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raw carrot cake slice w/ tangy citrus frosting

raw + vegan carrot cake slice // the first messraw + vegan carrot cake slice // the first messraw + vegan carrot cake slice // the first mess
I had this whole thing typed up about all these life-y bits and frustrations. Then Mark and I took a trip to the dump on Monday. It was rainy, cold and the wind would pelt you in the face when you just got around to forgetting about it. I was chucking gnarly old tree roots and heaps of lath into a giant, depressing garbage bin, next to 5 equally depressing garbage bins, when I realized that my glance needed re-adjustment. I was steady-bummed for a while because the whole renovation situation felt a bit unfamiliar and outside of my immediate grasp. There were a lot of comments tossed around that went to the tune of “WHY did we buy this piece-of-shit house?!”

Except… it totally isn’t a piece of shit. I keep forgetting that there is an entire universe of vivid and ecstatic energy bundled up within the vicinity of my cardiovascular system/chest cavity. I’ve been thinking small, that I’m small, that we’re small, that everything else is too big. Then, on that miserable day at the dump, I realized it’s kind of amazing to be uncomfortable, to be far flung outside of your cozy, blanket-wrapped elements. I’m learning heaped handfuls of life-y things every day. We’re gaining strength, understanding and stretching a little bit deeper all the time. The frequency of it just takes a little getting used to. Anyway we’re still here, I’m embracing my inner “big-ness” and now there’s a little bit of cake too.

This is a raw and vegan affair that comes together pretty simply once the cashews are soaked and the carrots are grated. I reserve the walnuts for the top, rather than mixing them up into the already unique texture of this raw “cake.” My favourite carrot cake ever has plenty of orange zest in the frosting, so I went in that direction for mine. Lots of warm spice, vanilla and smooth coconut oil too. Also, the ratio of cashew-based frosting to cake is 1:1 and I don’t even feel the need to qualify that one. Go have some cake for breakfast, friends. xo

raw + vegan carrot cake slice // the first messraw + vegan carrot cake slice // the first messraw + vegan carrot cake slice // the first mess

raw + vegan carrot cake slice w/ tangy citrus frosting
serves: makes an 8 inch square cake
notes: I make the cashew icing in my Vitamixbecause the high speed makes for a really dreamy frosting. I imagine this would work out alright in a food processor though, maybe a few more textural bits, but still tasty. Also, you want the icing to set in the fridge to a point where it becomes spread-able, not rock solid. You could probably speed this up in the freezer if you need to.

frosting ingredients:
1 1/4 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
1/2 cup almond milk
1/3 cup raw honey/raw agave nectar/maple syrup
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract/liquid vanilla
pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
zest of 1/2 an orange

cake ingredients:
1 cup pitted dates
splash of water/orange juice
1 cup almond flour
1 cup hazelnut flour (or more almond if you like)
1/4 cup liquid coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla extrtact/liquid vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch fine sea salt
zest of 1/2 an orange
1 cup finely grated carrots

Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper, with some overhang, and set aside.

In a blender, combine the soaked and drained cashews, almond milk, raw honey/agave/maple syrup, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Blend on high until you have a smooth and creamy consistency. With the motor running slowly, lift off the top of the blender and drizzle the melted coconut oil in slowly. Once you have a homogenous mixture, shut the machine off. Scrape the frosting into a bowl and fold the orange zest into the frosting. Cover the frosting with cling film, pressing it onto the surface. Allow the frosting to firm up in the refrigerator for about an hour.

In a food processor, pulse the dates with the splash of water/orange juice until you have a chunky paste (you could also just chop the dates up fine to make a paste). Scrape the date paste into a large bowl. To the date paste, add the almond flour, hazelnut flour, coconut oil, spices, salt, orange zest and grated carrots. Mix it up with a spatula or your hands until everything is evenly mixed. Press this cake mixture into the parchment lined pan until you’ve achieved an even thickness and you’ve filled out the pan. Cover it up and place in the fridge until you’re ready to frost it.

Spread the tangy citrus frosting on top of the cake and garnish it with chopped walnuts, more orange zest, currants, whatever you like. At this point, I like to let the whole thing set up all nice in the fridge, but you don’t have to. Lift the cake by grabbing the parchment overhang. Place it on a cutting board and slice into squares. Keep leftovers covered in the fridge for about 5 days or so.

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Good for you :) I had the same feelings lately and during the weekend I reminded myself how much I love my life :)

Skye14/11/2013 - 5:30 am

I made a carrot, ginger and almond cake recently with a cream cheese frosting. It was sublime, but I was riddled with guilt for days afterwards, as I ate far too much… This looks like a very healthy and completely guilt-free alternative. Hurrah! Do you think that it would work if I used blanched almonds instead of cashews?

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar14/11/2013 - 8:06 am

I love the sound of this. The crust looks absolutely perfect!

Laura Wright14/11/2013 - 8:22 am

Hello Skye, I think you could use blanched almonds, but the texture/mouthfeel might be a bit different. This frosting gets its creaminess from the fattiness of the cashews, but it’s certainly worth a try :)
-L

Stephanie Tucci14/11/2013 - 9:40 am

I love you blend the coconut oil into the frosting! I work at a Raw restaurant in NYC and thats what we do for icing/ice cream ect. Glad to see other people are using the same awesome technique! Really glad I found your blog :)

Aimee @ Simple Bites14/11/2013 - 9:57 am

Renovating is gruelling, no matter the scale of the job. Hang in there. In the meantime, it looks like this cake soothes a lot. Beautiful flavor profile!

Ali @ Inspiralized14/11/2013 - 10:01 am

I mean, that frosting!! I love this recipe, I”m definitely making it this Thanksgiving!

Kate @ The Endless Pursuit14/11/2013 - 10:11 am

Amen sista!
Laura, seriously this post hit home, as we are trying to renovate our early 1900′s kitchen. With dust everywhere, cookware scattered throughout the house, and just the overall monstrosity of this project has had me feeling the exact same way… small and overwhelmed. Great way to put this all in perspective, I needed that. :) And I also NEED to make this carrot cake now! Wowza!

Good luck with the reno!

Emma Galloway14/11/2013 - 10:33 am

God I need a high powdered blender, then maybe, just maybe I could get into cashew icing. Mine looks nothing like your lovely smooth and creamy goodness right there! Yum.

Chelsea thenakedfig14/11/2013 - 10:36 am

This looks so yummy! I tried making raw carrot cake once before and was a little disappointed (although I skipped the icing so I set myself up for failure). But this looks perfect and I think will turn me back on to raw carrot cakes. Thanks for sharing!

Renee Shuman (@FrolicChocolate)14/11/2013 - 12:11 pm

I want to put that frosting on all the things. Also, this sounds like a brilliant breakfast! I think I’ll make this tomorrow morning.

Heather14/11/2013 - 2:05 pm

Gurl, you have done it again. The most beautiful carrot cake I have ever seen.

Katy14/11/2013 - 5:01 pm

So gorgeous. I love raw desserts, I find them much easier to make since you can’t mess up the baking part!

Nicola Galloway14/11/2013 - 5:34 pm

Buying a house that needs work is huge but so rewarding. I know the first years of Renos, garden excavating etc. were often challenging for us but now we can sit back and enjoy our little Eden (and plan our next reno, it never really ends :) ).
And have a built a thing of beauty in this cake will add this to my ‘must make’ list now I have a high sleep blender.

Dearna @tohercore14/11/2013 - 5:53 pm

Its hard sometime when big tasks like this are so overwhelming. On the upside, its always great to challenge yourself and learn form experiences and opportunities, good and bad. Glad that you are felling more positive about it all now – and good luck with the renovations :)
Oh, and this cake looks amazing too by the way!

Grace14/11/2013 - 6:31 pm

Ugh, renovating is intense – but so rewarding! When you’re all done you’ll have a home that you love and your confidence will be through the roof! This cake sounds amazing and the pictures are beautiful. Love!

hannah14/11/2013 - 10:11 pm

I made this almost as soon as I saw it! And it’s delicious! Thanks for all that you share Laura!

Katie @ 24 Carrot Life15/11/2013 - 12:37 am

These look killer good and I can’t wait to make them asap!!

Laura Dillon15/11/2013 - 5:42 am

Hey Laura, I really love the look of this raw cake, carrot cake is my favourite and i love making it with lot of good spices like you have here, and coconut flakes too! Your food blog is an utter inspiration for me (not only because we have the same awesome name), but because everything you post here is so delicious and healthy and just beautiful. I hope one day I can develop my knowledge with food even close to as good as you are now!
Keep posting the lovely recipes ;)
from Laura

Rebecca Jane15/11/2013 - 7:18 am

Holy moly i am making this this weekend. Go rock the bigness you are surrounded with xx

molly yeh15/11/2013 - 11:40 am

book marking this. my man’s birthday is at the end of the month and he is gluten free, dairy free, and *mostly* sugar free. it’s a bitch when it comes to birthday cakes! i was thinking of making a steak cake. BUT THIS IS WAY BETTER. you are the bestest.

Lillian @ Sugar and Cinnamon15/11/2013 - 10:01 pm

Such a healthy and unique take on carrot cake! Carrot cake is one of my favourites and I’m always looking for ways to make it a little lighter and better for you. This raw version looks so delicious and light. Can’t wait to give it a try! And your photos are just inspiring.

amy16/11/2013 - 12:35 pm

looks great, going to try this today! can i use coconut flour instead of hazelnut flour?

[…] like to please introduce you to a sweet and savory Raw Carrot Cake with Tangy Citrus Frosting. How wonderful and indulgent does this beautiful cake look? I am always thrilled to read, recreate, […]

Jessica (bakecetera)17/11/2013 - 8:17 am

this is the most beautiful and original method for making a carrot cake! i love all of the natural ingredients. it looks incredible, i can’t wait to try this out!

Laura Wright17/11/2013 - 9:39 am

Hi Amy,
Coconut flour tends to be super-drying. So maybe start with half the amount of hazelnut flour, mix it up, see how it feels and go from there. I think the texture might be quite different if you go this way though.
-L

Golubka17/11/2013 - 11:36 am

Amazing you can go through such intense renovations and still make, photograph and write about your beautiful food. Just read your interview with Food and Wine, congratulations!

Kathryn17/11/2013 - 6:28 pm

I totally get you. The number of times I wondered why we were even moving, let along trying to project manage a renovation was insane. It was all just so overwhelming but I know you’re going to be so happy in your new home. In the meanwhile, I think you deserve lots and lots of cake.

Victoria18/11/2013 - 8:35 am

Laura, I’ve been reading this blog (which I love! thank you for not being pretentious) for a year or so now.

I’m curious about how your body feels going raw when it’s about to be winter. Although, I am in KCMO, so it’s probably already winter where you are! I’ve always felt horrible and off-season when I tried to eat raw or juice cleanse when it’s wintertime. Thoughts?

Laura Wright18/11/2013 - 9:05 am

Hi Victoria! I’ll be talking about this next week a little bit. Sneak peek: I couldn’t do it for the full month. I didn’t feel absolutely horrible, but I knew some things were off and had to take some action. Thank you for commenting (and for reading)! :)
-L

Healing Tomato19/11/2013 - 9:29 pm

Those are some awesome pictures and I love your cooking style. It is truly unique!

Maya20/11/2013 - 1:48 am

I made this as soon as I saw the recipe, it is sooooo yummy! I can’t believe how much it is just like cake in terms of the frosting and texture. Have shared the recipe with lots of friends already and gave them a sample, they are all hooked! Thank you! XX

hungryandfrozen20/11/2013 - 1:55 pm

Hooray for learning as you go and for a recipe with 1:1 ratio of cake and icing! This recipe sounds super fun, I think I will definitely give it a go sometime. xx

[…] + Raw carrot cake with Tangy Citrus Frosting from The First Mess […]

Vic24/11/2013 - 3:59 pm

Can I use 1 cup almond flour and 1 cup brown rice flour!?
Can’t wait to try this!

Laura Wright24/11/2013 - 5:43 pm

Hi Vic, since this is a raw preparation, I’m not sure how good the brown rice flour would taste. I would go all almond flour if possible.
-L

vic24/11/2013 - 10:05 pm

I JUST TRIED IT AND ITS FREAKING AMAZING! how believe no sugar added :)

Maren25/11/2013 - 12:12 am

I made this for a Thanksgiving party today and everyone loved it! Thanks so much for this! Do you think it would work with oat flour?

Laura Wright26/11/2013 - 9:39 am

Hey Maren, I think you would still have to insure that half of the flour used is nut or seed based for texture maintenance. 1 cup of almond flour and 1 cup of oat flour sounds heavenly for this cake though :)
-L

tiffany26/11/2013 - 2:37 pm

very much laughing at “why did we buy this piece of shit!”

oh how during many, most.. all projects my husband might have said this very thing (while i am saying why did we move our whole lives and how did we possibly pick here?) but then i quickly defend against all reason, i love this house! don’t dare talk bad about it NOW, after we’re IN it, doing it, committed to the point of no return, don’t you dare! haha! (; and then all is good, until the next project. (;

Pop Chef09/12/2013 - 12:48 pm

Thanks for sharing your recipe, and your story. Good read.

Donna23/12/2013 - 10:42 pm

Discovered this recipe via Buzzfeed and made it today. It is freaking awesome! And the icing is fine in the food processor, just slightly gritty. But OMG this is so delicious! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

[…] that had me make a double-size cake with her three days later! That speaks for itself how good The First Mess’s recipe […]

Åsa29/03/2014 - 1:44 pm

Hi Laura,
This cake is just fantastic! And, surprisingly, the taste is even nicer after a couple of days.
My cake is quite wet, though, so I next time I’ll try and weigh the flour instead of using volume measure. I grate my almond and hazel nuts and suspect the result is much airier than the bought flour/meal would be. Brilliant either way, and I can see many other uses for the vegan + no refined sugar icing. Thanks again.

[…] Raw Carrot Cake Bites  […]

Sharna07/05/2014 - 12:33 am

I made this cake over the weekend and it was my first foray into raw vegan desserts. I can’t believe how yummy this was! I think I actually like this recipe over the traditional baked carrot cake recipes because the nuts make this dessert so rich and creamy. I am so impressed. This has now given me the push to continue exploring raw vegan recipes for my family! Thank you.

Jill05/07/2014 - 12:17 pm

Hi Laura,

I’m making this now and the frosting is seeming quite liquidy.. not creamy like you described. How thick should it be?

Thanks,
Jill

Laura Wright07/07/2014 - 5:38 pm

Hi Jill, My frosting for this started out quite liquidy too. It really benefits from some chill time in the fridge. Because of the coconut oil addition, the cool temperature should thicken the mixture up considerably. Hope that helps.
-L

Thea12/08/2014 - 3:54 pm

Just made this today and it is really delicios! I actually put half of the batch in the freezer, and they turned out like a frozen carrot cake cheese cake/fudge! Definitely a keeper – even my dad enjoyed them (score!) :-)

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