This year, we had the privilege of making a wedding cake for our wonderful friend, Inez, on her big day. Being one of our oldest friends, we felt incredibly blessed and honoured to be asked. We hadn’t made a cake of this scale beforehand so embarking on this project meant taking things back to basics; we did the research and got to recipe testing! I can’t tell you quite how many vegan and gluten-free cakes we produced before finalising on the one below!
Making a vegan cake can be a challenge, as can making it gluten-free. But doing it both vegan and gluten-free meant a fair bit of trial and error to get the perfect, wedding-worthy taste, texture and appearance. We experimented with different flours, egg-replacers and ratios and I’m pleased to say we were really happy with the final creation. Doing things like this, something we hadn’t done before, was a fantastic opportunity to get creative, fine-tune our baking skills and make something for someone we care a lot about. If you’re ever tasked with making a vegan and gluten-free wedding cake, then please give our recipe a go – we poured a lot of time and love into making it and hope that it will be of help to others in the future!
There may be a few things in this recipe that you aren’t familiar with or haven’t used in baking before – trust us, though, we’ve trialled the lot and the ingredients we used are there for a reason! If you have any questions about anything listed below, please feel free to send us a message or add a comment at the bottom – we’ll be happy to advise and help out wherever possible!
If you’re going to give this recipe a whirl, we’d recommend starting small and familiarising yourself with the ingredients and process before embarking on all tiers.
FOR THE CAKES
If you’re making this vegan, gluten-free wedding cake, you’ll want to do it in stages. The cake recipe below makes two of the layers. We settled on six layers but this is entirely up to you and how big you need the cake to be.
- 1 pack of cake dowels, either wooden or plastic
- 200g vegan margarine
- 200g caster sugar
- Juice of half a clementine (or half a lemon, depending on what flavour you’re going for)
- Zest of a whole clementine (or lemon)
- 2 tbsp plain soya yoghurt
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 150g gluten-free self-raising flour. We found that this Doves Farm one worked best, but there wasn’t much of a difference when we used the supermarket own brands.
- 1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder (yes, even though we’re using self-raising flour!)
- Pinch of salt
- 75g ground almonds
FOR THE AQUAFABA
- the drained liquid from 1 can of chickpeas
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
This is going to cover the cake, so it’s got to taste top notch! We found that your typical vegan margarine mixed with icing sugar just didn’t cut it. After coming across this coconut block from Stork, we experimented with different ratios and found that mixing this with margarine produced a much richer buttercream. The thinking here was to create a more ‘solid’ frosting – one that more closely resembled the texture and consistency of that made with real butter. If you can get your hands on the coconut block, we strongly advise it. You can opt for just margarine alone, but you won’t get the same stability from it and you may find yourself using more icing sugar, in order to balance out the slight saltiness from the margarine. Below is the recipe we used which we found perfectly rich and buttery whilst creating a solid barrier
- 150g vegan margarine, softened – we used Flora Dairy Free
- 150 g Stork coconut block, softened slightly
- 550 g icing sugar
- Drop of vanilla essence
FOR THE DECORATION
- Dried clementines (slice 7 clementines into thin slices, dry with a clean towel and place in the oven at 110C for about 2 hours, checking regularly so they don’t burn or get stuck). We advise turning them every half an hour.
- Dried rose petals
- Edible flowers, optional
As stated above, this cake recipe makes two layers. For the final wedding cake, we made six layers (three tiers made up of two sponges each). This was the perfect size for the number of guests but feel free to make more or less depending on your requirements. Start by preheating your oven to 160C fan and greasing two 9″ circular cake tins, preferably with removable bottoms – this makes things a lot easier towards the end. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar – we found it’s best to do this using an electric whisk; doing so, you get a really fluffy, creamy mixture that better lends itself to incorporating the other ingredients. Once combined, mix in the citrus zest and juice, along with the soya yoghurt and vanilla essence.
When everything is well-incorporated, it’s time to whip up your aquafaba. Drain the liquid from a can of chickpeas into a super clean and dry (sounds strange, but it’s really important) glass bowl. Add 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and start to whip using an electric whisk on high speed. The time it takes to reach stiff peaks can vary, but in our experience, it’s always past the 4 minute mark and can take up to 10 minutes. Keep moving the bowl and mixture around so as to ensure all the contents get whipped. Once you’ve got stiff peaks, your aquafaba is ready to use!
Spoon about 2/3 of the mixture into the cake batter and gently incorporate, without mixing too vigorously. We advise using a metal spatula or spoon as it won’t knock out as much air as a wooden spoon will. Once the aquafaba is completely mixed in, pour the batter into your two cake tins. Place in the oven to bake for around 45 mins to an hour. **Note, on occasion, the cakes can come out with a slightly wet base, if this occurs, simply take a knife and gently scrape the bottom. If this happens, do not worry! By gently scraping off the wet crumbs that can form on the base, this results in a perfectly baked cake!
Repeat the process for multiple layers. For an added touch, we cut the top two layers out in the shape of a heart, simply by pressing down on the cake with a cookie cutter and then neatening the edges with a knife.
ASSEMBLING & DECORATING
Using an electric whisk, combine the vegan margarine with the coconut block, icing sugar and vanilla essence. You can play around with the flavours if you want the buttercream to have a more noticeable role – we experimented with adding lemon juice and zest which worked well, but ultimately settled on vanilla. Layer by layer, spread the buttercream onto the cakes, in between and around the edges. We love the naked icing look and this is pretty easily achieved by continuously adding and scraping the buttercream off using a palette knife. The frosting needs to be at a workable temperature, if it’s too warm, pop it in the fridge for a bit until it is a little more sturdy. Similarly, if it’s too hard, leave to rest before attempting to spread it onto your cakes. Most importantly, wait until your cakes have completely cooled before attempting the icing – if your cakes are even slightly hot, the icing will end up as a goopy mess which can lead to tears (not speaking from experience…)
After each layer is iced, we’d advise keeping it in the fridge – you’ll need to clear out some space, but it will ensure the frosting stays in perfect condition. When you’re ready to assemble, take your cake dowels and cut them to size. As mentioned earlier, we did three tiers, using two layers of cake per tier. With a cake this size, we found that using four dowels inserted into the first tier was enough to keep the cake sturdy. If you haven’t used cake dowels before, take a look at this video which you may find useful – we certainly did!
Everything assembled? Great! Now it’s time to decorate. You have complete creative freedom here, but you may wish to use our version as inspiration. Naked icing is a great look on its own, but we decided to decorate the cakes with a ring of dried clementines and a topping of dried rose petals. You can even add a few edible flowers for an extra flourish.
Tried or thinking of trying this recipe? We would absolutely love to hear from you or see pictures of your creations! Drop us a message or leave a comment below. And enjoy!