A Vegan Beginning
April 01, 2016

A Vegan Beginning

It's time for an introduction.

It may surprise a few of you to learn that Team Sugarworks has in its ranks one strict vegan. (Dietarily strict, that is; in temperament I'm a pretty laid-back, feet-on-the-furniture sort of vegan.) It should not surprise you to learn that, like the rest of Sugarworks, I love cake.

"But surely," you must be thinking, "decent cake can't be vegan, right? And fondant definitely isn't vegan. It must be hard to spend all day looking at food you can't eat." In fact, I love looking at cakes! Because every time I see a really amazing, delicious-looking cake I'm thinking, I could veganize that.

So for my first blog post here, I'm going to give you guys the foundational elements to veganize your cake art- your basic vanilla cake, icing, and fondant.



Vegan Very Vanilla Cake


  • 1 cup vanilla soy milk (or other non-dairy milk if you're not a soy fan, but keep it vanilla flavored and sweetened)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (just trust me on this)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Oven: 375F   Time: 35-40min

1. Pour the soy milk into a measuring cup and add the vinegar. Mix it up and let it sit while you measure out some other ingredients. The vinegar is going to work some magic. (Ok, it's going to curdle the soy milk a little, but that's sounds kind of gross so we'll just say "magic.")

2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

3. Add the oil, water, and extracts into the soy milk mixture and whisk together. Pour this liquidy concoction onto the dry ingredients and mix with an electric mixer. Use a low speed until it's blended, then crank it up high until your batter is super smooth. Pour into an 8" greased and floured pan. (Tip: I use Earth Balance to grease my pans.)

This recipe makes one 8" cake. If you're stacking layers, multiply this recipe by however many layers you need.


Vegan Vanilla Icing

This is actually an icing recipe I got from my mum years ago and I just replaced the butter with "butter" and the milk with "milk." I've done my best to formalize amounts, but when I asked her for measurements her responses were, I kid you not, "a little bit," "a lot," and "until it looks right."


  • 4 tablespoons Earth Balance buttery spread (I hate to brand-drop too much, but I honestly haven't found another butter substitute that compares)
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons vanilla soy milk

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. If your icing seems too stiff, add a little more soymilk. If it's too thin, more sugar.


Vegan Marshmallow Fondant


  • One bag vegan marshmallows (I used Dandies)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

1. Melt the marshmallows along with the water. You can do this on the stovetop or in the microwave. 

2. Add the sugar. Mix with a spoon until it starts to come together into a blob, then knead it like dough. If it seems sticky, add more powdered sugar just a little bit at a time.


Some notes:

1. Vegan cake is denser than conventional cake. Your layers will be flatter. This means there's less to cut off when you're leveling it! This might also mean that your cake is a little shorter than usual. If you're concerned, plan for an extra layer.


2. Since the icing doesn't contain real butter, it won't firm up in the refrigerator as much as butter-based icings or frostings would. If you're going to cold carve your cake, refrigerate it after icing for a couple hours, but before you carve it, stick it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.


3. This vegan fondant is great for covering a cake, but not ideal for sculpting things like cake topper figures. It smoothes well over a cake, but doesn't hold sculpted shapes well.



So, there you have it. If you have a vegan cake-lover in your life (or if you are one), or if you just like to experiment, this is a really good base to start out with. If you want to get super fancy with your decorating, you might need to try veganizing modeling chocolate or gum paste, or experiment with an agar agar fondant recipe (and then tell me how it goes because I haven't tried it yet). 

Happy caking!