Autumn Royalty

Take a cue from fall foliage to prepare these plant-based goodies

BY Eliza Schuett

Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Icing. Photo by Eliza Schuett
Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Icing. Photo by Eliza Schuett

There’s nothing like the smell of fall in the kitchen, from sweet classics like pumpkin pie and carrot cake to savory casseroles that warm the house like a cozy sweater. Fresh produce is the crown jewel of this season, with hues from deep reds and warm browns to pale oranges and dusty pinks inspiring hearty dishes and decadent desserts.

What better way to celebrate the gorgeous colors of the fall season than with some new plant-based recipes?

Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Icing

Carrots, apples and cinnamon, oh my! These classic fall flavors are the terrific trio of seasonal baking and produce the same deep reddish-brown hue of our stunning late fall marsh. Be warned: this carrot loaf is devilishly sneaky. It’s not quite sweet enough to be a dessert but has a tad more sugar than your average slice of bread. It tempts even the strongest wills at breakfast, lunch, dinner and every waking hour in between. And that’s without its partner in crime: dairy-free cream cheese icing. This innocent-looking icing harbors hints of cinnamon and is utterly irresistible. 

Butternut Squash Hummus

Butternut squash is pumpkin’s more sophisticated cousin. Each velvety bite of roasted butternut squash strikes a magnificent balance between sweet and savory, and its refined light orange shade is reminiscent of the leaves beginning to turn. Add some to your next batch of hummus and serve the rest as a side dish or in a fall salad. Not a fan of butternut squash? Experiment with roasted beets for a royal magenta hummus with earthy notes, or roasted pumpkin for a brighter orange and a sweeter, more traditional fall flavor. 

Twice-baked Potatoes

Twice-baked potatoes are crowd pleasers. The vivacious combination of yellow-orange melted cheese and energetic green chives are the opening act for the real star of this show: the humble potato. A plain, starchy potato transforms into a luscious treat with the right seasoning and care, while retaining its unassuming neutral coloring. Plant-based sour cream, butter and coconut milk whip the plain Jane into a princess, while “better-than-bacon” sauteed mushrooms add a savory element and rich color that complements our fair potato. Every Cinderella needs a Prince Charming. 

Sugar Cookies with Frosting

As temperatures cool and leaves start to fall, it’s impossible to deny that baking season has arrived. But we certainly don’t have to wait for freezing rain to begin making the queen of all baked goods: the frosted sugar cookie. This baking project is simple, and perfect for little ones. The soft, sweet sugar cookies with gentle almond notes are delectable by themselves, but whipped frosting brings them to life. Drops of red and yellow food coloring produce a lovely light orange that edges toward salmon with additional red. Look outside for color inspiration or use your imagination. And of course, don’t forget to taste along the way!

Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Icing

Vegan recipe.  

*The icing also works with dairy ingredients. 

Carrot Loaf

Wet ingredients: 

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar (dark or light)
  • 1 ½ cups grated carrots
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 6 Tbsp aquafaba (juice from a can of chickpeas or light beans)

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • Pecans or walnuts (optional)

*Cream cheese icing

  • 2 Tbsp vegan butter
  • 4 oz vegan cream cheese
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract


1.  Preheat oven and prepare pan: Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 1 or 1 ½ -pound loaf pan using vegan butter and all-purpose flour.  Set aside. 

2. Prep dry ingredients: Combine dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and toss to combine. 

3. Prep wet ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, gently combine all wet ingredients with a spatula. Add dry ingredients and stir until combined. The batter should be thick. Fold in ½ cup of nuts if desired.

4. Bake: Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours once cool. 

5. Prepare frosting: Soften butter and cream cheese at room temperature for 1-3 hours. Add cinnamon, powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. The frosting will have a consistency between a frosting and a glaze. 

6. Frost and enjoy: Remove chilled loaf from pan and place onto parchment. Gently scoop icing onto loaf and spread with offset spatula. Slice and enjoy. To store, cover and refrigerate for up  to 5-7 days.

Adapted from Sally Baking Addiction’s Carrot Cake Loaf.

Photo by Eliza Schuett

Butternut Squash Hummus


  • 2 cups roasted butternut squash
  • 2 cups dried chickpeas (or 3-4 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 4-5 lemons
  • 3-4 Tbsp tahini
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds (optional garnish)


1. Rehydrate chickpeas: If using dried chickpeas, put in a medium saucepan and cover with an inch or two of water. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then turn off heat and let sit for 1 hour. Drain the water and add the chickpeas back into the pot.

2. Cook chickpeas: Cover with 2-3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer with lid slightly ajar for 3-4 hours. To test, carefully remove one from the pot, and squeeze gently once cool. If done, you’ll easily crush the soft chickpea. If they need more time, your test chickpea may be more difficult to squeeze or feel a little grainier.

3. Roast butternut squash: Peel and dice butternut squash. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 350 for 30-60 minutes, flipping halfway through. The cubes are done when you can easily pierce with a fork. For extra flavor, pull them out when they begin to brown.

4. Blend and taste: Put all ingredients into a food processor, blender, or large bowl if using an immersion blender, and blend until homogenous. Taste, and adjust as needed. For creamier hummus add more olive oil. To offset bitterness from tahini, add more lemon juice. Garnish with sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and olive oil if desired. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 

Photo by Eliza Schuett

Twice Baked  Potatoes 

Plant-based recipe. This recipe also works with dairy ingredients.


  • 4 russet potatoes
  • ½ cup vegan sour cream 
  • ½ cup salted butter
  • ¼ cup unsweetened plain plant-based milk such as oat, almond or coconut
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • Vegan cheddar cheese
  • Chives (optional garnish)

Sautéed mushrooms (optional):

  • 1 package mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 Tbsp cooking oil such as grapeseed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1–2 Tbsp soy sauce


1. Prepare potatoes: Preheat oven to 350. Wash potatoes and wrap in foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 60-120 minutes. When finished, potatoes will be slightly soft. To test, gently squeeze while wearing an oven mitt, or carefully unwrap and pierce with a fork. The fork should enter and exit easily. Let potatoes cool until you can comfortably handle them.

2. Prepare mushrooms (optional): Clean and thinly slice mushrooms. Sauté on medium heat in a little cooking oil. Add a pinch of salt. When mushrooms release juices, add soy sauce and sauté for 2-3 more minutes until mushrooms reabsorb most of the sauce. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Scoop potatoes: Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides with a spoon, starting from the middle and working toward the edges. Leave a small layer of potato on the skin to hold the shape. Add insides to a large mixing bowl with butter.

4. Season potatoes: Using a hand mixer or potato masher, mix with butter, sour cream, plant milk, salt and pepper. Taste and season until potatoes have desired flavor. Be careful not to overmix or potatoes will become gluey.

5. Finish potatoes: Place potato mixture back into skin and top with sautéed mushrooms and cheese. Bake covered for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Garnish with chives and enjoy!

Photo by Eliza Schuett

Sugar Cookies with Frosting

Vegan recipe.

*The frosting also works with dairy ingredients

Ingredients for cookies: 

  • ⅓ cup softened unsalted vegan butter
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp aquafaba (juice from a can of chickpeas or light beans)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp almond extract
  • 1 Tbsp coconut milk
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Vegan sprinkles (optional)

*Ingredients for frosting: 

  • ½ cup softened unsalted vegan butter 
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp almond extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Food coloring


1. Preheat oven and prepare dry ingredients: Preheat oven to 325. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir gently to combine. Set aside. 

2. Combine dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, beat softened unsalted vegan butter and vegetable oil with an electric hand mixer until smooth and homogenous. Add granulated sugar, powdered sugar, aquafaba, vanilla, almond extract and coconut milk and beat until combined. 

3. Add wet ingredients: In two batches, add dry ingredients to wet, mixing in between. Form into golf ball-sized scoops, and chill for at least 10 minutes. 

4. Bake: Place balls onto a lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Do not flatten the dough balls — they will spread as they bake. There is a very fine line between underbaking and overbaking these cookies. They should not have any golden brown color around the edges. When they come out of the oven, the top should be barely set. If you touch the top of the cookie, it may jiggle slightly, but you shouldn’t be able to see where you touched the cookie.

5. Prepare frosting: Using a hand mixer, beat all frosting ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl until homogenous. Add food coloring and mix until you have your desired color. 

6. Frost cookies: Once cookies have cooled completely, frost using a knife or offset spatula, then add vegan sprinkles on top if desired. Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Notes: The frosting melts easily, so it is important to frost cookies that have cooled completely, and keep frosting away from direct sunlight. Adapted from Broma Bakery’s Copycat Lofthouse Cookies.

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