How to Veganize a Cake Recipe - The Food Science behind Vegan Cakes
Sometimes you just have a recipe that you like. You grew up with it. Like the teddy bear that accompanied you through the thick and thin of your youth, certain sweets have always been there for you to bring you up when you’re down, celebrate your milestones and bring you and your friends together. They’re almost a part of you. You have a subconscious bond with these types of foods because you identify with them, they make you feel good and they define part of the personal culture that is you. This is part of the definition of comfort food.
Vegan cake disasters
Understanding traditional cakes
Cake building blocks
The Quick Bread Method
Here's an example of a recipe using the Quick Bread Method.
The Cream Method
Here's an example of a recipe using the Cream Method.
What happens during cake baking, a timeline
Vegan cakes are different
Okay, enough of this food science jibber jabber- How do you veganize cakes?
1) Use gluten as your main structure builder
2) Forget everything you know about proper cake batter consistency
3) Forget about egg replacers
4) Embrace failure because it’s the best way to learn baking
Vegan Cake Troubleshooting
|Cake Condition||Explanation||Fixing Options|
|Sank in the middle||Usually caused by batter being too thin, lack of leavening power or excess sugar robbing water from gluten. Can also be caused by excessive fat.|
Reduce water content.
Reduce sugar content.
Increase baking powder and baking soda.
Reduce fat content
|Didn't rise at all||Usually caused by batter being too thin or lack of leavening power.|
Reduce water content.
Increase baking powder and baking soda.
|Too Dry||Usually caused by excessive baking time or lack of water and/or fat.|
Decrease baking time.
Add additional water and/or fat.
Get a price on the 8 Inch Round Cake Pan I Recommend at Amazon.
22 commentsView most helpful
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I have been attempting to make vegan cakes for a year now and would always end up with dense bakes. I have been making traditional cakes from 10 years of age and never considered this to be the cause of my disasters. However, this article has informed me of the errors of my ways by explaining the reasoning behind each step of baking. After reading (and re-reading) this page plus a few more on this site, I was able to knowledgeably adapt my favourite recipes with great success! I am forever thankful for this information and had to share my gratitude- thank you! Finally, homemade vegan cakes can be as good as traditional bakes!
Thanks from a potential future vegan
I'm someone who loves baking and has acquired a decent amount of knowledge about how ingredients like eggs and gluten affect cakes (and bread). I think one of the things that perhaps has scared me away from even experimenting with a vegan lifestyle is the idea of leaving that knowledge behind and feeling like I won't understand a recipe that's doomed to fail when reading it. This happens a little too frequently. Vegan baked goods have always failed in our household. I've pretty much just given up trying. (This is just one of various excuses, I'm realizing, though!)
Something I read recently made me rethink some things, and I'm seriously considering making some changes. I know I'll fail to go vegan if I can't bake from time to time. So armed with this knowledge, I feel as though I can plan a transition more successfully.
Thanks for such a detailed, clear explanation.
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I can't thank you enough for spreading this science about vegan baking!
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This looks delicious as i made in the previous month.
Just one correction...Quick bread method-is the same as the muffin method or blending method; one stage method is different. It's when you combine all of the room temperature ingredients into one bowl with a paddle until it's all combined. Didn't want to be a troll, just wanted to make sure the info was correct. Great read!
Can I veganize this cake?
Hi, I'm from Italy, and I'm not so used to veganize cake or biscuits!
I tried plenty of your recipe, I love them all, at the beginnig was quite hard finding the ingredients, but now I can make a lovely cake (always the same in actually!)
So I came here today lookin for something very specific like this reciper (http://delightfulemade.com/2015/08/19/frosted-apple-cinnamon-snack-cake/) but I didn't find anything similar, can you help me?
It seems really nice ^_^
Thanx in advance, I love your work!
Theres one missing from your troubleshooting guide! Cooked outside, pudding in the middle. Ive been experimenting with vegan recipes, and veganizing my own and not succeeding at all. Cook the recommended time and temp, and it looks good outside but soft in the middle. Can cook double the time and this is still happening. Any ideas?
Mattie, you are a god!!! Thank you so much for this article. I am just starting to learn vegan baking and this is perfect, it answered every question I had & I'm sure will save me many failed cakes!
Hi Mattie. Three words: angel food cake. There is a group of people trying desperately to create a vegan version of this classic using the newly discovered magic of "chickpea water". Would you be interested in helping this effort?
go to aquafaba.com to start.... Which mentions the fb group where people are posting their results. Thanks!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post!!! I'm into the science of baking and have been (attempting - ahem! ;) to veganize recipes for several years now. This helps me to have the right mindset, and I can't wait to try these techniques out on some recipes!
This is all great info. Since you have knowledge on the whole science behind vegan baking, I was hoping you could help me figure this out... This weekend I wanted to make a checkerboard cake. I bought Duncan Hines classic white and Duncan hines devils food. For the white I substituted melted butter for the veg oil and added ener-g egg replacer (first time I used it and was surprised it worked well). For the devils food, I used flax egg and the melted butter (smart balance light w flax oil is vegan). My cakes seemed to work out, I thought I had made a huge discovery! My excitement was short lived. Upon trying to cut into the cake I realized it was moist, too moist to the point where it almost broke apart. Of course, since I was doing a checkerboard cake, I had to cut circles inside the cake so I waited til the next day to do this step. I could barely stack the cakes on top of each other because the circles would break apart into pieces. I usually underbake my cakes by 1 min or so, as to promote moistness. When I finally finished the cake and got to cut into it, it didn't look too pretty on the inside. The checkerboard effect was there, but the cake was so moist that it would still almost fall apart. Can you shed some light on this? I usually make my cakes from scratch. The first time I actually use cake box and it's not a failure, but not a success.
My guinea pigs... ahem! family thank you so much f
I can't thank you enough for spreading this science about vegan baking! You really save me tons of disappointing results and spare my family a few unpleasant bites, since I use them as test dummies for my "I have to veganize that recipe" obsession they're often exposed to unknown results.
I hope you keep sharing these kind of knowledge, is really hard to find good information about vegan baking and now I feel like I know what should I do instead of just guessing!
Wow! i love this post
The scince of baking is something that i was trying to understand since a lot of time cause i'm vegan and i wanted to veganize some desserts, and i fail a lot. I really understand this about embrace failure. i think i have to read this post at least 3 times to understanding perfectly.
But i still have a question, I was trying to make donuts in the past but i never could make it perfect how could i adjust a donut recipe knowing this, because donut dough is soft soft but not than soft as a cake, I shoud try it using the quick bread method but with more flour?
Thanks for this i will study it...
Science of Baking - finally!!!
You have no idea how excited I was to see this post! I have been wondering for years what the science behind baking is. I was so curious, I even googled "baking science classes" at one point to see if there was some sort of chemistry course in the science of baking. Super nerdy, I know, but I like understanding how things work. I've also always wanted to be able to explain to people why eggs are not actually necessary for making incredible cakes, cookies, and other baked goods.
Thanks for sharing this information! I can't wait to apply it to a recipe of my own sometime soon :)
Wow, great job. I love the details and the explanation for each ingredient. I shared this with my customers.https://www.facebook.com/sanaasgourmet?ref=hl