Friday, June 26, 2009

recipe: birthday cake frosting

Today is my good friend Amy's birthday. In the hallowed tradition of making birthdays last three days at the absolute minimum, Nathan and I brought gifts, flowers and a vegan birthday cake to her house last night. My usual method for baking a vegan cake is to buy a box of Duncan Hines cake mix (which is vegan, as is), substitute applesauce and soymilk for eggs and cow's milk, and bake as directed. This usually results in a cake that, while tasty, falls apart as soon as it's lifted from the pan it was baked in. I like to refer to this phenomenon as "volcano cake."

It finally occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, the cakes weren't staying together because applesauce, while vegan and healthy, is not the best substitute for the binding power of eggs. Yesterday I grabbed my copy of La Dolce Vegan, found a simple recipe for chocolate cake, and gave the whole "from scratch" thing a shot.

The results were amazing - my cake was firm, chocolaty and cooked to perfection. While I can't find the recipe online, and don't want to be the first douche to publish it without permission, I can share with you the recipe I used for the frosting. Sweet yet subtle with a touch of raspberry, it was the perfect compliment to the chocolate and ridiculously easy to whip up. Consider my fear of homemade frosting a thing of the past.

Raspberry Swirl Cake Frosting (adapted from


3 heaping Tbsp Earth Balance (I always err on the side of more butter)
1 cup vegan powdered sugar
2 tablespoons raspberry jam
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Using a hand mixer, cream the butter in a bowl until it's smooth and pale in color. Add the jam and beat again until combined.

2) Sift the sugar and add it to the bowl 1/4 cup at a time. Beat after each addition, until the sugar is completely incorporated.

3) Add the vanilla extract and beat the mixture until very soft and smooth.

My version will give you enough frosting for one 9-inch cake, with a little extra to lick off the spoon. Happy baking!


  1. tell me about powdered sugar: why not automatically vegan?

  2. ps the cake looks amazing, and i have also used those star candles and think they're so cute.

  3. star candles are the best! i saved them to reuse because i am thrifty. or just cheap.

    sugar is not always vegan because some companies use bone char (from animals) to whiten their sugar. here's an article about it:

    i just use kroger organic sugar and assume it's vegan. i'll probably keep assuming until i find out otherwise. :)

  4. Good job, Chrissy. I didn't know that about sugar, but I almost always use sugar in the raw and grind it for my powdered sugar ... I think I'm safe.

  5. Your cake looks amazing and sounds delish. I might like my pc monitor.

    On sugar whitened with bone: barf.

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  7. It looks delicious. I love Chrissy vegan cakes :)

  8. So I could have used your vegan cake advice the other day when I made (tried to make) my own no milk/no egg birthday cake. Three times. Unsuccessfully. But if you ever want to know how to bake your own frisbees, maybe we could swap recipes.

  9. Wow-- I just got an education. This is like when I learned that wool upsets people as an animal rights issue: no idea. And vegan sugar: who knew? And grinding regular sugar into powdered sugar certainly stands to reason, but again, I was never a know-er of the path from A to B. Also, your cake looks delicious Chrissy!

  10. @stokat - i can send you the recipe. it's really simple and easy!
    @mary.t - it can be hard to do the right thing, which is why i only worry about doing the best i can. :)