Moist and Decadent Vegan Cake

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Lemon Vanilla cake with a Raspberry Champagne frosting

This cake breaks some baking rules and uses a scale for precise measurement and guaranteed success. Normally I would also include the cups and tablespoon measurement, but for a cake recipe like this one the ingredients need to be precise. Also, fun fact, depending on how you scoop your flour you could have wildly different results. The best way to scoop, if you’re using the US measurement system of cups, is to take a spoon and pour the flour into the measuring cup so that it allows some air into the flour. Taste of Home’s James Schend has a great video on this process. (If you really are nice to me I’ll give you a rough estimate of cup conversion.)

This recipe is equal parts ingredients and process so make sure to follow the directions carefully.  I have used this recipe many times and customized the flavor to make two different wedding cakes. It also works well for cupcakes or a simple 9″ round cake. Each time guests were amazed to find out it was vegan, and they were delighted with the cake’s moist texture and rich taste.

Ingredients

  • 6 Tbl aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

  • 1 3/4 cup oat milk (or other non-dairy)
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tsp vanilla

  • 324 grams cake flour (info below on making your own)
  • 36 grams potato starch
  • 324 grams sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 138 grams vegetable oil
  • 50 grams vegetable shortening

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil two 8″ (or 9″) round cake pans and cut a parchment layer for the bottom of the pan. The parchment ensures that the cake will depan cleanly which helps with frosting later on.

Add vinegar to milk, stir, and let sit while you put together the of other ingredients.

Whip the aquafaba and cream of tartar until it reaches soft peak stage. Set aside for last.

In a bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients. Sift them using a flour sifter or a mesh strainer to remove any clumps. Don’t have cake flour? Remove 1 Tbl of flour for every 1 cup of flour and replace it with 1 Tbl of corn starch.

Whisk together the oil and shortening. Add the dry ingredients to the oil and mix until fully combined. It is easier to use a stand mixer or hand mixer for this stage but a heavy spoon will work too.

Add vanilla to the milk/vinegar mix. Pour into the rest of the ingredients and mix until no dry ingredients remain. Fold in the aquafaba. It it’s looking watery whisk until back to soft peak stage.

Divide the batter between the two pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Toothpick or cake tester should come out clean and the tops should look glossy but firm. Let cool in pans for 10 mins then transfer to wire rack. Cool completely before frosting. Or, if you’re making these ahead, let cool completely then wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil for freezing.

Shortening Frosting recipe 

  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2-3/4 cup milk
  • pinch of salt

Whisk all ingredients together. Gradually add in the milk to reach desired consistency. For a frosting that is more firm and will dry harder add in 1 tsp guar gum to the powdered sugar before adding the other ingredients.

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Lavender vanilla cake with lavender frosting


Explanation of process

Typically when making a cake or cookies you cream the butter and the sugar then mix in the milk and lastly the remaining dry ingredients. That process is designed to fully incorporate the butter and sugar into the wet so that there aren’t any chunks in your final product. Also, you mix the flour in last so that you don’t form gluten which would make your cake, cookies, or quick bread tough.

This recipe does things a little backwards. Mixing the fats (oil and shortening) with the dry ingredients encapsulates the flour and lessens the wheat proteins (glutenin and gliadin) from combining when liquid is added.  This allows you to fully mix the liquid into the other ingredients without having to be quite so careful with folding the flour in.

Want to change up the flavor?

If you are going to add in any liquid flavoring take that into account with the milk and vanilla measurement and make sure you’re using equal amounts of liquid ratios.

For the lavender cake I started the day or two prior to baking to make baking day less of a process. I heated the milk to a simmer and steeped 1 Tbl of crushed food safe lavender for 30 minutes. I strained it using a fine mesh strainer then a cheese cloth to remove all particulates. I put it into a canning jar and refrigerated it.

For the lemon vanilla cake I added 2 Tbl of lemon zest to the oil and shortening and swapped the apple cider vinegar for 2 Tbl of lemon juice. The slight difference between 2 tsp vinegar and 2 Tbl lemon juice didn’t affect the cake’s moisture.

If you are going to color your cake I suggest using gel food coloring. Gel is more potent and you can get a vibrant color without a lot of extra liquid to your batter.

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This recipe makes two thick 8″ round cakes or two good sized 9″ cakes. If you want to make this into a tiered cake I suggest the following: multiply ingredients by 1.5x for two 10″ round cakes and use the recipe for two 6″ rounds with leftover batter for 10 cupcakes. Why do subtraction math when you could have cupcakes!

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First ever wedding cake. Bride and Groom wanted the rustic “naked cake” style.

If you make this recipe let me know how it goes! If you need some tips on making a tiered cake let me know. I learned a lot from my first attempt, which looks a little saggy in the pic above because I transported it built for a 30 min drive. Even with a center spike it still shifted a bit. I also didn’t freeze the layers on a flat surface and they froze with some interesting angles that let to frosting issues. But, that’s how we learn right!

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Built the cake onsite so I didn’t have to worry about transportation.

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Outdoor wedding and it was getting a bit warm for the frosting. But it was still delicious!

 

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