Conventional baking already requires a lot of precision, so you can imagine when you take dairy, eggs, and gelatin out of the equation it can complicate things. However, there are many recipes for specifically vegan cakes and tips for how to adapt standard recipes into vegan ones.
Vegan cakes do not require more bake time than non-vegan cakes. The time it takes to bake any cake depends largely on the recipe or kind of cake you’re baking. Baking times generally range from 20-45 minutese.
Below we’ll answer some common questions in vegan baking to avoid mistakes that require rebaking or restarting your vegan cake.
How Do You Know When a Vegan Cake Is Done
To know how long to bake a cake, you first need to be able to tell when it’s done. When the pastry is fully cooked, it should:
- be firm but bouncy
- easily separate from the cake pan
- leave no residue on an inserted toothpick
- appear golden brown
What to Do if Your Cake Is Undercooked
If you take the cake out too early, you may be able to rebake it as long as it hasn’t completely cooled. Unfortunately, once the cake has significantly cooled, rebaking it will only dry it out.
If parts of your cake are cooked while others aren’t, there are a few options to try to even everything out.
If the cake is randomly uneven, you can rotate the cake 180 degrees or cover the cooked sections in foil and put it back in the oven. If the center is the part that’s undercooked, cover the whole cake tightly in tin foil to trap the heat and cook the center.
Investing in an oven thermometer can also help avoid undercooking, as your oven may not actually be at the temperature you set it.
Additionally, always make sure to preheat your oven before placing the cake inside.
Unfortunately, if you take the cake out too late and it’s burnt, there’s no saving it. Any unburnt filling or batter could be transferred to a different crust, however.
Why Is My Vegan Cake so Dense
In vegan baking, egg replacers can often create dense cakes because they’re missing the egg protein that would normally build the cake’s structure. There are many options for egg replacements including packaged egg replacement or:
- corn or potato starch
- xantham gum
Choosing the right egg replacer for a non-vegan recipe, following what the vegan recipe recommends, or sometimes removing egg replacers altogether will help avoid a dense result.
Also, avoid adapting traditional cake recipes to vegan cakes by only directly substituting with an egg replacer. This won’t take into account how the egg replacement will interact with the other ingredients.
Outside of vegan substitutes, your cake may be dense if you’ve overmixed the cake batter, your oven isn’t the right temperature, there’s too much water, or there’s not enough gluten, baking powder, or baking soda. Also, try thoroughly sifting flour before mixing it into the batter to aerate it.
Try to have everything prepped in advance (oven preheated, lining the baking pan, etc) so that the batter can start cooking almost immediately after being made. When the batter sits, it can lose air and create density.
Why Is My Vegan Cake Not Cooking
Many imbalances in your batter could be preventing your vegan cake from cooking. Your batter may be too thin or watery, if so, decrease water content. It could also be an issue of not enough leavening (baking powder or baking soda), which can be fixed by adding more. If your leavening agents aren’t fresh (i.e. open for more than 3 months, not stored in airtight containers), you’ll need to buy new ones.
You may simply need to bake the cake for longer, or if the cake’s middle is the part not getting cooked you may need to lower the oven temperature.
Too much sugar or fat may also be preventing the interaction between water and gluten that would typically allow the cake to gain structure. Water, sugar, and fat are moisturizers, so if your cake is too wet it’ll be more difficult to cook.
As with dense cakes, undercooked cakes may have overmixed batter, or it could be an egg replacer issue. Test out other egg replacers and be careful not to continue mixing batter after ingredients are fully combined.
Other Tips for Vegan Cake-Baking
- Bring your ingredients to room temperature before mixing them.
- Avoid refridgerating cakes, this will dry them out. Instead wrap in foil and store at room temperature or freeze.
- Cakes with higher fat, moisture, and sugar content will keep longer before spoiling.
- Vegan cake batter may be much thicker than normal cake batter since it relies more on gluten and requires less water, resist the urge to add too much liquid to get it to resemble conventional cake batter.
- If you’re using flaxseed egg replacer, allow the flax and water mixture to rest before combining it with other ingredients.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients slowly.
- Use apple cider vinegar to help cakes rise and add moisture. It can also be used to curdle plant milk which improves cake structure.
Vegan Cake Recipes
Obviously, cooking a vegan cake can be quite complicated. It’s essentially a chemistry experiment, so it helps to work with tried-and-true recipes. Here are some popular vegan cake recipes to get you started: chocolate cake, white cake, sponge cake, Christmas fruit cake.