I love desserts! Who doesn’t? If there is one thing I love more than desserts though, it’s coming up with simple ways to make the recipes healthier and easier on the stomach! That is why I’m really fond of this vegan, gluten-free red velvet cake. Not only does it not contain dairy or wheat, but it packs extra fiber from the flax seeds and pre-biotic fiber from the green banana leaf flour! But don’t worry it doesn’t taste or smell like bananas at all and it’s by far the best alternative to wheat flour I have found.
But what is a red velvet cake? The velvet is meant to refer to the light fluffy texture of the cake, as when the vinegar reacts with the baking powder, it gives the cake a lot of airiness. It is rumored to have originated from a recipe card that was placed on red food coloring packages from Adams Flavors, Foods & Ingredients company, based in Gonzales, Texas in the 1920s. The red velvet cake is really a chocolate cake with red food coloring traditionally topped with white icing or cream cheese frosting, though the chocolate flavor is very subtle, which is why many speculate that the red velvet cake is really just an excuse to have the cream cheese frosting!
Because of the lovely red color and its striking contrast against the clean, crisp white frosting, this is the perfect cake to make on festive occasions like Christmas, birthdays and especially Valentine’s Day! If you’re like me and you don’t like your cakes too sweet, you can control how much powdered sugar you add to the cream cheese frosting as well as the sugar you add to the cake mixture itself. I personally also don’t really like a frosting that is too thick, so mine pretty much gets absorbed into the layers of the cake, which I quite like. But if you prefer a thicker frosting I recommend chilling the frosting in the fridge for at least 20 mins for it to firm up a little before you frost the cake.
Vegan Red Velvet Cake
- 3 cups Green banana leaf flour or all purpose flour
- ½ cup Cocoa powder
- 3 cups Brown sugar or white sugar
- 1 tsp Baking soda
- 1 tsp Baking powder
- 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt - regular salt will do fine too
- 1 tbs Chia seeds
- 3 tbsp Flaxseeds
- 160 ml water - to make the flax eggs
- ½ tsp pink salt
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp white vinegar - I was all out of white vinegar so I used ACV instead
- 2 cups Unsweetened plant milk - I used coconut milk but you can use oat milk, soy...etc
- 2 tsp Vanilla
- Coconut oil or melted vegan butter
- 1 oz red food coloring - I used a gel
- 9 oz vegan cream cheese
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small pot melt the coconut oil on low heat.
Mix the vinegar with the plant-based milk to make the vegan buttercream.
Mix together ground flax seeds and water to make the vegan egg substitute.
Mix all the dry ingredients together.
Mix all the wet ingredients together.
Grease and flour two cake tins.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and make sure it’s well combined so that there are no lumps!
Pour the cake mixture into the cake tins, making sure to divide the mixture equally between the two tins. Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.
While the cake is baking, place the vegan cream cheese and vanilla into a large mixing bowl.
Slowly add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, until the desired sweetness and consistency is achieved. To make a firmer frosting, place the mixture in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
When the cakes are done baking, remove from the oven and leave out to cool for 20 minutes before removing them from the cake tins.
Remove the cakes from the cake tins and carefully place on a cooling rack to cool.
When the cakes are cool to the touch, assemble the cake and frost with the cream cheese frosting.
STEP ONE – PREHEAT OVEN + MAKE BUTTERCREAM
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small pot melt the coconut oil on low heat. Mix 1 tsp vinegar with the plant-based milk to make the vegan buttercream and let sit for 10 minutes to curdle.
STEP TWO – EGG SUBSTITUTE
Mix together 3 tablespoons of ground flax seeds with 160ml water (or 9 tablespoons) to make the vegan egg substitute. Set aside for ten minutes to let the vegan egg develop. After 10 minutes or so, the flax seeds should create a thick egg-like slime. But don’t worry, you won’t be able to taste it at all! You’ll want to make the vegan buttercream and egg substitute first before you get started on anything else.
STEP THREE – MIX DRY INGREDIENTS
Mix all the dry ingredients together; green banana leaf flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cayenne pepper, pink salt…etc. You don’t necessarily have to sift any of the ingredients. I like to mix it all up with a fork first to get rid of any large visible lumps and clumps.
STEP FOUR – MIX WET INGREDIENTS
Mix the buttercream, flax eggs, red food coloring, coconut oil..etc in a large mixing bowl.
STEP FIVE – GREASE CAKE TINS
Grease two 8 inch cake tins. I used a springform tin but you can use whatever works best for you.
STEP SIX – MIX INGREDIENTS
Carefully mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, making sure everything is well combined so that there are no clumps in the cake batter.
STEP SEVEN – POUR CAKE MIXTURE
Carefully divide the cake batter between two 8 inch cake tins. Remember to tap the tins against your work surface to get any air bubbles to rise to the surface. Place the two cake tins into the preheated oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. For a moist fudgy cake, bake for a shorter time, for a chewier, more dense cake, bake for longer.
STEP EIGHT – MAKE FROSTING
While the cake is baking, mix together the vegan cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add more sugar for a thicker frosting.
STEP NINE – LET CAKES COOL
Once the cakes are done baking, carefully remove them from the oven and leave to cool for at least 20 minutes before taking them out of the cake tins.
STEP TEN – REMOVE FROM CAKE TIN
Once the cakes have had a little time to cool, carefully remove them from the cake tins and place on a cooling rack until they are cool to the touch. You want to make sure the cakes are well cooled before attempting to frost them or else the frosting will melt right off the cake!
STEP ELEVEN – ASSEMBLE CAKE
It’s frosting time! I’m not that good at frosting cakes and I prefer a more rustic aesthetic myself, so don’t stress too much about decorating the cake. The contrast between the white frosting and the bright red cake alone will make the cake look great no matter how you decorate it! I decided to go with some raspberries and almond flakes, as I like a bit of texture in my cakes.
Since I used coconut oil in my cake mixture it turned out a little firmer than I initially wanted but still tasted amazing, especially when paired with a nice cup of coffee! I didn’t really mind, but I think to remedy this, next time I would add a little more coconut milk and bake for a shorter time. However, if you’re more of a casual baker and can’t keep a very strict eye on the time, I recommend using vegetable oil instead of coconut oil. Vegetable oil will keep the cake super moist, as coconut oil hardens when it’s cooled. The subtle hint of cayenne pepper really gave this cake a great kick; the gentle contrast between the bitter cocoa, sweet frosting and spicy cayenne makes it hard to just stick to one slice. If you don’t want to use cream cheese to frost the cake you can definitely go with whipped cream and a light dusting of powdered sugar. It takes less effort but tastes just as good and is perfect for those of us with a not-so-sweet-tooth! This cake batter is also great to pour into cupcake molds! Swirl some whipped cream and sprinkles on top and you’re good to go!
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.