The ultimate vegan vanilla cake that’s incredibly tender, moist, and decadently sweet- yet, you’d never know it’s vegan, dairy free, gluten free, and healthier! Just 9 ingredients for the perfect vegan cake for any birthday, graduation, wedding, or holiday!
If you’re looking for a healthy vegan cake, look no further (except, of course, if you’re a chocolate fan… then go see my ultra rich paleo vegan chocolate cake 😉 ). This vegan vanilla cake is the ultimate vanilla cake. Period. Full stop. You don’t need another recipe.
It’s so incredibly fluffy and moist, you’ll be hard-pressed to determine that this cake is indeed vegan (and gluten free!). Plus, this cake is incredibly soft and packed with vanilla flavor that leaves you with a far from boring healthier vegan dessert.
In fact, you’ll scoff at it walking down the aisles of the grocery store because in your back pocket, you have the best vanilla cake recipe in the world, and little do those cake box mixes know, you’re about to wow your friends and turn them all into believers in making only making a vanilla cake recipe from scratch!
Yes, I am that confident.
I’m sure you want to know the catch. And I’m happy to report there is no catch. In fact, this vanilla cake is so dang good, you wouldn’t even know that it’s completely dairy free, gluten free, and egg free.
The even better part is that this vegan cake is just as easy as making a cake mix from the box, but when you can have the best vanilla cake ever , why even buy the mix?!
Vegan vanilla cake ingredients
You’ll be shocked at how simple the ingredients to this vanilla cake are. And guess what? It’s just 9 ingredients!
For the cake:
- Organic Flour or gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour: either works here! For gluten-free flour, make sure that it is 1-to-1 and not all-purpose. I recommend Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur. Before adding the flour to the bowl, just make sure to sift it!
- Sugar: you can use coconut sugar or granulated sugar- just keep in mind that your cakes will be slightly tanner in color when using coconut sugar. Still just as delicious!
- Vegan Butter or Coconut Oil: you’ll be surprised that there actually isn’t a lot of oil/fat going into this cake! This cake is actually shockingly low in fat as far as cakes go.
- Unsweetened Applesauce: this basically acts as the “egg” that you’d typically find in other vanilla cakes. You can also swap in ground flax seed if desired.
- Vegan Buttermilk (made from scratch): just simply combine your favorite coconut or nut milk (or dairy free milk!) with a little apple cider vinegar.
- Vanilla Extract: you’re going to need a lot of vanilla in here, but trust me, it’ll be worth it. This is the best vanilla cake recipe from scratch because of the vanilla- literally makes it taste like you’re eating a Georgetown Cupcake vanilla cupcake! It’s insane!
- Leavening agents: this is just your average baking soda and baking powder! Please make sure that the baking powder hasn’t gone bad or was stored improperly- this is crucial for making sure our cakes rise properly. To make sure your baking powder is still good, check out how to test it!
For the vegan buttercream:
I go over how to make the ultimate vegan buttercream in the sections below. Trust me, I have people that have never tried dairy free frosting in their lives, and they’re saying it’s the best frosting they’ve ever eaten.
The trick to incredibly moist vegan cakes: vegan buttermilk
I feel like this is such an underrated trick, and I talk about it a bit in my Vegan Baking 101 guide.
If you’ve ever had a normal vanilla cake, then you’ll know that incredibly sweet yet ever so subtle tang that comes along with a fluffy and moist cake. That’s from the buttermilk. It also helps to give rise to the cake without drying it out.
So since buttermilk isn’t vegan, we’ll have to make our own- but don’t worry it’s so simple!
All you’ll need to do is combine your chosen dairy free milk with a little apple cider vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 5-7 minutes so that it can slightly curdle. Then use it in your recipe as you would regular buttermilk!
How to make a vegan vanilla cake
A part of what makes this vegan cake the best vanilla cake in the history of vanilla cakes is that it’s incredibly easy to make.
I’ve now tested this cake with two different methods so please read on, and for specifics, follow the recipe card below. This is a general overview of the directions.
The first method is without a stand mixer. For years I did all of my baking without a stand mixer. I even created, tested, and retested over 110 vegan dessert recipes for my cookbook without a stand mixer so please know that anything you can do with a stand mixer, you can do without! I’m proof!
The second method is with a stand mixer. My wonderful boyfriend and his family surprised me with a KitchenAid stand mixer for Christmas, and I literally broke out into tears. This was on my list to treat myself to for the longest time, so of course, I was a basket case. And I immediately got baking the day after christmas!
Either way, you’ll end up with a wonderful vanilla cake that will wow a crowd!
Making a cake by hand method:
Before we begin, make sure that you’ve prepared your vegan “buttermilk.” Simply whisk or mix together the nut milk and the apple cider vinegar and set aside.
Then preheat the oven to 350F and grease three cake pans (you can use either 6″ or 8″ cake pans) with olive or coconut oil, along with parchment paper.
- Next, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt together in a large bowl. Set this aside, and in a medium bowl, whisk together the applesauce, the homemade “buttermilk,” melted coconut oil, and vanilla.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together until it’s a nice and smooth vanilla cake batter.
- Pour the cake batter evenly into both cake pans and place in the oven on the middle shelf to bake.
- Once they’re done, remove them from the oven and let cool in the pans before removing and placing onto a cooling rack.
Making a cake with a stand mixer:
If you are making this vanilla cake with a stand mixer, you’ll actually start with the wet ingredients first!
- First, whisk together just the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
- Next, you’ll cream together the softened vegan butter and sugar until the sugar dissolves into the butter about 3 minutes. I used the flat beater paddle. Scrape down the sides as needed.
- Then add in the unsweetened applesauce and vanilla, and continue to beat again on medium-low speed, then increasing it to medium speed until combine, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Gradually add in half of the flour mixture, followed half of the vegan buttermilk, and continue beating until the entire flour mixture and the buttermilk are in the batter. Beat until the dry ingredients are just incorporated, being careful not to over mix. Scrape down the sides as needed.
- Then divide the batter into the cake pans and bake!
How to make a vegan vanilla buttercream frosting
Making a vegan buttercream frosting is actually quite easy and really quite literally is the icing on the cake that makes this the best vanilla cake in the world.
You’ll need only a few ingredients: vegan butter, vanilla, a nut or coconut milk, and organic powdered sugar.
Make sure that your vegan butter is softened, basically at room temperature like you would make a normal buttercream frosting.
- Add the butter to a large bowl and cream it using a hand mixer.
- Then add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and continue to beat until it becomes a thick buttercream.
- Add in the vanilla extract here, as well as any needed coconut or almond milk to make it to the desired thickness you’d like.
Then frost your beautiful healthy vegan cake!
You can leave the sides completely naked, fully frost them, or go for the slightly exposed look that I did, and you won’t even need a frosting knife! Just simply add a little bit of frosting to the knife and essentially, you’re gently “scraping” the frosting alongside the edges of your vegan vanilla cake.
How to decorate a cake:
This is my absolute favorite part.
I’ve been getting really into different pipings and designs on cakes lately, as well as learning to get that really smooth look to frosting using a cake turntable and bench scraper.
However, I also love the nice swoops that a spoon creates, along with my ever favorite decoration: flowers!
For cake decorating, I highly recommend purchasing a cake turntable for ease of frosting both in-between and on the outsides of the cake layers.
A bench scraper is also helpful as well for getting a really smooth exterior.
Any leftover frosting you can color or leave as is, and pipe onto the sides and top of your cake for fun decoration- sort of like how I did my homemade vegan wedding cake!
Vegan Cake Tips & Troubleshooting
I want to make sure that you’re getting the best vegan cake every single time, so let’s go over some common technical issues!
Why is my vegan cake dense?
This happens for a few reasons. Sometimes, if your ingredients aren’t room temperature (i.e. something is very cold and something is very hot), it will throw off the texture in the cake and cause it to be gummy rather than fluffy and moist.
The easiest fix is: patience! Make sure that you’re allowing all of your ingredients to come to room temperature.
Another reason this can happen is if you don’t sift your flour. Make sure that you do this! Otherwise, you’ll end up with a gummy mess!
Why did my cake collapse?
It’s natural for cakes to slightly sink after baking, but if it completely collapsed in the middle, this could be due to a few reasons. Sometimes, our ovens aren’t actually the temperature that they say they are, and that can yield an unevenly baked cake.
Another reason could be because the dry ingredients weren’t properly whisked together or that the batter was under-mixed in general.
Be sure to read through all of the directions before beginning!
How much frosting between the cake layers?
I recommend using about 3/4 cup to a cup if you’re doing a 6″ cake, like I did. If you’re making an 8″ vegan vanilla cake, use about 1 1/2 cups!
Can I make this vegan cake ahead of time?
Yes! I recommend making the vanilla cake part up to a day ahead and storing it wrapped in an airtight container or with plastic wrap at room temperature.
Then when you’re ready to make finish the cake, prepare the frosting and serve.
How do I store this cake?
Any leftovers you have can be sliced and then stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Additionally, you can freeze the cake, and let it thaw in the fridge for 4 hours when you’re ready to enjoy again!
You can also leave this cake at room temperature for up to a day if covered and stored in an airtight container.
I just know you’re going to love this homemade vanilla cake recipe as much as I do. I mean, it really is the best vanilla cake recipe in the world!
Say goodbye to cake mixes, because you’ll never go back to store-bought with a recipe this good and this easy 😉
I hope you absolutely love this vegan vanilla cake! It’s truly one of my family’s favorites and is always requested for a birthday or celebration (but you can just make a cake for the heck of it!).
Let me know how your cakes went over in the comments below, along with giving it a rating so that others may find it!
Happy Baking, my loves!
More healthy vegan cake recipes:
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The ultimate vegan vanilla cake that’s incredibly fluffy, moist, and decadently sweet- yet, you’d never know it’s vegan, dairy free, gluten free, and healthier! Just 9 ingredients for the perfect vegan cake for any birthday, graduation, wedding, or holiday!
Vegan Vanilla Cake:
- 1 1/4 cups (300 grams) unsweetened dairy free milk, room temperature
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar (to be mixed with coconut/almond milk)
- 3 2/3 cups (460 grams) organic flour or gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour, sifted (do NOT skip- add in 1 tsp arrowroot powder if using gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour, see Note)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/4 cup (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (170 grams) salted Flora Plant Butter (vegan butter), room temperature
- 3/4 cup (190 grams) unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract (yes, 2 full tablespoons!)
- 2 cups vegan butter, softened
- 4 cups organic powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2–4 tbsp unsweetened dairy free milk
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease three 8″ cake pans with cooking oil, and line them with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Prepare the vegan buttermilk. Combine the dairy free milk with the apple cider vinegar, and set aside to sit for 5-6 minutes. You can weigh and measure the remaining ingredients during this time.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
- Make the batter: In a stand mixer with paddle attachment or a large bowl with hand mixer, cream together the vegan butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed. Then add in the applesauce and vanilla extract. Mix again on medium speed until combined, scraping down the sides and at the bottom of the bowl as needed. Add in about half of the dry mixture, along with half of the vegan buttermilk, and mix on medium speed until just combined. Add in the remaining dry mixture and vegan buttermilk, and mix on medium speed until there are just no more dry streaks. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl as well as the sides.
- Divide the batter between the cake pans evenly, and bake for 27-30 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cooled completely (there is absolutely no warmth to the touch!), then you can prepare your buttercream.
- When ready to frost the cakes, add vegan butter to a large bowl or stand mixer and cream for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, continuing the beat the mixture until it’s a thick buttercream.
- Add in vanilla and 2-4 tablespoons of coconut/almond milk and continue to beat until desired texture.
- Frost cake and enjoy!
Make sure that you add in a tsp of arrowroot powder or cornstarch if using gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour. This will give the flour more like a cake flour texture when baked- very tender and moist!
If you use coconut sugar, your cake will be slightly tanner in color- but still delicious!!
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