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  • Writer's pictureAli

Tried and True Vegan Birthday Cake: No Weird Ingredients!

We had a birthday this past weekend so I made a cake for my youngest dude. He just turned two. He is so big now. This is the cake recipe that I always use. I add variations here and there but I always use this basic recipe because it works and tastes good. It's been tested by vegans and non-vegans alike and is always well received.

I will separate the cake and the icing recipes (of course) but I do like to leave the shortening on the counter to warm up to room temperature while I am baking the cakes. This recipe makes a smaller cake but it still takes us 3 days to get through it. If you are having lots of kids, you can easily double the recipe but the cake is a bit more dry if your layers are too thick.

For the Cake


1 cup soy milk

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar (look for a vegan brand if concerned about bone char)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup oil

1/4 cup water

1 tsp lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Mix the soy milk and vinegar in a small mixing bowl and set aside.

  3. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a medium sized mixing bowl and combine.

  4. Add the oil water and lemon juice to the soy milk mixture and stir.

  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix well and quickly until smoothly combined with no lumps.

  6. Pour batter into 2 greased cake pans. The layers will be thin but that is okay. Bake until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. This was 17 minutes in my oven. Let the cakes cool fully before icing them.

For the Icing


1/2 cup all vegetable shortening, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract (imitation is fine)

Optional: Wilton's Imitation Butter flavor** Nice but not necessary- see note

2 cups of icing sugar**

2 tbsp soy milk

food coloring drops- Clubhouse brand is suitable for vegans


  1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the shortening, vanilla extract and butter flavor (if using) together using an electric mixer.

  2. Add 1 cup of icing sugar and mix until well blended. Repeat with the second cup.

  3. Add 1 tbsp of soy milk and blend until smooth. If the icing is not smooth, add another tbsp of soy milk and blend. You can repeat until the icing is as smooth as you prefer. If it gets too runny, add a bit more icing sugar to fix the consistency.

  4. Add a few drops of food coloring.

  5. Ice your cake and enjoy.

** these ingredients contain no animal products but there is a risk of exposure to animal products at different points during production depending on the brand. I choose a brand of icing sugar that does not filter with bone char whenever obvious but I don't chase down the sugar source in packaged foods. You must decide where you draw your vegan line. Most sugar providers seem to be moving away from bone char filtration. Butter flavor contains no animal ingredients but the website cannot guarantee the raw ingredients don't contact bone char or other animal derived products. I figure few people can so I would consider both these products vegan enough.

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