A Very Vegan Birthday!

Back in business BABY! I got myself a new mouse. Computer mouse, of course.

Vegan Birthday Cake | TheGreenForks.com

And there are a couple of things I’ve missed sharing with you since I’ve been MIA for most of this week. I’ll blow through them quick so we can catch up.

Without my computer to tool around on, I’ve been spending every evening binge eating on sugary goodies and popcorn in front of the TV. Then the whole night I feel sick and the next morning my undereyes are dark and puffy and I always seem to have broken out. Gross.

Vegan Birthday Cake | TheGreenForks.com

So! Because of my habitual eating when I’m bored, I told Dave that THREE things are going to happen. And now I am telling you. I need a large audience to increase my chances of accountability. It’s just necessary.

  1. No more ‘snacking‘ (binging) after dinner!!!
  2. No more highly refined, sugary treats (thank you birthday cake).
  3. A 3-day smoothie cleanse is to take place immediately after I get back from England.

Oh yeah, and next Wednesday I go to England for a week. An entire week that is sure to be filled with lots of sugar, butter, eggs, and cheese. I fully expect to feel disgusting, tired, sick, and have broken out terribly by the time I return. Maybe I will take photos of my face before and after to share with you. NO make-up. Full disclosure kind of stuff, haha. That way you can see how your body really feels about that kind of eating.

Vegan Birthday Cake | TheGreenForks.com

And last but not least and MOST importantly of all- Scarlett turned 3. Her first vegan Birthday! Very exciting.

As you can see, I made her a nice little cake. My very first vanilla vegan cake. I’ve made chocolate before, actually for her first Birthday before she was introduced to eggs. And I’ve got to say, if I had to pick between the two, I’d go with the chocolate second time around. You don’t miss out on the butter flavor as much with chocolate cake as you do with vanilla.

Vegan Birthday Cake | TheGreenForks.com

BUT! Good news is that you can still obtain a nice fluffy, moist texture in a cake without the eggs or butter. Granted, it’s not as good… but it is definitely not bad! Delicious in its own right. And this is a great vanilla vegan cake recipe to have in your arsenal for occasions such as this.

To top the cake I made a cooked frosting using millet flour, coconut oil, and soy milk. It was a recipe I got from Dreena Burton’s “Let Them Eat Vegan“. I was pleasantly surprised by the frosting and how well it piped. The taste still had a slight starchy flavor, but not enough where I would ever complain.

The ingredients in the cake itself aren’t especially healthy. Regular, white all-purpose flour and granulated sugar? Not exactly grade A, health food… I suggested a couple of things below to help ‘healthify’ the cake.

Vegan Birthday Cake | TheGreenForks.com3

Smart Substitutions:

  • Make this cake gluten free by using a gluten free flour mix.
  • Always use organic ingredients whenever possible (flour, sugar, and oil in this case)
  • Use 1 1/2 tablespoons raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice.
  • Lower the sugar content by using some stevia or xylitol. Cake’s texture may change though.
  • Use coconut oil instead of canola oil- just use water warm enough so that the coconut oil doesn’t re-solidify.
  • Try replacing some of the oil with applesauce.


By the way… this recipe also makes INCREDIBLE cupcakes!!! Made some for my daughter’s 4th Birthday this year. Incredible. Like I said.

4.8 from 20 reviews
Vegan Vanilla Birthday Cake!
Serves: 12
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups cold water (use room temperature water if substituting coconut oil)
  • ¾ cup non-GMO canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8" or 9" round cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, sift flour, sugar, baking soda and salt; whisk to evenly distribute.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together water, oil, vanilla, and lemon juice.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and combine with whisk. Do NOT overmix!
  5. Quickly pour into prepared pans and place into the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
For Cupcakes: Fill about 20 cupcake liners with batter about ⅔ the way full. Bake about 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
FOR VEGAN BUTTERCREAM: Beat together ½ cup non-hydrogenated shortening and ½ cup vegan butter (Earth Balance). Add 2½ to 3 cups confectioners' sugar and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Start beating on low speed until first combined, then continue to beat an additional 2 minutes or so until light and fluffy. If it is too firm add a tablespoon of non-dairy milk at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Originally seen HERE


93 Responses to “A Very Vegan Birthday!”

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  • Lisa October 8, 2013, 3:16 am

    Have you considered a butter flavor extract? I’ve used it in my “buttercream” recipe for years & it does impart that buttery richness that is missing with only vanilla. Just a thought. (My “buttercream” is a solid shortening based recipe so many individuals would not want it because of that but wanted to suggest the extract based on the flavor it imparts.) Hope you had an AMAZING adventure in England!

  • lmachell October 8, 2013, 1:32 pm

    Thanks so much Lisa!

  • Roula-Maria March 24, 2014, 2:46 pm

    Laura, I must say that you have a fantastic blog! Photos are amazing and look both enticing and healthy. Your passion for cooking, family, and well-being are very well expressed :) Actually, this recipe was an inspiration for me a few days ago, as I needed to make a vegan cake for a special occasion. I made a few changes, like adding in some orange zest and substituting sugar with date syrup…but all in all, your recipe was a great help! I’ve also only just opened my health food blog last month, and I mentioned the link to your recipe when I posted my own cake version. Thanks again!

  • lmachell March 30, 2014, 1:16 pm

    Thank you so much Roula-Marie! Glad you enjoyed this cake. Good luck with your blog and health food journey!

  • sonal May 26, 2014, 9:00 am

    Hi laura!! Im not vegan but I was looking for a recipe that did not have any yogurt or sweetened condensed milk because I’ve had bad experiences with them :p ! And also considering the fact that im Indian. .. we avoid eggs or any meat on a few days in a week . this recipe looks sooo good!! The ingredient that you used
    are the ones easily available
    here. I have one question though…. the sugar granules are quite big here… and caster sugar isn’t a really available … do you think giving a the sugar a small blitz in the blender shall do or is it okay to leave the sugar as is?

  • lmachell June 9, 2014, 12:33 pm

    I would try to break it up in the blender first. You never know!

  • Lucy June 13, 2014, 12:00 pm

    Excellent recipe! Thank you for sharing :) Do you know if I could substitute all of the oil for applesauce at all? or would it make the cake too heavy?

  • lmachell June 19, 2014, 8:11 pm

    I wouldn’t do all of it… maybe 1/3 cup applesauce with 3 tablespoons oil per 1/2 cup oil or something like that. Half and half, etc. Not all though…

  • Kira June 20, 2014, 6:42 am

    I would love to make this, but where can I find the frosting recipe?

  • MissObina August 15, 2014, 9:00 pm

    Hello Laura!

    Made this cake today for my best friend who is a vegan and she loved it!! I really liked it too, it’s pretty amazing how you can’t tell at all it has no eggs or dairy. The texture was really good for a vegan cake too, even better than some cakes with eggs/dairy I made in the past. This recipe is definitely a keeper, might even use it as my go to vanilla cake recipe as it was so easy to make!!

    PS. I also wanted to know where to find the frosting recipe??

  • lmachell August 17, 2014, 1:39 am

    That makes me SO happy that you enjoyed it! I don’t have the frosting recipe on my site to share- I got it out of one of my cookbooks. Here is the chocolate version though. Just omit the cocoa powder for the vanilla version. Good luck!

  • Anika August 23, 2014, 11:39 am

    Hi, i would like to ask if there is a need for canola oil and its properties for the recipe. is there any other type of oil i could use, or perhaps soya butter?

  • lmachell August 27, 2014, 10:53 pm

    You can use any other type of oil you would like. I suggest canola because it is very neutral in flavor. But another great choice would be sunflower oil. If you want to use butter, I can’t vouch for the results.

  • Becky September 11, 2014, 7:28 pm

    Mine turned out suuuuuuper flat. What did I do wrong?

  • lmachell September 12, 2014, 5:43 pm

    Oh no! Maybe your leavening agent is old??

  • lina September 21, 2014, 1:04 pm

    Great recipes! !!!!
    Thank you

  • Aparna September 22, 2014, 3:28 am

    Hi ,
    Lovely cake. I am a pure vegetarian and new to baking. Can you tell how much does one cup here refers to ? Or can you share pics of the measuring utils you use ? I know if I don’t follow the exact measurements then the cake will be a disaster

  • lmachell September 26, 2014, 1:16 am

    You can measure by weight if you’d like. Just do a google search for the equivalences. I hope you do make this though- it is AMAZING!

  • Vv October 4, 2014, 9:55 pm

    Such a simple recipe, I am so baking this one for my birthday next week. Thank you so much!

  • Joannah November 16, 2014, 2:07 pm

    I made this cake for our son’s first birthday. As he is allergic to both eggs and milk it what not only safe for him to eat, it was impressively delicious. Definitely making it again!

  • Lara November 21, 2014, 6:25 pm

    I am excited to try this recipe for a vegan friend’s birthday- quick question- would replacing the water with vanilla make the cake too dense? I don’t want to compromise the texture, but thought making that adjustment might enhance the flavor. I would love your advice before I embark on this baking adventure! Thanks!

  • Lara November 21, 2014, 6:27 pm

    Sorry if my above comment confused you! I meant to say, *vanilla almond milk* , not vanilla! :-)

  • lmachell November 24, 2014, 2:22 am

    I don’t think it will make it too dense. Should be fine.

  • simon December 17, 2014, 5:41 am

    Thank you so much for the recipe. I made cup cakes out of it, and since it’s cherry season where i live, i chopped up the cherries and put them in the mix. Tasted great, and so quick and easy to make.

  • sophia January 9, 2015, 6:38 pm

    How could I make this cake more lemony, would adding lemon juice mess with the consistency?

  • lmachell January 13, 2015, 6:22 pm

    You could add more lemon juice in place of some of the water? Or maybe some lemon zest or lemon extract if you are worried about changing the consistency.

  • vanessa January 20, 2015, 6:25 pm

    I tried this recipe today and it’s the best vegan cake I have tried so far!

  • lmachell January 21, 2015, 8:55 pm

    That is awesome to hear vanessa! I’m glad that you liked it :)

  • Johanna Nicol January 31, 2015, 1:46 am

    Did you bake the layers as I tired in a 9 or 8 inch pan? How tall were the sides? I baked mine already and it is nowhere near as tall. I just wanted to check before I frost this in case I should bake another one. The lemon smells wonderful and the color is great!

  • lmachell February 7, 2015, 8:43 pm

    I honestly can’t remember… but by the sounds of it, I might have used 8-inch layer cake pans.

  • Steve Lassoff February 3, 2015, 2:55 am

    Sounds and looks amazing! I am building a community of vegans and would love for you to hop over to http://www.wedigfood.com and leave a recipe

  • Mary Thomas February 4, 2015, 4:01 pm

    I am going to try to bake this for my newly vegan daughter’s b-day and because I am trying to give up refined sugar as well. try drinking warm water with a half of lemon squeezed first thing in the morning. This is supposed to help cleanse body. I started it a couple of weeks ago and I do feel better.

  • lmachell February 7, 2015, 8:39 pm

    I drink water with lemon everyday as soon as I wake up- I LOVE it!

  • Dee March 27, 2015, 5:45 pm

    My go-to vanilla cake recipe (my daughter has egg and milk allergies)…lovin’ it!! Thank you!

  • Rob April 5, 2015, 2:56 pm

    Hello, thanks for this amazing recipe. I made this for my wife’s birthday and it turned out delicious. I put a little cream soda in it to help keep it moist, which also adds to the vanilla flavor. She loves it and asks me to make it all the time. Thanks again.

  • lmachell April 9, 2015, 7:09 am

    I am glad that she enjoyed it so much!

  • Sue Starre April 8, 2015, 2:14 am

    I made this cake today for a friend and she is always thrilled when I try a new Vegan recipe for her. I used a chocolate frosting recipe. She loved it and so did everyone else, once I convinced them there was nothing in the recipe that was “funky”. People are funny! Thank you for sharing!

  • Sue April 15, 2015, 11:55 am

    I made this cake, for a friend who has many food allergies. Finally I have found a recipe that EVERYONE enjoyed! Usually I try something and as soon as I say it’s Vegan people turn their noses up. This looked pretty and rose nicely. I put a chocolate frosting on it…So delicious. Thank you, thank you, thank you and my friend thanks you. It was nice to see her enjoying a dessert with the rest of our ladies at church. :)

  • jordan April 17, 2015, 10:09 pm

    i am attempting to make this cake at the moment. its in the oven and it is not rising at all. followed everything. anyone else have this problem? or is it suppose to be a thin layer cake? thank you, jordan

  • lmachell April 19, 2015, 4:54 pm

    Maybe your baking soda is old?

  • lmachell April 19, 2015, 4:50 pm

    Awww, that is So great to hear! I am very happy that you had such luck with it. It’s a personal favorite for mine. I use it for all of our birthday cakes and everybody always marvels at how moist it is. Vegan baked goods have a bad reputation for being dry. This proves that wrong!

  • Cole April 24, 2015, 3:38 am

    Ooof. Might note above, with suggestion to use warmed coconut oil, NOT to use cold water, as noted in recipe. I have waxy solids that I’m now trying to conquer. Love this recipe, but ooof, the coconut oil sub is dangerous.

  • lmachell April 28, 2015, 6:59 am

    True. I will make note. Sorry about your dilemma.

  • Sarah May 9, 2015, 7:08 pm

    As others have had the same experience, just wanted to comment that i just baked this cake following recipe exactly and it barely rose at all. Rose maybe an inch in 8″ pans. Very thin & depressing birthday cake it’s going to be tomorrow :( and no my baking soda isn’t old…

  • Audrey May 11, 2015, 3:38 pm

    I doubled the recipe and got a perfect cake

  • Flory June 10, 2015, 2:57 am

    Used your “vegan birthday cake” as the base for vegan tiramisu and it was divine.

  • Molly September 29, 2016, 6:53 pm

    This sounds yummy! :)

  • Jamie July 1, 2015, 10:17 pm

    Great recipe! I did everything per the recipe *except* I subbed moscato wine for the water. I had been looking online for a vegan moscato cake recipe for my roommate with no luck, so I decided to try yours with that one alteration to see how it would turn out. It was amazing. The texture was perfect, and it tasted phenomenal. I know it would be just as good with the water! Thank you for posting this!

  • Jamie July 1, 2015, 10:25 pm

    Just to add in regards to the rising complaints – my cakes did rise in the oven, but not a whole lot. I will say my baking soda is on the older side though. Even so, I would still definitely use this recipe again. The cake was still fluffy and moist and not dense at all. Each of my cake layers probably came out to about an inch thick a piece.

  • Nery July 8, 2015, 11:33 pm

    Amazing, easy cake love it. Added some lemon zest and coconut flakes. My Family Loved it.

    Thank you

  • Ashwini July 23, 2015, 1:33 am

    I love the recipe! How do i make a chocolate variation of this? :)

  • Julie September 26, 2015, 9:41 pm

    It’s m’y best cake ever ! I really like this. It’s now the cake i do.

  • Trish September 27, 2015, 3:22 am

    I have just made this cake for my grand daughter and it was a real flop. Made exactly to the recipe and in the correct size cake tins but both cakes put together look about 1 inch high. Look like two pancakes. Really disappointed. I don’t see that 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda is ever going to be enough rising agent??

  • lmachell January 27, 2016, 9:00 pm

    I’m not sure what could have gone wrong. I would say just make sure your oven temp is right, your not forgetting the lemon juice, and that your leavening is fresh. As you can see from my pictures- it does rise.

  • Dariela October 8, 2015, 9:10 am

    I just made this cake for my daughter’s birthday. I substituted the lemon juice with apple cider vinegar and added 1/4tbsp x3 of baking soda. The batter smelled and tasted delicious! It did bake a little bit longer, but it looked amazing after it baked.I can’t wait to try it. Thank you for this recipe, I waited until the last minute to search for a easy vegan cake for my daughter who’s turning 5, so glad I found this recipe!!!

  • Bern January 2, 2016, 4:07 am

    I followed the recipe exactly but made cupcakes rather than a cake. The cook time was at least 40 minutes and the cakes weren’t evenly fully cooked. Any ideas why? I set the oven at 350, but could oven temp be the cause? I plan to check my oven to see if 350 realy is 350. I have to add, of the “parts” which were cooked, the taste was exceptional! I really want to get this recipe to work. Thanks for the recipe and your insight!

  • lmachell January 27, 2016, 8:43 pm

    Maybe add 2 to 4 tablespoons less liquid. I live in a high altitude area now and get an undercooked cake using this exact recipe now. I have to use less liquid (as well as decrease leavening for altitude reasons) and then everything is just fine :)

  • Kendra January 17, 2016, 11:19 pm

    Y no eggs?

  • AMLF February 2, 2016, 7:09 pm

    I used this great recipe just for fun and when I tasted it I was astounded at how much it tasted like a regular cake! I think this would be great for any vegan friends that you have or just for a weekend baking spree!

  • Devona February 11, 2016, 5:00 pm

    Hi I was going to sub the sugar with honey what other changes should I make, like decreasing the liquid or increasing the baking soda since honey is more acidic. And could I use baking powder instead.

  • Patty DeMartino March 12, 2016, 2:34 am

    I’d like to try this for my daughter’s birthday. Can I use grapeseed oil in place of the canola? It, too, is a neutral-tasting oil. What do you think? Thanks!

  • Brenda April 2, 2016, 12:27 pm

    Thank you for this recipe! I’ve been trying vegan white cake recipes about once a year for the past three years and they are bricks. This is the first that looks like cake, has the texture of cake and it takes good! It is going into my recipe book!

  • Denise Boomhour May 10, 2016, 8:17 pm

    Can double\triple this recipe, I need a vegan cake recipe for a birthday. My pan size is 11×7 rectangle.(about 10-11 cups) Could you give me some tips to do this please. I have never made a vegan cake before. thanks

  • ardenblend May 13, 2016, 11:59 pm

    Would you suggest any modifications for baking at high altitude?

  • Kathleen July 9, 2016, 8:45 am

    could i use oat or almond flour instead of all purpose flour???

  • Jen July 16, 2016, 3:35 am

    You just save my day :3 I was gonna make a vegan cake but I was out of soy/almond milk, and this recipe is perfect ;) Thanks!

  • mirlande silvain July 26, 2016, 6:03 pm

    tell me two defference about vegan and vegeterian dish, is eggs are vegan or vegeterian give me the different with them.

  • carla August 24, 2016, 1:01 pm

    I made this cake to decorate with fondant for a birthday. I tweaked it a little by adding flax meal eggs (two per recipe), lemon zest, and butter flavoring. I also substituted half the coconut oil with applesauce. It was AMAZING! It was easy to work with a far as cutting out into shapes, it was moist and firm at the same time and the taste with so delicious. Thanks so much! (Because I used golden flax meal the cake batter came out yellow)

  • Symone August 25, 2016, 10:07 am

    My son has milk protein allergy so I searched all over for a recipe with good ingredients and no dairy . I found this and was very impressed. I used cold pressed coconut oil in place of canola oil and just love the taste. I actually prefer this to the traditional cake recipes. Thank you!

  • Maude Muto September 2, 2016, 12:37 am

    Has anyone tried doubling or tripling the recipe for a larger cake?

  • jenna September 11, 2016, 3:22 pm

    i have but i over flowed and i had a big mess so i do not say that u sould do more than 3

  • jenna September 11, 2016, 2:57 pm

    can i substitute all purpose flour with rye flower or millet flower

  • Sabrina September 24, 2016, 8:05 am

    THANK YOU for this recipe. I have spent days trying to find something that would work and didn’t turn out flat as a pancake. This was lovely and fluffy and delicious. I am so so so pleased. It is a good thing that I am working on this a month before my second daughter’s first birthday otherwise I would have been FREAKING OUT! But now I feel confident that what I will be serving my guests won’t be gross.

  • Molly September 29, 2016, 6:59 pm

    I tried this recipie and a couple other Vegan recipes I found online. Until this one I just beleaved that vegan had to be a slightly different texture, but I’m enjoying it as a non vegan. I’m making it for a friends birthday, but I wanted it to impress and I think it may. Thanks! Also did mine in 9 inch and came out kinda short, but still great texture so just making another batch and turning it into a 4 layer cake to be fancy. ;) I also did 1 cup soy milk and 1/2 cup cold water just for that soy flavor and maybe to make it a little heavier. :)

  • James October 23, 2016, 7:14 pm

    Thank you for this recipe! I’ve based myself on it to make a smaller gluten-free vegan cake (using half the amount of batter), and then added some spices to it for extra flavour.

  • Lucia Colomar January 13, 2017, 2:26 pm

    Hii! Im making the cake but how much coconut oil do I use?

  • judy February 20, 2017, 9:47 pm

    This look delicious! Do you know how long I should bake this if I’m making a bunt cake?

  • katia April 3, 2017, 3:49 pm

    is this cake nice to cover with fondant?

  • Kris May 6, 2017, 7:01 pm

    Can I use this for a cupcake recipe as well?