This vegan cake recipe doubles down on the classic pairing of chocolate and orange, using the combination in both the crumb and the dairy-free buttercream frosting. It’s a simple dessert but feels fancy enough for a special occasion.
While some vegan cake recipes call for applesauce, flax eggs, or aquafaba for moisture and lift, baking soda and vinegar provide the leavening here, so be sure to get the cake into the oven right after mixing, lest the reaction wears off. Regular ol’ vegetable oil adds the fat, but you could switch it out for melted, cooled coconut oil if preferred. Finally, the cake gets extra sweetness and tang from orange juice concentrate, opening up a world of possibilities: Trade it for passion fruit or lime concentrate, both of which work great with chocolate, to change the flavor.
As for the frosting: When this recipe was first published in 2010, Earth Balance was the best vegan option around. Today, you have a world of plant-based butters to choose from. Our favorite for vegan buttercream is Wildbrine, made with cashew cream and coconut oil, but whatever you like to keep around will work.
Want to make a layer cake for a birthday party? The recipe doubles easily. Cupcakes? Yeah, you can portion the batter into a muffin tin (start checking for doneness at around 18 minutes). Need more vegan birthday cake ideas? This sophisticated vegan carrot cake is great for a small crowd, as is this vegan lemon cake with pistachios. For a larger group, you can’t go wrong with a chocolaty vegan cheesecake (that also happens to be gluten-free), but you can also veganize just about any non-vegan dessert with the right tools and ingredients.