Having dietary restrictions doesn’t mean you have to sit out birthday celebrations with family and friends. This Vegan Birthday Cake is 100% delicious and suitable for everyone at the party–you don’t have to have dietary restrictions to enjoy a slice or two.
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Pastry chefs, bakers, and home cooks know that cake, in particular birthday cake, provides way more than a (hopefully) yummy treat. Birthday cakes are all about celebrations and making people happy. I am not alone in finding this part of making desserts super rewarding and fun. Well-made vegan cakes are suitable for everyone, and that means we can all celebrate together–whether or not dietary restrictions are an issue. You can enjoy the same celebration cake at the party with the ethical vegan, egg-allergic, lactose-intolerant, cholesterol avoiding, and pareve friends and families. One Cake For All!! Julia Child famously said, “A party without cake is just a meeting.” I agree. Do you?
I’m writing this post from Bucks County, where I came to spend time with my daughter and her family, and in particular, to celebrate my grandson Seth’s 11th birthday. We planned a Zoom birthday party first to celebrate Seth and his cousin, my granddaughter Georgia’s birthdays. Their birthdays are just one day apart.
Seth wanted a vanilla cake with cream and lots of sprinkles. I’d brought with me two jars, for a total of about 2/3 a full recipe of my Vanilla Pastry Cream. He tasted it and loved it. The night before, Seth had added some lime juice to around 1/3 cup of this dessert cream and pronounced it the best crema for black beans he’d ever had. Well, that opinion I leave for Seth. I had 1 2/3 cup left to use for the cake, more or less.
I baked one recipe of the Vanilla Cupcakes from my Essential Vegan Desserts Course at Rouxbe, understanding that the batter would be sufficient to make two 8-inch layers. I adjusted the recipe from cupcakes to baking on the center rack and judged the time to be 25 to 30 minutes. I got two beautiful layers. I did line the bottoms of the oiled pans with parchment circles. My daughter has a well-stocked baking pantry!
When the cake layers were finished cooling on the cooling racks, I refrigerated them, because I find finishing cold cakes to be easier. Since the cream would be applied in the morning but the cake wouldn’t be served until much hours later in the evening, I decided to very thinly coat (waterproof) the top of each layer with Chocolate Ganache Glaze. This coating of chocolate adds some flavor but the cake is still vanilla forward. I’d brought a container of frozen Chocolate Ganache with me too, so I warmed it back to liquid, over a water bath before using it.
About half the Vanilla Pastry Cream (aka Custard Cream) was applied to the top of the bottom layer. I placed the second layer that layer, pressed down lightly, and spread the top of the layer with the remaining cream. Seth was promised the job of finishing the cake, and in his mind, that meant a lot of sprinkles. I’d forgotten to bring my fancier, natural, vegan sprinkles from Go Supernatural, so we went with what was on hand. The cake was refrigerated for hours and served with one big single candle. The LA family wanted some too–but Zoom.
Here’s the thing. This is not a 100% vegan household, although they lean in heavily. Every one of the three adults present, and that is not counting me, ate two slices and the kids were happy. Singing and kisses and birthday joy filled the house. There were 3 slices left and 2 days later, the cake was still good.
Today I am sharing the recipe for this vegan birthday cake as well as how to use the batter to make cupcakes. This is one of the reasons I’m so proud of the Essential Vegan Desserts Course at Rouxbe. Learning to make unapologetically luscious desserts that just happen to be vegan means offering celebratory joy to everyone! This particular recipe is not gluten-free, but we do have that option in the course. I used soymilk last night, but I usually use oat or almond. You need plant milk that is rich enough to clabber, which means making a vegan buttermilk substitution. Rice milk won’t do.
You can use all AP Flour and all cane sugar, instead of the AP – Whole Wheat Pastry flour mixture (whole wheat pastry flour is hard to find these days) and all cane sugar instead of the smaller amount of Coconut Sugar. I used what was in Tracy’s pantry now. Just make sure the total quantities are correct.
Make this cake. It doesn’t have to be anyone’s birthday. We all need some celebrations now more than ever.
Vegan Birthday Cake
- 11 ounces that is 1 cup plus 6 tbsp soy, oat, or almond milk
- 4 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar, remember this is not used all at once DIVIDED
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 2/3 cup vegan cane sugar, lightly ground lightly grind in a food processor, recommended
- 1/3 cup finely ground coconut sugar or use 1 cup cane sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 7 1/2 tbsp mild neutral-flavored vegetable oil such as sunflower or grapeseed
- 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350F. Oil 2 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment circles.
Pour the milk into a small bowl. Add 3 ½ tsp of the vinegar and set aside for 5 or 6 minutes to clabber while you mix the dry ingredients. You are clabbering the milk to make a buttermilk substitute.
- Whisk, measure and sift together the dry ingredients through a strainer into a medium bowl.
- Stir the oil, vanilla and remaining 1 tsp of vinegar into the clabbered milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is smooth. The batter should be pourable.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
Bake on the center racks 25 t0 30 minutes, or until the cakes are risen, lightly golden, the sides are pulling away from the pans and a toothpick inserted into the middle is clean or holds just a few moist but not wet crumbs.
- Cool on a wire rack for 5 or so minutes before turning the cakes out of the pan. Carefully remove the papers from the bottom and allow to cool fully.
When the layers are cool, spread each with a very thin coating of Ganache Glaze or go thick- this is up to you. If your layers have been refrigerated, the glaze will set immediately.
- When the ganache has set, spread about half the Vanilla Pastry Cream on the layer.
- Put the second layer, ganache side up on the cake. Press down lightly.
- Spread the rest of the cream over the top of the cake.
- Refrigerate before serving, with sprinkles or another garnish.