Friday, December 18, 2009

Classic Yellow Cake

Can I get a little fluff please?

The vegan cooking world is full of forums, discussions and variations on the classic birthday cake recipe - white or yellow cake. The consensus seems to be that most vegan cakes are commonly more dense than their non-vegan counterparts. This is because many white or yellow cake recipes call for an absurd number of egg yolks. Despite my aversion to the cholesterol-laden goo of another species , I have to give credit to the fatty yolks for giving yellow cake a moist, rich, fluffiness that is difficult to replicate without them. I have made the Vegan Chef's Vanilla White Cake several times with success and rave reviews, but I must admit it lacks the fluff.

So as a dear omnivorous friend's birthday rolled around last week, I went searching for a recipe that would more closely match her favorite birthday cake - yellow cake with chocolate frosting - in hopes of instilling that nostalgic birthday glow one emits when they eat their favorite cake that Mom made for them each year after birth until either geography or age appropriateness forbade the tradition to continue. I wanted the yellow and the fluff, but I didn't want to use food coloring of course. So I decided I would trade in the yellow if I could just get some fluff.

Reading through several traditional recipes and nearly every vegan version I could find, most promised a light, moist cake. Others guaranteed a richness that could fool any non-veg. But alas, too many reviews conveyed extreme disappointment: this one is too dense, this one is too sweet, this one tasted like bread at 2nd grade communion (ok I made that one up)... So I decided to venture off on my own and combine several techniques of various vegan cake recipes and apply them to a simple traditional recipe. I found a recipe that called for only 2 eggs, versus the usual 4-6, and figured I could easily adjust.

When it comes to replacing eggs for baking purposes, my default is applesauce. It has a relatively mild flavor that doesn't seem to affect the overall taste of cookies, muffins or cakes. It is lower in calories and lighter in texture. However, I took viewed the calling of 2 eggs as an opportunity to share the glory of egg replacing between 2 different substitutions. I'm not big on powdered egg replacer, although it has its place in certain bread or crust doughs and goes well in pancakes. Flax is a bit too sticky and threatened to interfere with my fluff. At this point I would have done anything to salvage any degree of fluff in my cake. I really like the look and alleged moisture factor of yogurt cakes, like the recipe found in Veganomicon, though I have not made a yogurt cake yet. So I decided to test the waters with yogurt in cakes and go with that as my second egg substitute.

To be quite honest, I don't even know how this turned out yellow. I don't really need to know as I am highly content with the results. It had the desired fluff I was looking for and a decent amount of moisture. I say decent because I think it could use more, but the chocolate buttercream frosting did well to compensate for this. The recipe said to make this in 9" round pans, but as I am inadequately equipped when it comes to bakware, I made this in a 9"x"13 roasting pan and split it in half. The cake rose very evenly (as opposed to other cakes that rise more at the center than on the edges) which worked perfectly for a layer cake.

I have not included the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recipe here, because I did not use a recipe. If I had to loosely guess, I used not quite a 1/2 cup of Earth Balance, 2-3 c cups powdered sugar and scant 1/4 cup soy milk. For the chocolate, I started using cocoa powder, but after a couple of tablespoons it tasted too weak for me. So I switched to Trader Joe's European Sipping Chocolate which is richer and has much more depth than the icky Kroger's brand I've been trying to get rid of (I have now decided to throw it away).

Classic Yellow(ish) Cake


  • 1/2 c. Earth Balance
  • 1-1/4 c. Sugar
  • 1/4 c. Applesauce
  • 1/4 c. Vanilla Soy Yogurt
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp Almond extract
  • 1 c. Soy Milk, plain or vanilla
  • 1 tsp Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 3/4 c. All purpose flour
  • 1/2 T Baking powder
  • 1/2 T Baking soda


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . Grease and flour two 9″ round pans.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
Stir the vinegar into the soy milk. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together Earth Balance and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the applesauce and soy yogurt, then stir in the vanilla.
Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the soy milk, mixing until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pans. Add additional soy milk if batter looks too thick.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely. Frost as desired.


  1. Yum! I can't wait to try it...and my birthday is coming up in one month. It has been added to the wish list...

  2. I never noticed this until almost 2 years later but I have to say it was delicious! It was just the same (taste wise) as the previous 30 cakes out of the box but more moist and better for me. Not to mention the frosting was to die for! Thanks 1 1/2 years!