Dairy-Free Carrot Cupcakes with Orange ‘Butter’ Icing

Success! The lactose free/dairy free cupcakes came out absolutely fine and passed the taste test – phew!


I made a pretty standard carrot cake sponge with all spice , orange zest and pecans which uses sunflower oil instead of butter anyway. I think it would probably be quite easy to convert this to a vegan recipe too (although I am not sure how well egg substitutes work). The ‘butter’ icing was made using Vitalite (Oooh, oooh, oh, oh Vitalite!) which I was really unsure about before I did it – I was worried it would taste funny (artificial?) and be very runny. I didn’t really find any conclusive information or success stories on the internet either, other than it was possible and better than other alternatives (except perhaps Trex but I couldn’t get that at Sainsburys) It was actually pretty easy to work with although it needs more icing sugar than normal and it tasted nice (a bit like the butter icing my mum used to make us as kids – I am now assuming she used to use marg rather than butter) to make it taste a bit more grown-up I used orange essence (I like the Nielson-Massey one) which also went well with the orange zest in the cake. I think the icing needs a bit of time to dry out (which is the opposite of what you normally want) so I am leaving them overnight and I am going to take them to the party straight from the fridge tomorrow because it is due to be super hot and I am not sure how they will do in the heat given the icing is a bit less stable than usual.

On to the recipe

The cakey bit:

  • 175g Light brown muscovado sugar (make sure it is all separated, if you put it in the microwave for 10 seconds it will help it be less clumpy)
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • zest 1 orange
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml sunflower oil
  • 200g grated carrots

The icing bit:

  • 150g Vitalite dairy free margarine
  • 300g icing sugar (sifted)
  • 2 teaspoons orange essence


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cases.
  2. Zest the orange and chop the pecans
  3. In a big bowl combine together the sugar, flours, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and orange zest.
  4. Whisk together the eggs and oil
  5. Stir the wet stuff into the into the dry ingredients and add the orange juice, grated carrot and pecans.
  6. Put the mixtures in the cases and bake for 20-22 mins until a skewer poked in comes out clean and they are nice and bouncy on top.
  7. Make sure they are cold before icing them
  8. For the icing, whip up the Vitalite  straight from the fridge with an electric whisk until it is soft and fluffy, add the orange essence and then add the icing sugar a 100g at a time until it is holding its shape (not too soft). If it is a hot day I would put the icing in the fridge for half an hour before trying to pipe it. Pipe on to the cakes. I did rose piping today because it felt like a pretty, summery thing to do.