The perfect vanilla cake is light, fluffy, frosted and delicious. This Vegan Vanilla Cake recipe delivers on all counts! It is great for just about any occasion, totally customizable and incredibly easy to throw together. Let’s learn how to make it!
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Vegan Vanilla Cake Ingredients
The following ingredients work together to create a Vegan Vanilla Cake with a tender crumb, light texture, and delicious flavor, all while ensuring the cake rises properly and retains its structure.
- All Purpose Flour: Flour is the main ingredient in cake recipes as it provides structure and helps the cake to rise. All-purpose flour is used in this recipe as it strikes a balance between creating a tender texture and providing enough gluten formation for the cake to hold its shape.
- Sugar: Sugar not only adds sweetness to the cake but also contributes to its structure and moistness. It helps tenderize the cake by absorbing and retaining moisture, resulting in a soft and moist texture.
- Baking Powder: Baking powder is a leavening agent that helps the cake rise by creating carbon dioxide bubbles when mixed with moisture and heat. It provides additional lift to the cake, making it light and fluffy.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda is another leavening agent that reacts with acidic ingredients in the recipe, such as nondairy yogurt and nondairy milk. This reaction produces carbon dioxide, which causes the cake to rise further and creates a tender crumb.
- Salt: Salt enhances the flavor of the cake by balancing out the sweetness and other flavors. It also strengthens the cake’s structure and helps control the fermentation process caused by the leavening agents.
- Nondairy Yogurt: Nondairy yogurt acts as a substitute for traditional dairy yogurt in vegan baking. It adds moisture and richness to the cake, contributing to a tender texture. The acidity in the yogurt also interacts with the baking soda to create additional leavening. Look for unflavored and unsweetened.
- Nondairy Milk: Nondairy milk, such as almond, soy, or oat milk, is used to replace traditional dairy milk in vegan recipes. It adds moisture to the cake batter and helps achieve the desired consistency. The milk’s proteins also contribute to the overall structure of the cake.
- Canola Oil: Canola oil serves as a fat source in the recipe, adding moisture and richness to the cake. It helps keep the cake tender and moist while also providing a smooth texture. Canola oil is often preferred due to its neutral flavor, which allows the vanilla flavor to shine.
- Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract is an essential ingredient in vanilla cake recipes as it provides the distinct and delightful vanilla flavor. It adds depth and enhances the overall taste of the cake, making it more enjoyable.
Vegan Vanilla Frosting
Creating a vegan vanilla frosting that is creamy, flavorful, and dairy-free requires careful consideration of each ingredient if you want to achieve the perfect texture, taste, and sweetness. Understanding the role of each ingredient empowers you to create a delightful vegan vanilla frosting that will impress both vegans and non-vegans alike. Enjoy your cruelty-free and delicious frosting on cupcakes, cakes, or any sweet treat you desire!
Frosting Ingredients (Structure)
- Non-hydrogenated Shortening: This plant-based alternative to traditional shortenings, which typically contain animal-derived fats, helps create a stable and solid texture. It acts as the foundation for the frosting, providing a creamy base that holds its shape even at room temperature. Non-hydrogenated shortening is also crucial for achieving a light and fluffy consistency, making your vegan vanilla frosting perfect for spreading or piping onto your favorite treats.
- Vegan Butter: Vegan butter adds richness and depth of flavor to the vegan vanilla frosting. It provides the signature buttery taste that we associate with traditional frostings. The vegan butter also contributes to the overall creaminess and smoothness of the frosting, creating a velvety texture that is both indulgent and satisfying.
Frosting Ingredients (Flavor + Texture)
- Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar, or confectioners’ sugar, is a crucial component in vegan vanilla frosting. Apart from its sweetening properties, powdered sugar plays a significant role in thickening the frosting while maintaining its silky consistency. The fine texture of powdered sugar blends seamlessly with the other ingredients, ensuring a lump-free frosting that is easy to work with.
- Nondairy Milk: To achieve the desired consistency and balance the sweetness of the frosting, nondairy milk is an essential ingredient. Nondairy milk adds moisture to the frosting, helping to bind all the ingredients together. Additionally, it acts as a thinning agent, allowing you to adjust the frosting’s thickness to your preference while enhancing the creaminess and ensuring a smooth spread.
- Vanilla Extract: No vanilla frosting would be complete without the delightful aroma and flavor of vanilla extract. This ingredient brings a hint of warmth and sweetness to the frosting, elevating its taste profile. The aromatic compounds found in vanilla extract create a pleasant sensory experience, enhancing the overall appeal of your vegan vanilla frosting.
- Pinch of Salt: Although it may seem counterintuitive, adding a pinch of salt to your frosting is crucial for achieving a well-balanced flavor. Salt enhances the sweetness of the frosting by counteracting any excessive sugar taste, resulting in a more harmonious and satisfying experience.
Steps to Make Vegan Vanilla Cake (with pictures!)
- Start by whisking all of your dry ingredients together in a large bowl. You want to make sure all of your dry ingredients are evenly distributed before adding in the wet ingredients.
- Whisk together all of your wet ingredients in a small bowl before pouring the combined wet ingredients over the dry ingredients.
- Gently whisk together the dry and wet ingredients. You want to continue mixing until the ingredients are just combined. Do not over-mix! Continuing to mix after this point can negatively impact your final results.
- Distribute the prepared cake batter between 3 6-inch or 2 8-inch round cake pans lined with parchment paper. Immediately place on center rack of preheated oven. Once wet ingredients are added to dry, chemical reactions begin to take place. You want the majority of these to occur in the oven and not while the pan is sitting on your countertop.
How to Level Cake Layers
Leveling a cake layer is a fundamental step in cake baking and decorating. By using a serrated knife to trim off any unevenness or doming from the cake’s top, you create a smooth, even surface for perfect layering and frosting. This guide will walk you through the process of leveling a cake layer with a serrated knife, providing you with the necessary knowledge to achieve bakery-quality results.
Step-By-Step Guide For Cake Leveling
Step 1: Allow the Cake to Cool: Ensure your cake has cooled completely before attempting to level it. Warm cakes can be fragile and may crumble during the leveling process. Patience is key here!
Step 2: Assemble Your Tools: Gather the necessary tools for leveling your cake layer. You will need a serrated knife, a long ruler or cake leveler, and a rotating cake stand (optional but helpful). A serrated knife with a long blade is ideal for providing a clean and precise cut.
Step 3: Choose a Level Surface: Place your cake on a flat, stable surface such as a cake board or a turntable. The stability of the surface will help you maintain control while leveling the cake layer.
Step 4: Evaluate the Cake: Carefully examine the cake’s top surface to identify any unevenness or doming. If you notice a significant dome, it is essential to level it off to ensure consistent layering and even frosting.
Step 5: Mark the Desired Level: Using a long ruler or cake leveler, mark the desired height to which you want to level your cake layer. Place the ruler horizontally across the cake’s top and gently score the side of the cake at the desired level. This mark will serve as a visual guide during the leveling process.
Step 6: Begin Leveling: Hold the serrated knife parallel to the surface of the cake, aligning it with the marked line. Start cutting into the cake gently, using a sawing motion while applying light pressure. Slowly work your way across the cake, maintaining the knife parallel to the marked line. Continue to cut until the entire dome or uneven portion has been removed, and the cake is level.
Step 7: Check for Consistency: After leveling the cake, run your hand lightly over the surface to ensure it feels even. If you detect any uneven areas, make further adjustments using the serrated knife until you achieve a uniformly level cake layer.
Step 8: Clean Up the Crumbs: Once you have leveled the cake, use a clean, dry brush or a bench scraper to remove any loose crumbs from the top and sides of the cake. This step ensures a clean canvas for frosting and decorating.
Why Leveling is Important
- Even Layering: Leveling the cake layer helps create uniformity in the height of each layer, resulting in a professional-looking cake. This consistency allows for better layering, filling, and stacking, ensuring an aesthetically pleasing presentation.
- Balanced Frosting Distribution: A leveled cake layer offers a flat surface for the frosting, allowing it to spread evenly across the cake’s top and sides. This promotes a visually appealing and balanced distribution of frosting, enhancing both the taste and appearance of the final product.
- Enhanced Stability: A leveled cake layer provides a stable foundation for multi-layered cakes, reducing the risk of toppling or sliding. It enables you to build a structurally sound cake that can withstand additional decorations, such as fondant or heavy toppings.
Mastering the technique of leveling a cake layer with a serrated knife is essential for achieving professional-looking cakes. By following the step-by-step guide above, you can easily level your cake layers, ensuring even layering, balanced frosting distribution, and enhanced stability. So, next time you bake a cake, remember to level it for a flawless and impressive result that will delight both your eyes and taste buds.
Tips for Making Vegan Vanilla Cake
Remember, baking is a science, so it’s essential to follow the recipe carefully and make adjustments as needed based on the specific ingredients and oven you’re using.
- One of the best ways to ensure a fabulous layer cake is to get ahead. The best way to achieve this when making this recipe is to bake your cake layers the day before you intend to assemble, frost and serve. Bake your cakes and allow them to cool completely. Wrap each individual layer tightly in plastic wrap and let them sit in the fridge overnight. This will make them easier to level and will reduce the amount of loose crumbs.
- Only line the bottom of you pans with parchment paper. Trace the bottom of your cake pans over a sheet of parchment paper with a pencil. Cut out paper circles with scissors cutting slightly within the traced line. Lightly spray each pan with oil before placing the parchment paper in the pan. This will help keep it in place.
- Choose high-quality ingredients: Opt for fresh and high-quality plant-based ingredients to ensure the best flavor and texture in your cake.
- Don’t over-mix the batter. Over-mixing can lead to a dense and tough cake. Mix the ingredients until just combined to avoid developing too much gluten.
- Let the cake cool completely before frosting. Allowing the cake to cool completely before applying the frosting prevents it from melting and sliding off the cake.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to make fluffy vegan cakes:
To make fluffy vegan cakes, there are a few key considerations and ingredients you can incorporate:
- Use a combination of leavening agents: Vegan cakes benefit from a combination of baking powder and baking soda. These leavening agents help the cake rise and create a light, fluffy texture.
- Opt for a neutral oil: Replace butter with a neutral-tasting oil such as canola oil or coconut oil. These oils help keep the cake moist and tender.
- Sift the dry ingredients: Sifting the flour, baking powder, and baking soda helps incorporate air into the mixture and ensures even distribution, resulting in a lighter cake.
- Avoid overmixing: When combining the wet and dry ingredients, be careful not to overmix the batter. Overmixing can lead to a dense and heavy cake. Mix until just combined.
What is left out of vegan cake?
The main ingredients left out of vegan cakes are eggs, milk and butter. Fortunately, all of these ingredients have high-quality vegan alternatives. In this recipe, a combination of leaveners and nondairy yogurt are used to replicate the impact of eggs in a cake recipe and nondairy milk and canola oil replace dairy milk and butter. By excluding animal-derived ingredients and utilizing suitable vegan substitutes, it is possible to create delicious and cruelty-free vegan cakes.
Is white cake mix vegan?
Not all white cake mixes are vegan, as they often contain ingredients like eggs and dairy. However, there are some brands that offer vegan-friendly cake mixes, or you can adapt a regular cake mix to make it vegan. When looking for a vegan white cake mix, it’s important to carefully read the ingredient list or look for products labeled as vegan or plant-based. Additionally, you can explore vegan recipes online (like the one below!) that provide instructions on how to modify a regular white cake mix by substituting the non-vegan ingredients with suitable alternatives like plant-based milk, vegan egg replacers, and vegetable oil.
What flour is best for vegan vanilla cake?
For a vegan vanilla cake, the best flour option is all-purpose flour. All-purpose flour is versatile, readily available and it provides a good balance between structure and tenderness, resulting in a moist and fluffy cake. If you want a lighter texture, you can sift the all-purpose flour before using it.
Why is my vegan cake so dry?
If your vegan cake is turning out dry, there could be a few possible reasons and solutions:
- Over-baking: One common reason for dryness in cakes is overbaking. Vegan cakes may have slightly different baking times compared to non-vegan cakes due to the absence of eggs and dairy. Check your cake for doneness a few minutes before the recommended baking time. Insert a toothpick or skewer into the center of the cake, and if it comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, the cake is done. If it comes out completely clean, it may be overbaked. Reduce the baking time for future attempts.
- Insufficient moisture: Vegan cakes may require additional moisture due to the absence of eggs and dairy. Ensure that you are using sufficient wet ingredients in the recipe, such as plant-based milk, oil, or other liquid substitutes. Consider adding an extra tablespoon or two of liquid to the batter to increase moisture.
- Inaccurate measurements: Precise measurements are crucial for baking. If the dry ingredients, such as flour, are measured incorrectly, it can affect the moisture balance in the cake. Use measuring cups or a kitchen scale for accurate measurements. Additionally, ensure that the flour is not packed tightly into the measuring cup, as it can lead to a dense and dry cake. Fluff the flour with a spoon, gently spoon it into the measuring cup, and level it off.
Vanilla Cake Customization Ideas
There are countless ways to customize a vanilla cake recipe to suit your preferences and add delightful flavors. Here are some ideas to inspire your creativity:
- Fruit Variations:
- Add fresh or frozen berries (such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries) to the batter for bursts of fruity flavor.
- Citrus Infusions:
- Zest and juice of citrus fruits like lemon, lime, or orange can add a refreshing citrusy taste. Mix the zest into the batter and replace some of the liquid with freshly squeezed citrus juice.
- Create a citrus glaze by combining powdered sugar with citrus juice and drizzling it over the cooled cake.
- Nutty Enhancements:
- Fold in chopped nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pecans into the batter for added crunch and flavor.
- Spiced Delights:
- Add warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger to the batter to create a cozy and aromatic vanilla spice cake.
- Incorporate a touch of cardamom or cloves for an exotic twist.
- Decadent Fillings and Frostings:
- Creative Toppings:
- Decorate the cake with fresh fruit slices, edible flowers, or shredded coconut for an attractive presentation.
- Sprinkle toasted nuts, chocolate shavings, or colorful sprinkles on top for added texture and visual appeal.
Remember to adjust ingredient quantities and baking times accordingly when making modifications to the recipe. Be adventurous, trust your taste preferences, and have fun customizing your vanilla cake to make it uniquely yours.
How to Serve/Store Vegan Vanilla Cake
Serve with style! Once your cake is assembled and decorated, place it on a cake stand or serving platter for an elegant presentation. Use a cake server or a sharp knife to cut clean slices, wiping after each cut. Serve each slice on individual dessert plates or bowls.
If desired, serve your vegan vanilla cake with additional garnishes like fresh berries, a dusting of powdered sugar, a dollop of vegan whipped cream, or a drizzle of vegan caramel or chocolate sauce. It’s also absolutely delicious served plain as outlined in the recipe below. Trust me!
Remember to inform your guests that the cake is vegan, so they are aware of its ingredients and can enjoy it with confidence.
An assembled Vegan Vanilla Cake will keep for 2-3 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature. If you don’t have a cake stand with a lid, a large pot will work just fine in its place. You can extend the shelf life of this cake to 4-5 days by storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Just know that this will make the cake slightly less light and moist.
If you make this recipe, please tag @censoredbaker on Instagram!Print
Vegan Vanilla Cake
Light, fluffy and delicious vanilla cake. Totally egg and dairy free, completely customizable and easy to make.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 1 6 or 8-inch Cake 1x
- Category: Cakes and Cupcakes
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
For the Cake
3 c all purpose flour
2 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c nondairy yogurt
1 c nondairy milk
1 c canola oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
For the Frosting
1/4 c vegan butter
3 c powdered sugar
tbsp nondairy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
- Prepare the Batter: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C) and line 3 6-inch or 2 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.* Set aside. Add all purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a large bowl and whisk together. In a smaller bowl, whisk together nondairy yogurt, nondairy milk, canola oil and vanilla extract. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix together until just combined. Do not over-mix.
- Bake: Pour cake batter into prepared pans taking care to distribute the batter evenly between them. Bake cakes in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until they are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with only a few crumbs clinging to it. Allow cakes to cool in their pans for 1 hour before carefully turning them out onto a wire cooling rack.
- Prepare the Frosting: While cakes are cooling prepare the frosting. Add shortening and vegan butter to a large bowl and beat together using an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy. This should take 30 to 60 seconds. Add powdered sugar, nondairy milk, vanilla extract and salt to the bowl. Beat until frosting comes together. Start at a low speed to ensure powdered sugar doesn’t fly all over your kitchen.
- Assemble and Decorate: Once cakes are completely cool it is time to frost! If you would like to level your cakes*, now is the time to do so. Set one layer of cake on a serving plate and spread a layer of frosting over the top using an offset spatula. Top with another cake layer and spread with more frosting. If you are making a 3-layer cake, repeat this step once more. Spread remaining frosting over the sides of the cake.
*Prepared cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. If you don’t have a cake stand that will accommodate the size of the cake, turn a large pot over it instead. Unfrosted cake layers can be frozen for up to 1 month.
*When lining cake pans with parchment paper, it is best for the paper to only cover the bottom of the pan. You don’t want the parchment pressing up against the sides. To accomplish this, trace the bottom of your cake pan over a sheet of parchment paper and cut it out using scissors. Cut slightly inside the line. It should fit perfectly!
*While leveling cake layers isn’t totally necessary, I would highly recommend it. Using a sharp serrated knife, gently slide the knife across the dome-shaped top of your cake. You will be holding the knife horizontally. See instructions above.
*Investing in a cake turntable is a great way to more easily frost and level your cakes.
*This cake it totally customizable flavor-wise! See above section for ideas!
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