What makes a cake vegan?

Vegan baking and cakes are free from any animal products. For cakes, this normally means there are no eggs and no butter in the recipe, but all animal products have to be excluded for it to be vegan.

How do I make vegan cakes?

Many people think making cakes vegan is difficult, but in many cases, it’s actually super easy and ends up with a delicious cake just the same. In fact, one of my favourite recipes (avocado brownies) is vegan and makes the smoothest brownies I’ve ever found! In most cases, you can use your favourite recipes and just swap in vegan alternatives for the relevant ingredients.

Replacing dairy for vegan baking

This is incredibly easy, as there are so many amazing products available as dairy alternatives. These are great for vegans, but also for people like my mum, who have a dairy allergy.

My favourite milk alternatives:

Almond milk
With a mildly nutty flavour, I find this the best as it doesn’t have armstrong taste that alters any of your bakes. It’s creamy enough that it works as well as cow’s milk too

Oat milk
Similar to almond, with a slightly creamier taste. Again, has a fairly mild flavour, so doesn’t interfere with bakes

Soya milk
This is my least favourite of all the milk alternatives, as it’s got a rather strong and unique flavour! Some like it, but I’d rather not risk it interfering with my cake flavour. I also avoid this as anything soy-based contains phytoestrogens (plants’ versions of the female hormone) and I’d rather my cakes didn’t have these in!

My favourite butter alternatives:

Stork baking block
If you want to use something you’re already familiar with in the baking aisle, then this is actually vegan! It’s great for baking, but I particularly love it for making vegan buttercream, as it’s got a firmer texture. Note: some might not like that it contains a lot of palm oil, but stork are now “committed to sustainable palm oil”, so this may allay some of those fears

Dairy free/sunflower spreads
I’ve often used the Pure brand, as it’s my mum’s favourite (she’s allergic to dairy) and I find that the sunflower spread in particular gives a nice rich flavour to bakes. I use this in bakes, rather than buttercream as it’s a little too loose to give the right buttercream texture

Other notable vegan options:

Coconut oil
When making my vegan millionaire’s shortbread I use a combination of baking block and coconut oil when making the caramel, as I found that baking block alone didn’t have a high enough fat content to make good caramel

Coconut milk
Great as an alternative to whipped cream. I use it for topping vegan bakes which would usually be adorned with fresh cream, or on top of dairy-free meringue nests for my mum

Replacing eggs in bakes

This is where vegan bakes can be a little more tricky, as it depends on why the eggs are included in the bake. If it’s for moisture, then adding more of any of the dairy alternatives will give you great results. However, if the eggs are being used as a raising agent then the fun begins.

My favourite egg alternatives:

Dairy-free milk and cider vinegar
I’ve experimented A LOT with egg alternatives and this is the best one I’ve found for getting a good rise in vegan cakes

Aquafaba (whipped chickpea water)
I had such high hopes for this, but found it made one of the worst cakes I’ve ever baked! It’s fab for batter or replacing whipped egg-whites, but sadly it’s just not right for cakes and bakes

Extra baking powder
In many cases, just an extra teaspoon of baking powder will give you the rise you’re looking for. Just don’t forget to add a little more fat (dairy alternative) at the same time so you don’t sacrifice moisture

Check out my selection of vegan cakes and bakes or have something made bespoke to you.

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