For me, from-scratch cakes can be hard. They’ve always been hard. But especially when I had to stop eating dairy – then, they got really hard. The fact is – I admit it – I often turn to box mixes to make sure the cake turns out just right. Sure, the frosting is homemade, but the cake part? Well, hard!
Until now, that is!
This Vegan Devil’s Food Cake is one for the forever files – the cake I’ll turn to again and again when someone requests chocolate cake. Or when I crave chocolate cake. And not just any ol’ chocolate cake, but a rich and dark, moist and decadent situation, layered up in classic fashion with an equally fudgy buttercream frosting situation swooped inside and out.
Originally, when I was brainstorming recipes for October, I wanted to create a vegan devil’s food cake recipe that had big red marzipan devil horns. Because Halloween! And Devil’s food! And maybe someday, I’ll give that a whirl, and if I do, I’ll be sure to share it here. But the truth is, this is a devil’s food cake for anytime of year, and devil horns won’t quite translate as well in March as they would in October. So, please imagine the devil-horn cuteness that the season calls for, and then let’s carry on.
Okay, so here’s a description. First, for the cake itself, I adapted this devil’s food “Hostess” cupcakes recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I doubled the recipe and played with the sugar/maple syrup ratio, otherwise, I kept it pretty close to the original. It’s pretty perfect (and I need to try those cupcakes soon). I love how the cake layers are nice and sturdy – who wants to deal with fragile, broken layers when trying to assemble a special cake?! And the cake itself is moist with a dense dark chocolate flavor. So good.
For the buttercream, I played with this recipe from Connoisseurus Veg, changing around the measurements here and there and reducing the overall volume so we’d have the perfect amount for this Vegan Devil’s Food Cake.
The buttercream is a little trickier than the cake. For one, you’re relying on vegan butters, and sometimes this can taste a little off. I tested this recipe with both Earth Balance and Melt brand vegan butters. The most reliable texture was gained from the Earth Balance, but the flavor is out-of-this-world perfect with the Melt. However, I had problems with some of the Melt batches coming out grainy. I solved that problem by whipping the milk with the butter first as the source recipe calls for, but I just want to put it out there – if you try a different type of vegan butter, your buttercream may turn out a little different.
I like to bake this cake in 8-inch pans so that the finished product is nice and tall. But I’m sure it will work in 9-inch pans, too – they might just be done baking a couple of minutes earlier.
This is one of those winning chocolate cake recipes that might happen to be vegan, but is really delicious for everyone. I’m so excited to now have a reliable, delicious homemade vegan devil’s food cake recipe in my arsenal that I can pull out for birthdays and special occasions – box cake mixes begone!
Vegan Devil's Food Cake
For the cake:
- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 2 cups plain unsweetened soy milk
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 1 cup 2 sticks vegan butter at room temperature (I highly recommend Melt brand; Earth Balance will also work but in my opinion doesn't taste as good)
- 3-4 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk
- 2/3 cup dutch process cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans with oil or non-stick spray. Set aside.
- Make the cake. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Into the bowl of a stand mixer or in another large bowl (to mix with a hand mixer), add the soy milk, oil, sugar, maple syrup, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for two minutes.
- Add half the dry ingredients and mix to blend. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix at medium speed for 1 minute. The batter will be quite runny. Divide the batter between the two cake pans.
- Bake until the top springs back when you poke it and a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean, 25 - 30 minutes. Remove the cake pans from the oven and place on wire racks to start cooling. After 10 minutes, run a butter knife around the edges of the cakes to loosen them from the side, then invert onto a wire rack, removing the cake pan. Let cake rounds cool completely, 30-45 minutes. To expedite the cooling process, you can place the cakes in the freezer for about 10 minutes for the fridge for 20.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the clean stand mixer bowl affixed with a beater blade (or in a medium mixing bowl if you are using a hand mixer), add the vegan butter. If you're using the recommended brand (Melt) and it's room temperature, it should be very very soft. Add 3 tablespoons of the soy milk and beat until as incorporated as possible. Add the cocoa powder and mix until well combined and glossy. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Once all the powdered sugar has been added, beat frosting at medium speed for about 1 minute until it has lightened up a bit and is a bit fluffier. If the frosting seems too soft to spread on the cake, add more powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. If it's too stiff, add more soy milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the frosting is perfectly spreadable.
- Once the layers are cool, place the first layer on your cake plate. Add about 1/3 of the frosting to the top of the first layer and with a butter knife or offset spatula, smooth to the edges. Top with the second layer. Smooth a thin layer of frosting around the sides of the cake, then add another, thicker layer (the thinner layer first will help hold the crumbs in). Add the remaining frosting to the top of the cake and smooth with the knife or spatula, adding swoops and swirls how you see fit (or smoothing it all out - however you want, it's your cake!)
- Cut into slices, serve, and enjoy!