If you love lemon, this cake will make your “Top 3 cake recipes… ever” list and you don’t even have to be a vegan! In fact, I’m pretty sure there are at least two people out there who ate this cake and had no idea it was devoid of animal products, the crumb is so perfect and the “cream cheese” frosting makes it so moist, and that’s what makes it one of my new favorite cakes. I don’t think I’m actually going to tell them it was vegan. They’ll find out if they read this post.
I did finally find my new favorite alternative cream cheese though, because that was always my hang up when baking for vegan friends who wanted a “cream cheese” frosting. There are many brands and I wanted one that had a flavor as close to actual cream cheese and not a slightly funny soy aftertaste that I felt in some brands. Lo and behold, I find it at one of my favorite stores, Trader Joe’s. So if you are looking for a dairy-free alternative to cream cheese, get the to your local Trader Joe’s and be happy. As a cream cheese snob, I am very happy to have an alternative for my friends who avoid dairy that I like just as much as the real thing.
Can I also tell you how much I like this naked cake trend? It looks so rustic and like I need to take it to a picnic and provides such a nice backdrop for sprinkles! It’s also very accessible for non-decorators. Just make sure you level your layers (chill them well before you do to prevent breaking!), and use an even amount of frosting between each layer. Easy! If you’d prefer not to split layers and have a more classic looking cake, this recipe makes enough to fill and frost your 8″ cake, or frost about 2 dozen cupcakes.
- 2 c non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
- 3 c all-purpose flour
- 2 c granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 c neutral-flavored oil (I used avocado)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- zest from 1 lemon
- 1/4 c lemon juice
"Cream Cheese" Frosting
- 8 oz package vegan cream cheese
- zest of 1 lemon
- 5-6 c sifted powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- sprinkles, optional
- Preheat your oven to 350. Spray two 8" cake pans with nonstick spray and line with a parchment paper circle. Spray the circle. Set aside.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in a bowl.
- In another bowl combine the milk, oil, vanilla extract, and lemon juice.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well to combine.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes (20-25 minutes for cupcakes) until the center of the cake no longer jiggles and springs back when touched.
- Remove from the oven, allow to set in the cake pan for 5 minutes, then carefully invert onto a wire rack to cool. If you plan to torte (split) the layers to create the 4 layer cake in the photos, wrap each cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours until well chilled. This makes them easier to cut evenly and stack.
- Make the frosting by placing the cream cheese, vanilla, and lemon zest in the bowl of your mixer and beating on high 2 minutes. Add the first 5 cups of powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition to incorporate. Add additional powdered sugar 2-3 tbsp at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
- To stack the cake layers, remove the two chilled larger layers of cake from the refrigerator, and using a cake leveler or a serrated knife, carefully cut each in half. You will have four even, thin, cake rounds.
- Place the first round on your cake plate or board, then add 1/4 of the frosting and spread evenly around the cake. Top with the next layer, another 1/4 of the frosting, and repeat for the third and fourth layers.
- Top with sprinkles if desired. 🙂