You may know by now that I try to make desserts that are both delicious and (a bit) better for you than traditional baked goods. But when it comes to cake, I simply can’t accept any substitutes for a sugary, buttery frosting. Keep your whipped cream and coconut butter, I NEED BUTTERCREAM. Or in my case vegan buttercream.
I’ve attempted vegan buttercream frostings in the past, and this one is by far my favorite. It’s devilishly sweet, buttery tasting, and stable enough to frost a 3-layer cake in an 80°F apartment. The secret? Add a bit of vegetable shortening. Yes. I know. Maybe you think it’s gross or too unhealthy. But the shortening really helps to stabilize this frosting. You could leave the shortening out and replace it with vegan butter, but I can’t vouch for the results.
As for making the vegan buttercream, it really is so simple. You’ll need vegan butter (I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks), vegan cream cheese (I used Trader Joe’s brand), vegetable shortening, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. Lots of powdered sugar. You’ll want the vegan butter to soften to room temperature, but you’ll keep the vegan cream cheese in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make your frosting. Before you add the cream cheese to your mixing bowl, pour out any liquid that has pooled at the top.
The cake itself is pretty straight-forward. I made an 8″ 3-layer cake, but this amount of batter will work for a 9″ 2-layer cake or even a thick 6″ 3-layer cake. For 8″ or 9″ pans, the cake layers will be thin and flat enough that you won’t need to trim the tops off. For a totally vegan cake, check the “notes” section below.
Some of the ingredients I love for this recipe:
Banana and pineapple make up a classic Hummingbird Cake. I like my bananas mashed and my pineapple crushed but feel free to chop your banana or use pineapple chunks!
Toasted pecans have a more prominent flavor than non toasted pecans, and it takes so little time to pop them in the oven and let them toast.
Extra light olive oil gives this cake moisture while maintaining a low flavor profile.
White whole wheat flour is a whole wheat flour that’s lighter in color and sweeter in taste. It’s milled from the whole hard white wheat berry, so it has more naturally occurring nutrients than all-purpose flour.
All-purpose flour helps keep this cake soft. It balances out the white whole wheat flour.
Cinnamon and nutmeg add a bit of cozy spice. Feel free to play with your spices, adding more or less to suit your tastes.
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar
- 5 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
- 6 Tbsp extra light olive oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups mashed ripe banana (~2-3 bananas)
- 1 cup (8oz) crushed pineapple (with juice)
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup vegan butter, softened to room temp (I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 8oz vegan cream cheese, straight from the refrigerator (I used Trader Joe's brand)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2-2 lbs powdered sugar
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare your cake pans. Spray each pan with olive oil and then line the bottoms with a parchment paper circle. If your pecans aren't already toasted, now would be a good time to toast them - spread them out on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for around 10 minutes or until toasted. If you plan to frost your cake the same day, you can set out your vegan butter.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and coconut sugar. Stir in the toasted chopped pecans.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk, olive oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Add in the mashed banana and pineapple. Add liquid ingredients to dry and gently mix until no flour pockets remain.
- Divide the batter equally into your pans. For three 8" pans, bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with a few crumbs, being sure to rotate your pans halfway through baking.
- Allow cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Run a butter knife around the edges, invert a cooling rack over the top, and then flip over. Your cakes should all come out easily. Gently remove the parchment paper circles and throw away.
- Once your cakes have cooled completely, you can make your frosting. Drain liquid from the vegan cream cheese, and then, in a large bowl, beat together the vegan butter, shortening, and vegan cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add 16oz of the powdered sugar and beat. Continue adding powdered sugar until you've reached the desired consistency. If you end up adding too much sugar, you can add water or nut milk 1 tsp at a time to thin the frosting out.
- Now you can begin frosting your cake! I added 3/4 cup of frosting between each layer and then smoothed the rest onto the sides and top of the cake. Decorate your cake with pecans and enjoy! Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator if your home is warm.
- For vegan cake: use 3 flax eggs in place of the eggs. 1 flax egg = 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 Tbsp water. Let thicken for 5 minutes.
- For 2-layer cake: this recipe will also work for two 9" cakes. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, check cakes, and continue baking until done.
- To make ahead: Cakes can be made in advance. Once totally cool, wrap each cake in plastic wrap and then wrap in foil, being sure to seal totally. Refrigerate until ready to frost.
- For less sugar: you can use less frosting between the layers and make a "naked" cake.
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Serving Size:1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 759 Total Fat: 32g Saturated Fat: 11g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 19g Cholesterol: 69mg Sodium: 468mg Carbohydrates: 116g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 92g Protein: 7g