The Cake Merchant · Jan 29, 2014

Vegan Vanilla Birthday Cake

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to incorporate more vegan meals into my diet. Last year, I found myself becoming a bit of a cheese-itarian, falling back on grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and other things covered in cheese too many nights of the week. So in my quest to become healthier, I decided to make this cake. Um….

Totally kidding. This cake may be vegan, but it is NOT health food. This is a special occasion cake, not meant to be consumed in large quantities (but if you want to consume it in large quantities, I won’t judge). The thing I love about this cake is that it’s really easy to make. No fancy stand mixer, or any mixer for that matter, is required. Because it’s an oil based cake, it’s not as light and fluffy as some other vanilla cakes (like this one), but it is really moist and doesn’t dry out as quickly as some butter based cakes. In fact, it tasted just as good on day 3 as it did on day 1. It’s also not quite as sensitive to over baking as butter based vanilla cakes. Not that you should over bake it, but a minute too long in the oven won’t be the end of the world. A recipe that’s hard to mess up is always a good thing in my book!

P.S. I’ve become totally obsessed with sugar pearls lately. They’re like nonpareils on steroids. I love it.

Print Vegan Vanilla Birthday Cake

Yield: One 3 layer 6-inch cake


  • For the Cake:
  • 2 cups (240 ml) non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice)
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 2 cups (250 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • For the frosting:
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 170 grams) non-hydrognated margerine (I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) non-hydrogented shortening (I used Spectrum Organics)
  • 3 1/2 cups (440 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) non-dairy milk or creamer


  1. For the Cake:
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  3. Grease and line 3 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk and vinegar. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract, and whisk together until the mixture becomes frothy.
  6. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk together until the flour mixture disappears.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the 3 pans (I used a kitchen scale to do this) and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Cool the pans on wire racks for about 15 minutes. Then turn the cakes out of the pans onto the wire racks and cool completely before frosting. For the Frosting:
  10. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and shortening together on medium high speed (or medium if using a stand mixer) for about 2-3 minutes, until light and creamy.
  11. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine.
  12. Turn the mixer up to medium high and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
  13. Add the vanilla extract and salt and beat to combine.
  14. Add the non-dairy milk in one tablespoon at a time until the frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. To Assemble the Cake:
  15. Place one layer of the cake on a 6-inch cake board.
  16. Place about 1/2 cup of frosting on top, and use an offset spatula to spread evenly over the first layer.
  17. Place the second layer on top of the first and do the same with the frosting.
  18. Place the third layer on top, and put a large dollop of frosting on the top of the cake.
  19. Using an offset spatula, work your way around the sides until the entire cake is covered with a thin layer of frosting. I find that a turntable is helpful during this process. Let the crumb coat set in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  20. Once the crumb coat has set, spread a thicker layer of frosting on the top and sides of the crumb coat to create a smooth finish. Use the leftover frosting to pipe onto the cake and top with sprinkles.
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Cake recipe adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

-When looking for non-hydrogenated margarine, look for the stick rather than the kinds in the tub.
-The frosting calls for shortening, but it’s best to use the non-hydrogented kind, such as Earth Balance or Spectrum Organics. If you use the high-ratio stuff, your frosting will end up tasting like grease.
-Wholesome Sweeteners makes vegan certified sugar and powdered sugar.
-The frosting recipe makes enough to fill, crumb coat, and frost the cake with some leftover for piping. If you don’t plan to crumb coat or pipe the frosting, you can cut the frosting recipe in half.

Tools I used to make this cake:
6 x 2 Inch Round Cake Pans

Cake Strips

Cake Decorating Turntable

Large Offset Spatula

Small Offset Spatula

Bench Scraper

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