This small batch vegan birthday cake is super easy to make and incredibly delicious. With soft and fluffy vegan vanilla sponges and a luxurious whipped chocolate ganache frosting, you couldn’t possibly guess that this gorgeous cake is vegan. The recipe also doesn’t use any egg replacements – no chia or flax eggs needed!
80g(⅓ cup + ½ tbsp) sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing the tins(or other neutral-tasting oil of choice)
120g(½ cup) dairy-free milk, room temperature(I used almond milk, but rice, soy or oat milk will also work well.)
90g(⅓ cup + 1 tbsp) unsweetened dairy-free yoghurt, room temperature(I tested the recipe with Tesco's own brand and Alpro plain yoghurt, but other good quality dairy-free yoghurt alternatives will also work well.)
1tspapple cider vinegar
½tspvanilla bean paste(or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
¼-½tspalmond extract(optional, the amount depends on how intense you want the almond flavour to be)
For vegan whipped ganache frosting:
250g(8.8 oz) chopped dark chocolate chocolate, 60-70% cocoa solids(Make sure to use a vegan chocolate.)
250g(1 ¼ cups) dairy-free double/heavy cream alternative(I used the Elmlea brand, but most good quality dairy-free double/heavy cream alternatives should work well.)
150g(1 ¼ cups) icing/powdered sugar(Make sure to use vegan icing/powdered sugar.)
For vegan vanilla sponges:
Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Lightly grease two 6 inch (15cm) round cake tins with oil and line their bottoms with rounds of baking/greaseproof paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the plain all-purpose flour, caster/superfine sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
Add the oil. Mix together the dairy-free milk, dairy-free yoghurt, apple cider vinegar, vanilla and almond extract, and add them to the dry ingredients.Tip: The apple cider vinegar helps to make the sponges fluffier and softer. As vinegar is acidic, it reacts with the baking soda and the basic component of baking powder, giving the raising agents an extra boost. Don’t worry, you won’t be able to taste it in the final cake.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the ingredients together until only just combined and you get a smooth cake batter with no flour clumps.Tip: The crucial thing to keep in mind when making these vegan sponges is that you mustn’t over-mix the batter. Over-mixing will cause gluten development and can result in a gummy sponge filled with large, irregular holes. That's why I don't recommend whisking the batter, but rather folding the ingredients together. Stop mixing the moment the ingredients are only just combined.
Evenly divide the cake batter between the two lined cake tins and tap them a few times on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles trapped in the batter.
Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, cover the sponges with a sheet of aluminium foil (shiny side up) and continue baking until done. The final sponges will be well risen, golden brown on top and an inserted toothpick should come out clean.Tip: Covering the sponges with aluminium foil prevents them from forming a somewhat hard top crust that makes it difficult to trim them.
Allow to cool in the cake tins for about 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
For vegan whipped ganache frosting:
Place the chopped dark chocolate into a heat-proof bowl.
Heat the vegan double/heavy cream alternative until it only just comes to a boil.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 3-4 minutes, then stir together until smooth and glossy.
Chill in the fridge for 15-30 minutes with frequent stirring until thickened and firmed up slightly. It should be of a spreadable consistency – not runny but also not so firm that you can’t easily whisk it.
Add the icing/powdered sugar to the chilled ganache and whisk until it lightens in colour and becomes slightly fluffier. You can do this by hand using a balloon whisk – it should take about 8-10 minutes. You can also use a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters – it should take about 4-5 minutes on the medium speed setting.Tip: I actually recommend whisking the ganache by hand, as it allows you more control over the consistency and makes it pretty much impossible to over-whisk/over-whip the frosting. Using a stand/hand mixer, you can over-whip the frosting (which causes it to split), so make sure to keep an eye on it and stop whisking when it looks fluffier and noticeably lighter in colour. If you do over-whip it, you can re-melt it, chill again and then whisk to the right consistency.
If the whipped ganache frosting feels slightly too soft to easily spread and pipe at this point (which can be the case if your kitchen is very warm), you can chill it in the fridge for a further 15-20 minutes. Stir it frequently and keep an eye on the consistency, as you don’t want it to firm up too much.
Assembling the cake:
If necessary, level off the sponges with a sharp serrated knife.
Place the bottom sponge on a cake stand or serving plate of choice.
Dollop some of the frosting on top and smooth it out into an even layer, using a small offset spatula.
Place the other sponge on top, with the bottom of the sponge facing upwards (this will give you a nice flat top).
Use most the remaining frosting to cover the outside of the cake, reserving some for piping decorations on top. You can smooth out the frosting completely, or create swirls and swoops of frosting with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
Transfer the remaining frosting into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle of choice. Pipe dollops of frosting on top of the cake.
Decorate with sprinkles before slicing and serving.Tip: For extra neat and clean slices, cut the cake with a warm/hot knife. Choose a sharp knife and dip it into very hot water. Wipe it dry, then slice the cake while the knife is still hot/warm. In between slices, dip the knife again in hot water, wipe it off and repeat.
The vegan birthday cake keeps well in a closed container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Recipe by The Loopy Whisk (www.theloopywhisk.com).