Red velvet cake has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Is it chocolate cake? Is it dyed vanilla cake? It doesn’t really taste like either one, but it also kinda tastes like both. It’s basically the twilight zone of cakes.
I made a red velvet cake several months ago, and it turned out great. Boyfriend liked it, I liked it, coworkers liked it. However…it wasn’t a VEGAN red velvet cake. After the success of that cake, it was my secret mission to create an equally fabulous (or even more fabulous!) VEGAN red velvet cake. Not kidding, it has actually been written down on my “Recipes to Make” list since then. Until now! Because this recipe definitely fulfills my secret mission. And I think I might’ve actually achieved the “even more fabulous!” rating for this one.
A typical red velvet recipes calls for buttermilk in order to create the soft, moist crumb associated with this type of cake. Since this is a vegan version, though, no buttermilk is used. And yet, just like magic, the ingredients still come together to create a lovely, fluffy, delicate texture. Huzzah!
Layer cakes have always been very daunting to me. Every time I wonder if I’ve greased the pans enough, if all the surfaces are floured sufficiently, if I failed at both and the bottoms of my cake layers will stick to the pans and result in a terrible (…but still tasty…) mess. So to avoid all of that anxiety, I started using parchment paper circles in the bottoms of my pans. It’s brilliant. A circle of parchment + a light coat of non-stick spray on the sides = easy and effective removal from cake pans. So if you feel the same way I did about layer cakes, try out that method and you’ll find there’s no more reason to worry!
Another daunting feature of making a layer cake is the part where you’re supposed to cut off the rounded tops of your layers. I admit it: I am terrible at cutting flat cake layers. However, I mostly like to blame that not on my own human shortcomings, but on the fact that none of my serrated knives are long enough to span the entire 9″ cake layer. So I finally did it for this cake…I went out an bought myself a GIANT serrated knife. I felt very excited for my new special knife, but I also felt a bit overly self-conscious while standing in the store’s check-out line with my new special knife…
- 3 cups cake flour, sifted
- ½ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups non-dairy milk (I used plain unsweetened almond milk)
- 2/3 cup canola oil
- 2 Tablespoons (1 oz.) red food coloring
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), softened to room temperature
- 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons non-dairy milk (I used plain unsweetened almond milk)
- pinch of salt
- Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottoms of two 9" round cake pans with parchment paper circles, and then lightly grease the sides of the pans with non-stick spray.
- In a large bowl, gently whisk together both sifted flours, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the milk, oil, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla, and gently stir with a spatula until thoroughly combined and no flour pockets remain. Be careful not to over-mix.
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes pull away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean.
- Place cakes on a wire rack and let cool in the pans for at least 1 hour. Run a knife around the edges of the cakes to loosen, then invert the pans to remove the cakes. Wrap the layers in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple hours (or overnight) before assembling.
- Make the frosting: Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter for several minutes on medium speed until it is smooth and slightly fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the sifted powdered sugar, and then continue to mix on medium speed for a couple more minutes.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low again, and add the vanilla, milk and salt. Once all ingredients are combined, mix on medium-high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 3 to 4 minutes. If frosting is too thick, add another Tablespoon or two to thin. If frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar to thin.
- Assemble the cake: Cut off the rounded tops of each cake layer using a large, sharp, serrated knife. Place one layer on a plate or cake stand. Spread some of the frosting on top of the cake. Carefully set the other layer on top, rounded-side down, making sure it isn't lopsided. If it is, you can adjust it by carefully adding more frosting in between the layers. Once the layers are even, cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting.
- Cake can be covered and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator for several days. If stored in the fridge, let the cake sit out for at least 20 minutes to allow the frosting to soften slightly before eating.
- One 2-layer 9" round cake