A fluffy vegan vanilla cake that is light and delicious, and easy to make using apple sauce instead of eggs and oil, and with a strong sweet vanilla flavor.
There are lots of vegan vanilla cake recipes out there, so why try mine? Because my cake is lighter than the traditional vegan cake which can be a bit heavy, and I try to make the steps simple and easy, and flexible, with substitutions too! It's delicious with my bright white frosting recipe, with a special trick to make it white, or even try it with my fudge frosting, which tastes like cocoa in a frosting.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Versatile. This fluffy vanilla cake recipe can be used for a layered cake, sheet cake, a bundt, and cupcakes. You can use all purpose flour, gluten-free flour, or even oat flour though that result will be heavier.
A Lighter Crumb. I call this cake fluffy because it is thanks to the simple technique of grinding the sugar first. I don't mean use powdered sugar, I mean grind your cane sugar in a blender or food processor before using in this recipe. The use of lemon juice in milk also creates an acidic environment best for a fluffy texture.
Oat flour or All Purpose flour - both work well but have different measurements. (Oat flour needs 3 cups, while AP flour needs 2 ½ cups). Oat flour is naturally gluten-free; but if your cake needs to be gluten-free be careful to choose a brand that sports a certified GF seal which means they are careful to prevent factory cross-contamination.
Organic Cane Sugar - This recipe tastes sweet so you can consider reducing the sugar by ¼ cup if less sweet is more ideal for you. See steps for instructions about grinding it for a lighter cake texture.
Apple Sauce - I use unsweetened. This replaces eggs and oil.
Vanilla - I use a high quality version because the vanilla flavor is important in this vanilla cake.
Leaveners - baking soda, baking powder, and lemon-juice-activated milk.
Steps to Make
Step 1. Prep your pans. I used 2 (6-inch round pans here) but you can use 7-inch round cake pans, or a small bundt or square pan. Stir lemon juice into your milk at least 5 minutes before using it in the recipe.
Step 2. Grind your sugar. A key step in this recipe is to grind your cane sugar for a minute or so in a blender or food processor. This reduces the texture and allows the sugar the ability to melt faster, softening the cake texture. Do not use powdered sugar..
Step 3. Add sugar, the lemon and milk mixture, apple sauce and vanilla to a bowl and stir for at least one minute with a spoon. You want the sugar to feel dissolved, not grainy. Press your spoon on the edge of the bowl to gauge the crunch.
Step 4. Add dry ingredients and mix with a hand mixer. If you use all purpose flour, don't mix long or the batter will turn rubbery. This is not an issue if you use oat flour.
Step 5. Bake, cool, and frost!
1. Grind your cane sugar into a fine powder in your blender or food processor. If you choose to not grind your sugar first, then stir your wet ingredients longer to allow the sugar more time to dissolve. Do not use powdered sugar.
2. Test your baking powder and soda to be sure they are active,
3. Add lemon juice to milk to create an acidic environment that will lead to a fluffy cake texture. When baking soda encounters an acid it kicks off a chemical reaction that produces a carbon dioxide gas that causes food molecules to expand, creating a light and fluffy texture.
Test Baking Powder And Baking Soda
You should test them both periodically or buy new. It's a smart move because if either the soda or powder is inactive, your recipe will not rise.
To test baking powder, add ¼ teaspoon to a ¼ cup of boiling water and watch for a foamy, fizz reaction. If you get no reaction, your baking powder needs to be replaced.
To test baking soda, add ¼ teaspoon to a ¼ cup of room temperature white vinegar and watch for a foamy, fizz reaction. If you get no reaction, your baking soda needs to be replaced.
What Makes Vegan Cakes Fluffy?
To make your vegan cake fluffy, be sure to mix the sugar and wet ingredients thoroughly first to be sure the sugar dissolves. That is one key step to a fluffy vegan cake.
How is Vegan Cake Different from Regular Cake?
A cake is vegan because the ingredients are not from an animal. That means no eggs. I also make my cakes without oil, using apple sauce or vegetable purees like pumpkin or sweet potato or beets instead. Check out my chocolate fudge cake here for an example of a chocolate vegan cake.
Is There a Vegan Cake Mix?
I think there are a few specialty boxed vegan cake mixes now. Some commercial cake mixes can be made vegan if you don't use eggs as they instruct, and instead use egg substitutes such as apple sauce, flax eggs or aquafaba. You'd have to check the box ingredients however to be sure there are none that are milk-based.
Why are Vegan Cakes so Dense?
Often vegan cakes end up dense because of the lack of eggs. I replace the eggs with milk curdled with lemon juice and with applesauce. Both react with baking soda to provide lift.
Why Does My Vegan Cake Fall Apart?
A vegan cake can fall apart if the moisture balance is off, and that can come from mis-measured flour. You can measure flour accurately with a scale, or by the spoon method. Loosen the flour in the bag with a fork. Then spoon it carefully into a measuring cups, and tap to level.
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Fluffy Vanilla Vegan Cake
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour* or 3 cups of oat flour
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoon unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 cup dairy free milk**
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract***
- 2 cups white frosting (I used my healthier fluffy vanilla frosting recipe found here.)
- All ingredients need to be a room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Add the lemon juice to the milk at least 5 minutes before baking.1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 cup dairy free milk**
- Grind your cane sugar in a blender or food processor. Do NOT substitute with commercial powdered sugar as the sugar is too fine and often has additives such as cornstarch.1 cup organic cane sugar
- If you haven't tested your baking soda and baking powder in a while, do that now. See how in notes.1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Line baking containers with parchment and/or grease and flour. I used 2 (6-inch round pans) but you can use 7-inch round cake pans or 1 (8-inch) square pan or a small bundt. Or add to 12 -18 cupcake liners.
Mix Wet Ingredients + Sugar
- Add apple sauce, milk, vanilla and sugar to a large mixing bowl and stir with a spoon or mixer for several minutes. This step is key to dissolving the sugar.6 tablespoon unsweetened apple sauce, 1 cup dairy free milk**, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract***, 1 cup organic cane sugar
Add in Dry Ingredients
- Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and use a hand mixer to just combine batter.2 ½ cups all purpose flour*, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt
- Pour the batter into your pans of choice.
- I bake 6-inch or 7-inch layers cakes at 25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
- I baked a mini bundt cake at 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
- I baked cupcakes at 14 minutes each. This recipe makes 12-18, with 18 if you fill each up only 2 tablespoon full for a flat top.
Cooling & Storage
- Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool on a rack. Then frost.2 cups white frosting
- Cake can be refrigerated for 48 hours but then freeze after that or else texture will become crumbly.
How many cupcakes does this recipe make?
This recipe makes 12-18, with 12 if you fill each up only 2 tbsp full.
Can I use cake flour for this recipe?
Sure, to substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour use 1/4 cup more. Hope that helps!
Wouldn't it be easier to just use powdered sugar instead of grinding the sugar into powder yourself?
If so, how many cups or grams of powdered sugar would you need to substitute the cane sugar?
Either way the texture is similar, however if you do run your sugar through a blender, the cake tends to be slightly lighter. I do not advise substituting with commercial powdered sugar as the sugar is too fine and often has additives such as cornstarch.
Hello! Thanks for sharing this recipe. Can you also freeze the cake layers to decorate at a later time?
Yes, in airtight containers, the unfrosted cake layers can remain frozen for three months at least.
there's nothing in this recipe or post for the frosting. If I'm going to make the cake, I would like frosting as well.
The white frosting is linked in the beginning of the post!