Nobody needs my dedication to butter, milk, buttermilk, cream, crème fraîche, sour cream, or eggs clarified here; we all know I get a little twitchy when the fridge is low on any. These vegan cupcakes are not an abnegation of anything, but a celebration, as they should be. What has surprised me the most since I happened on the first vegan cake recipe here, the Chocolate Olive Oil Cake, a couple years ago is not what it is “missing” — you’d never know — but what it does astoundingly better than cakes with any of my usual crutches: it’s even more moist and plush. Who knew that eggs in cakes were sometimes a …hindrance? Definitely not me.
Armed with this knowledge, I was eager to apply it to a classic white cake — plus some sprinkles, as I think we need all of the joy and color we can get right now. Confetti cakes can be a bit of a struggle; the egg whites make them seem more stiff and dry. They’re sensitive to overmixing and overbaking. This cake skips the eggs entirely, uses oil instead of butter, and the result is one-bowl, five minutes from measuring to baking, magic. It’s also really hard to mess up. I tried swapping fats and milks, I’ve even overbaked it, and it did not care. Plus, the texture is even perfect cold from the fridge, which is rarely the case of cakes with butter in them. You are in for such a treat.
A few questions, pre-answered:
- Sprinkles: You can make this without sprinkles and have a very lovely white birthday cake.
- Sizes and shapes: You can make this as a single (1″ tall) layer 9″ round or 8″ square cake; they bake in 25 minutes. You can make this as two 6″ round cakes, and stack them; check the 6″ cakes at 20 minutes, and add more time if needed.
- Ingredients: I’ve made this with melted vegan butter/margarine, coconut oil, and vegetable oil and all work. I’ve made this with oat milk and almond milk; both work. I’ve only tested it with all-purpose flour.
- Flavors: One of the things I struggled with in developing this cake was that when using liquids and fats designed with a neutral flavor profile in mind, a flavor boost is needed. A little lemon juice doesn’t make the cake lemon-flavored at all, just adds a little fragrance. Ditto with the dash of almond extract not making the cake taste like marzipan. I use a bit more vanilla than I usually would for a cake this size and it’s great here. If you have and like vanilla bean paste, you can use that for 1/2 teaspoon of the extract here.
- Frosting options: Shown here is a whipped (non-dairy) cream cheese topping; it’s softer than a frosting you’d use to pipe, or to fill a cake. For a more classic quick non-dairy buttercream, beat 4 ounces (1/2 cup) non-dairy cream cheese, 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) non-dairy butter, margarine, or shortening, 2 cups powdered sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract until fluffy. This is enough for 12 cupcakes, the top of an 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake, or to frost and fill a 2-layer 6-inch round cake.
- Vegan ingredients: Not all sprinkles are strictly vegan. Always check labels where there is a concern.
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Plush Confetti Cupcakes
- 1 cups plus 7 tablespoons (190 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
- 1 cup (235 ml) unsweetened non-dairy milk such as soy, almond, or oat
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) neutral oil or melted vegan butter
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles
- 8 ounces (1 cup) non-dairy cream cheese
- 3/4 cup (90 grams) powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together until well-mixed. Make a slight well in the center and add the non-dairy milk, oil, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond. Whisk the wet and dry ingredients together just until no lumps remain. Stir in sprinkles (the higher amount is shown here) with a flexible spatula.
Divide batter between 12 cups; each will be 2/3 full.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out batter-free. Let cupcakes cool completely — this took about 5 minutes outside on a freezing day.
To finish: Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar and vanilla until lightly whipped. Dollop about 1.5 tablespoons on each cupcake and spread it out in swirls. Finish with an extra pinch of sprinkles.
Do ahead: Cupcakes keep in the fridge for several days, but they won’t last that long.
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