Carrot cake is my favorite cake to enjoy, especially in the spring when it seems to be the most popular. In fact, I don’t really like cake (don’t gasp, I can hear you) with the exception of carrot cake. Seriously, I have had people make me birthday “cakes” out of nachos. When I got married, carrot cake was the only kind I would approve of for my wedding cake. If you’re thinking of making carrot cake for any of your celebrations, why not take a detour from the traditional and try a new way to enjoy carrot cake? Here are some carrot cake variations to try for spring that will change everything you knew about one of America’s favorite cakes (and mine too!).

1. Gluten-Free


It isn’t hard to convert any carrot cake recipe into a gluten-free one. All you have to do is swap out the flour for a gluten-free flour blend. You can buy one or make your own. All you need to know about gluten-free baking can be found in The Ultimate Gluten-Free Vegan Baking Substitution Guide. I find I don’t need xanthan gum when I make my Gluten-Free and Vegan Carrot Cake with Walnuts and Cream Cheese Frosting. What’s my secret to a moist and fluffy cake? Add lots of shredded carrots. See How to Ensure Your Gluten-Free Baked Goods are Moist for more secrets and tips.


2. Raw


If you eat a raw diet, you don’t need to miss out on cake. We have lots of carrot cake recipes that require no baking at all. Try this Divine Carrot Cake, Raw Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting and this Raw Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting which all use dates instead of sugar. This Raw Mandarin Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream has a subtle citrus sweetness from the oranges.

3. Cupcakes


Sometimes you don’t want to make a big cake. Cupcakes are all the rage and they are so much fun. Everyone gets their own little carrot cupcake. Plus, it’s instant portion control. You don’t need a whole new recipe to make cupcakes instead of the big cake. To convert a cake recipe to cupcakes, there are 3 steps: first, choose a recipe that is moist. Since the cupcakes are smaller, they need more moisture to not dry out. Second, line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and fill the tins up to ¾ full with batter. Third, bake the cupcakes at the same temperature as the cake recipe states but only 1/3 the time. Cupcakes are smaller and take much less time to bake. For more recipes, cooked and raw, try these Cute Vegan Carrot Cupcakes, Raw Carrot-Orange Cupcakes, Carrot Collective Cupcakes, and Raw Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.


4. Muffins


Maybe you’re like me and don’t have a sweet tooth or maybe you want to enjoy the taste of carrot cake at every meal including breakfast. I totally understand. Using the flavors of carrot cake to make muffins is a great idea. Try these Carrot Cake Muffin Tops because we all know the best part of a muffin is the muffin top. These Carrot-Apple Muffins and Carrot Gingerbread Muffins are yummy variations of carrot-y goodness while these Zen Fusion Carrot Cake Muffins with Pecan Frosting are filled with apple puree, bananas, spices and coffee!

5. Minis


Another way to enjoy carrot cake in smaller sizes is to make mini-cakes. I simply use 1/8 the amount of flour and other ingredients to bake small cakes that feed one or two people in ½-cup ramekins. They only need to bake about 15 minutes so you can be sitting down to a delicious piece of carrot cake in no time. Or try these Raw Mini Carrot Cakes and these Raw Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Hearts for beautiful and tasty treats.


6. Cookies and Bites


If you really want to treat someone with something specially make them some carrot cake cookies. These Carrot Cake Cookies with Lemon Cream Frosting are chewy, sweet but not too sweet and filled with carrots, oats and raisins. The lemon cream frosting is raw and made from cashews and maple syrup. What a perfect treat! Or go even smaller with these Carrot Cake Bites which have all the flavor of carrot cake without the flour.

7. Breakfast


Carrot cake is so good, we should eat it for every meal of the day including breakfast. One way to eat carrot cake for breakfast is to make this Carrot Cake Oatmeal with Ginger Spiced Cashew Cream. You get all the decadent flavor of carrot cake in a breakfast that is healthy and good for you! This Carrot Walnut Bread is also a perfect way to start the day.


My favorite pancakes are made with buckwheat flour and I love turning them into Carrot Cake Buckwheat Pancakes: in a small bowl or mug, add 1 Tbs. ground flaxseed and 3 Tbs. warm water. Mix and let stand about 10 minutes until it has thickened. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup buckwheat flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, ½ tsp. ground ginger, ½ tsp. kosher salt and 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg. In another bowl, combine 1½ cup non-dairy milk, 2 Tbs. brown sugar, the flax gel, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and whisk until the batter is smooth. Fold in 1 cup of shredded carrots. Let the batter rest for about 15 minutes at room temperature. Melt some vegan butter in a non-stick pan or on a griddle over medium heat. Pour ¼ cup of batter onto the pan for each pancake. When the top forms bubbles and you can see the edges getting brown, gently flip the pancake to cook on the other side. They should be golden brown. Transfer 3-4 pancakes to a plate and top with butter and maple syrup. You can also add the flavor of carrot cake to your waffle batter if you prefer waffles to pancakes.

In my opinion, carrot cake is the best cake in the world. So why not take those flavors and add them to waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, smoothies, dips, ice cream and any recipe you can find? Just another reason to look forward to spring!

Lead Image Photo: Raw Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting