of carrots and ginger dressing.

For the cake, I toned down the ginger and add extra grated carrots along with coconut: milk, butter, and flakes. The cake is sweetened with honey, maple syrup, and dates and for a soft crunch, cashews. It’s more like tea bread than traditional carrot cake that is often cloying in its sugar load.

carrot cake plate

This cake is a perfect balance of sweet and healthy, and I like to smother it with a light lemon cream. While the lemon cream does call for tofu and vegan cream cheese, I have to tell you, it doesn’t taste the slightest bit like soybeans. The flavors of honey, maple syrup, and lemons shine through the tofu cream base.

carrot cake bite

Now for another slice, I did finish my salad, after all.

Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream
(printable recipe)
Yield 2-layer 9-inch cake (12-cup capacity), 8 to 10 servings 

2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil or unsalted butter (melted)
1 cup coconut milk or buttermilk
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 1/2 cups grated carrots
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup dates (pitted and chopped)
1 cup cashews (coarsely chopped)

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer at medium speed. Add the melted coconut oil, coconut milk, honey, maple syrup, vanilla, and lemon juice and zest; beat together at medium speed. Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture and beat at low speed until well combined. Add the carrots, coconut, dates, and cashews, beating at low speed until just combined.

Divide the batter into two well-oiled and lightly floured, 9-inch cake pans. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on wire wracks. Top individual pieces with lemon cream or your favorite frosting and serve.

Lemon Cream
Yield about 3 1/4 cups

1 (12.3 ounce) package firm Silken tofu
8 ounces cream cheese (I use dairy-free Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and puree until creamy smooth. Refrigerate until an hour before serving.


  1. SashaInTheKitchen says

    looks and sounds amazing. Love the combination of the sweet carrots with the tartness in the lemon cream. Nice post.

  2. memyselfandotherthings says

    Dear sweet mothership. Why did I read this? I know need to make this cake, eat it all and then count the points on Weight Watchers. This is not going to be pretty. Someone's gotta do it though.

  3. tea says

    I just found your blog this morning.. I know nothing about real cooking, but I've enjoyed reading over your posts and getting a glimpse of what it's like. You are a really good writer. I look forward to following along. Thanks for sharing! :)

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  5. Cottage Cozy says

    Oh…so delicious. I just love carrot cake! This one sounds delish!

    I came over to visit from Rebecca's Chow & Chatter Blog…I will be back to visit again soon!

    Stay Cozy

  6. Mary says

    Nikki, I stopped by just to say hello but stayed far longer than I planned. You have a really lovely clog and I'll be back often to see what's cooking.

  7. Patty says

    Oh my god that lemon cream would be PERFECT on the carrot cake, now why didn't I think of that? Great post!

  8. Carrie says

    I just want to say that last weekend I made the lemon cream a bit thicker, and it turned out great. thanx for the share.

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