Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vegan Vanilla Cake

This post is about two vegan vanilla cake recipes and their comparison..

What is the role of egg in cakes????
Answer to this question is not one but a few.
Egg is a great binder. Ex: All cakes
Egg can act as a leaven er. Ex: Sponge cake and many others
Egg can give volume to the cake. Ex: Angel food cakes, Chiffon cakes
Egg gives richness to the cake which keeps it moist. Ex: Pound cake, fruit cake and many other cakes.
Perhaps the most difficult challenge for a person to convert a recipe to an eggless recipe or a vegan one is to figure out what exactly is egg's role in a particular recipe.

Other ingredients can be substituted very easily but not egg. If the recipe calls for one or two eggs it is not that hard. When you are talking about beating the egg whites to stiff peaks to create volume, I doubt that any substitute will work in its place. I am not an expert and everyone is entitled to different opinions based on their observations and experience. So, don't quote me on this.

When I posted the 'Almond Date Cake' recipe few days back which is an almost vegan cake except for the glaze, Priya who writes a vegan blog asked me if I had any recipe for a vegan vanilla cake which doesn't use vinegar and used oil instead of vegan butter. That prompted me to do this experiment and post the results.
Since I like decorating cakes, it is very important for me for the cake to not only taste good but have a very good crumb structure. It is very important for the cake to have a very good binding if you want to tart it or carve it. I have baked many cakes without eggs, but I have never baked a cake as an eggless one and decorated that except for once. I was so careful with it that I leveled it with icing rather than torting it. These eggless cakes crumble very easily and they dry out quickly too. They are great in a cupcake form though.

I baked two cakes. One with applesauce in it and the other with homemade egg substitute using corn starch. I chose a recipe which had only one egg for me to replace. And I did not use ener-G egg replacer since it is not available all over the world. If you live in a country where you cannot get applesauce, check out my post on how to make it here.

One year Back: Barley Dosa, Peanut butter cornmeal cookies, Spiced Peanuts
Cake with applesauce:
Makes 1 8" round cake not very high
All purpose flour - 11/3 cups
Sugar - 3/4 cup
applesauce - 1/2 cup measured in dry measuring cup
Baking Soda - 3/4 tsp
Baking powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 1/4 cup
Vanilla - 1 tsp
Hot water - 3/4 cup (You could use hot soy milk)

Grease and flour a 8" round pan. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together applesauce, hot water, oil and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients to dry and mix gently taking care not to over mix. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This tasted great and was very moist. But, because of the use of applesauce, it has a dense crumb texture which is alright if the main thing you are looking for is a piece of moist cake. But, if you want a spongy or airy cake, this is not for you. Also, it has a slight hint of applesauce taste in it. When I tweaked the recipe, I added 1/4 tsp of baking powder to compensate for the denseness the applesauce would bring. I should have increased the baking soda to 1 tsp instead. Because of this, the crust was a little chewy. All in all, a very good recipe since it doesn't call for any fancy ingredient that is available only in certain countries.

Cake with egg replacer:
Makes one 8" square cake
All purpose flour - 1 1/2 cups
Sugar - 1 cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp (See the Taste section)
Baking Soda - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Hot water - 1 cup (You could use hot soy milk)
Oil - 1/4 cup (See the Taste section)
Vanilla - 1 tsp
In place of egg - 2 TBSP of corn starch + 1 tsp of oil + 2 TBSP of warm water

Grease and flour a 8" square pan. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together hot water, oil and vanilla. Take the contents mentioned in 'In place of egg' (corn starch, oil and warm water) and whisk them together with a fork till well combined. Pour this to the bowl containing liquid ingredients. Whisk them together. Pour the entire liquid into the bowl containing dry ingredients and mix well but don't over mix. Pour it on to the prepared pan and bake for 30 - 35 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This tasted like a vanilla cake. But, line the cake pan with parchment paper. Cake stuck to the pan and I couldn't get it out in one piece. If you are looking for an airy, spongy vanilla cake which is vegan and uses oil and does not use vinegar, this is definitely for you. But my suggestion would be to omit baking powder and increase the baking soda to 1 1/2 tsp. Also, instead of 1/4 cup of oil, it would be better to use 1/3 cup. Apart from the disaster of cake sticking to the pan, this one would be a winner as a Vegan vanilla cake. But will I bake it to decorate? probably not since even when not so crumbly, this definitely couldn't hold to torting or carving.

Here is a picture of two cakes side by side to show the crumb. Left one is the one with applesauce and the right one is with corn starch as egg substitute. Applesauce definitely has made the cake come out darker but between the two, that was the sturdier cake.
Update: I had suggested to omit baking powder and increase baking soda to 1 1/2 tsp in the cake recipe which uses corn starch. Even when I had no problems with this cake, some people found it bitter in taste in some places. It could be due to old baking soda or under mixing. I would suggest to keep the recipe as is or reduce the baking powder to 1/2 tsp and keep the remaining as is.
Enjoy. Pin It


  1. nice cakes..i thought the texture of the cornstarch cake was better? don't u think so?

  2. wow, amazing Champa, made 2 cakes and then comparison, hats off to all the patience.

  3. Harini, Yes absolutely agree with you.
    Priya, If only I can find people to eat my bakes, I would bake every day couple of things at least.
    Thanks to all for leaving a comment.

  4. Champa, I too liked the corn starch one better.....I prefer to use applesauce for cupcakes but have never tried corn starch in cakes/ is quite interesting....

  5. Loved both the cake...good analysis which helps novice bakers like me.
    Can you post recipe for american carrot cake but with low calorie low fat cream cheese frosting? I know i am asking too much but for an expert like you may be you can help me.

  6. Thanks a lot Champa..Its no suprise that this post came so fast from someone so enthusiastic about baking like you..I too liked the corn starch version, but I would like to decorate the cake atleast cover with frosting. So I will try the applesauce one first in weekend and give you the feedback..Thanks again for the recipes...

  7. Spice,
    Me too.
    My problem is not the baking but for finding people to eat it. I will definitely post the carrot cake recipe when I get an opportunity to feed someone soon.

    You are welcome. First of all baking is hard in India due to lack of availability of different ingredients. Vegan baking is harder I believe. Good luck and do let us know how it turned out.

  8. Both cakes are so nice. Thanks for the recipes. I like to prepare all my cakes egg less. So I have got nice tips from you.

  9. Love both cakes, u have loads of patience ready to eat watever u make, but unfortunately i think a ocean separates us, else i dont bother to drive many kms to meet u, u know:)..

  10. I am going to try these for sure! Thanks for the recipe and the comparision!

  11. Love both the versions. Increasing the baking soda in the 2nd one, will it hamper the taste?

  12. looks amazing..will def be a must try for me..
    Tasty appetite

  13. Sanjeeta, The increase is after removing the baking powder all together in the recipe. So, it should come out better. I felt the change was necessary to avoid the chewy edges. If you do try this, please give me feedback so that I can post what happens with the alterations. I cannot possibly bake the same cake until the cake is gone from my kitchen that I baked yesterday.

  14. both the version looks yum and i loved the comparison !

  15. Have bookmarked these recipes, Champa. Will give them a try soon.
    Wishing you and your family merry christmas and Happy New year.

  16. Hi Champa, Finally got to make this cake..I made the corn starch version with your original recipe. ie: did not remove baking powder altogether.Also, instead of just water, I added 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup soymilk. And I made them as cup cakes..And I finally I frosted with chocolate ganache. It was moist and tasted very good..It refrigerates well too..Thanks a lot for the recipe..

  17. Priya,
    Thanks for the feedback. I really like that about you.

  18. the recipe calls for water which it says can be interchanged for milk,does the milk makes the texture softer.
    milk or water better alternative?

  19. Milk doesn't necessarily make the texture softer. It does give a better color to the end product.
    May be you should mention your name. It feels weird addressing an anonymous.

  20. I am sorry I did not mention my name in previous posts but let me compliment you on your work.I feel this is the best blog I have come acros especially for those who are passionate about baking.Good work. Keep it up!

  21. I tried the cake recipe with egg replacer (the original one without the alterations of baking soda and baking powder.It came out nice,but only I felt little bitter.I want to make it again and this time double the quantity,can I reduce the baking powder to half as you mentioned in your update?or it would compromise on the crumb texture and increase the density?the cake I baked with the original recipe had a nice spongy texture.
    please guide.

  22. Tara,
    Thanks for the feedback. Try using 1 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp baking powder instead. Read the update in the post. You should be fine with respect to crumb texture. Make sure you mix the egg replacer (corn starch+oil+water) very well before mixing it with the batter.

  23. Hi,

    Its hard to read your page due to the background picture. Just thought of letting you know.



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