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Vegan Mandarin Orange & Fig Carrot Cake with Cashew Frosting (also refined-sugar free!)

Updated: May 28, 2020

So... it's February 2020. My last post was 29 December 2019. Hi, everyone. Sorry for the delay on updating this space. 2020 really started off being pretty overwhelming. Around the world, many events have been happening at the same time, such as bushfires in Australia (breaks my heart), floods in certain countries (also breaks my heart), the new coronavirus which is now dubbed Covid-19, etc. In fact, my country is one of those affected by this new virus, making life a whole lot busier, especially at school (where I work) as everyone is taking added precautionary measures. Hence, personally, it has just been wave after wave of busyness, leaving me very tired, with very little time for rest and much less time for baking and blogging. And if I do find some time to bake something, I would usually just bake the cookie dough balls I had stashed away in the freezer since last Christmas (which have, sadly, been demolished just over the past weekend, every single last one of them).

Yet in spite of all these things, there have been many good things as well, for which I give thanks. For one, in spite of this virus going around, my family and I are safe, and opportunities have even arisen for me to reach out to and encourage the people around me who are more directly affected by the situation (such as healthcare workers). Also, I have been busy preparing some new and good things that would come soon the future (more on that next time, perhaps). So yes, it has been busy-busy-busy, but I am eternally grateful to God for all that has happened so far in the year.

This is actually my first vegan cake. Prior to this cake, I had never made any vegan dessert before, so this was new and exciting territory for me. I made this cake last month in celebration of the Lunar New Year and my mum's birthday (which coincided with the first day of the Lunar New Year). I made the cake vegan not because my mum is vegan, but because I had initially thought that my cousin was vegan. It turned out that he's actually vegetarian. Nevertheless, I'm glad I made it a vegan carrot cake! To be honest though, I was so worried while I was transporting the cake to my aunt's house that day because the cashew frosting was melting very rapidly (it was an incredibly hot day and let me just clarify and say that coconut oil is not solid at 30°C room temperature). Thankfully, the cake made it in one piece, much to my relief.

That night, we gathered around the table after having a home-cooked Lunar New Year dinner; and, having sung the birthday song in English and Mandarin, we cut into the cake and thoroughly enjoyed eating it.

Hope you try making this cake and let me know if you bake it! Happy baking!


Vegan Mandarin Orange & Fig Carrot Cake with Cashew Frosting

Makes one three layer 6-inch cake

Adapted from Minimalist Baker


For the cashew frosting:

  • 180 g (1 1/2 cups) raw cashews, soaked in hot water 1 hour

  • 120 ml (1/2 cup or 105 g) full-fat coconut cream

  • 45-60 ml (3 to 4 Tbs) maple syrup

  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) melted coconut oil

  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest

  • 15-30 ml (1 to 2 Tbs) lemon juice

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

For the cake:

  • 235 g (1 cup) mandarin orange puree

  • 3 batches chia eggs (3 Tbsp chia seed + 7 ½ Tbsp water)

  • 80 ml (1/3 cup or 70 g) melted coconut oil

  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup

  • 150 g (3/4 cup) coconut sugar

  • 3/4 tsp sea salt

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) plain unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy unsweetened milk)

  • 170 g (1 1/2 cup) loosely packed grated carrot

  • 168 g (1 1/2 cup) almond flour

  • 150 g (1 1/2 cup) spelt flour

  • 100 g dried figs, roughly chopped


Make the cashew frosting:

  1. Soak cashews in very hot water for 1 hour. Drain thoroughly and add the cashews to a blender. Add remaining ingredients into the blender.

  2. Blend until creamy and very smooth, scraping down sides as needed.

  3. Taste and adjust flavor as needed (e.g. add more maple syrup if you want it sweeter, or more lemon zest if you want it tangier).

  4. Transfer frosting to a medium mixing bowl and cover with cling wrap. Place in the freezer and chill for 45 minutes. Then remove from freezer and whisk with a whisk or hand mixer. Freeze for another 1 hour and whisk again. Then leave in the freezer until semi-firm to the touc, about 2 to 4 hours. Use a hand mixer to blend until creamy and smooth.

  5. You can now use your frosting. Set aside in the fridge until you are ready to frost the cake. The frosting can be stored in the fridge up to 5-7 days, or in the freezer one month.

Make the cake:

  1. You would want to make the mandarin orange puree first. Place about 3 medium sized mandarin oranges in a large pot and cover with water. Cook for about 1 hour until the oranges have become soft. Set them aside to cool completely or place them in a bowl of ice water so that they would cool down more quickly. Once the oranges have cooled, slide them and remove all the seeds. The oranges will be very soft so the seeds will be easy to remove. Place the oranges in a blender and blend until a puree.

  2. Preheat the oven to 176°C. Grease, line and flour three 6-inch round cake pans.

  3. Prepare chia eggs in a large mixing bowl. To chia eggs, add oil and maple syrup and whisk to combine.

  4. Add orange puree, coconut sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon and whisk to combine.

  5. Stir in the almond milk and grated carrot. Then add almond flour and gluten-free flour blend and stir. Stir in the dried figs.

  6. Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

  7. Remove from the oven and let rest in the pans for 15 minutes. Then carefully run a knife along the edges and gently invert onto cooling racks to let cool completely. The cakes, once completely cool, freeze well. If you are making the cake in advance, wrap the cooled cakes well in cling wrap and aluminium foil. Freeze for up to one month.

Assemble the cake:

  1. Fit a piping bag with a french star piping tip. Fill the piping bag with cashew frosting.

  2. Place a cake board on a cake turntable. Put the first cake layer onto the cake board. Pipe the cashew frosting onto the cake layer, starting from the edge of the cake and working inwards until the entire layer is covered with the frosting. Stack the second cake layer on top and repeat the piping process. Stack the final cake layer and repeat the piping process.

  3. Decorate the cake with slices of mandarin oranges. Serve and enjoy!


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