Making and decorating cakes from scratch may seem intimidating, but this cake is surprisingly easy to make and so much better than store-bought. It’s made with simple, plant-based ingredients and is perfect for birthdays, but is so good you may end up making it any chance you get.
You need just 10 main ingredients for the cake layers (that you probably already have in your kitchen):
- all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
- cocoa powder
- granulated sugar
- baking soda, baking powder, and salt
- soy milk
- apple cider vinegar
- avocado oil or neutral oil of choice
- pure vanilla extract
- warm water
And for the frosting, you need just five ingredients:
- vegan buttery sticks
- powdered sugar
- cocoa powder
- soy milk or nondairy milk of choice
- pure vanilla extract
How to decorate this cake
To decorate this cake, we use vegan rainbow sprinkles and extra frosting, creating a rope border along the top of the cake with a Wilton 2D tip. However, you can decorate it any way you’d like — we also love to add edible cookie dough balls or mini chocolate chips.
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For the cake
- 2 cups (480 mL) soy milk
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) apple cider vinegar
- 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
- 1/2 cup (50 g) cocoa powder
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) avocado oil or neutral oil of choice
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120 mL) warm water
For the frosting
- 1 cup (226 g) vegan buttery sticks
- 4 cups (500 g) powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup (25 g) cocoa powder
- 2+ tbsp (30+ mL) soy milk or nondairy milk of choice
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Vegan rainbow sprinkles
Make the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line three 6" round cake pans (or two 8" round cake pans) with parchment paper on the bottom and grease the sides with nonstick spray.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the soy milk and vinegar and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
- In the meantime, in a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Add the milk mixture, oil, and vanilla to the dry mixture. Mix just until combined.
- Add in the warm water and mix until just combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
- Bake for 32-38 minutes for 6" layers (or 36-40 minutes for 8" layers), until a toothpick comes out clean or with just crumbs, no raw batter.
- Set the layers aside to cool completely (you can also place in the freezer to get the layers extra cold which will help with frosting).
Make the buttercream
- Place the butter into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat for a couple minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and beat until combined.
- Add the milk and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add more milk, as necessary, until you reach a smooth but firm consistency.
Frost and decorate
- Once the cake layers are completely cooled (if they are warm at all, the frosting will melt and you will have a mess), remove from the pans, discard the parchment, and place one on a serving platter or cardboard cake round.
- Frost a layer of frosting on top of the cake. Repeat with a second cake layer and second layer of frosting. Place the final cake layer, upside down, on top.
- Frost a thin layer of frosting around the entire cake. Set in the freezer for 10-15 minutes (this is your crumb coat, it helps make the final layer of frosting look smooth and clean).
- Frost a thicker layer of frosting around the entire cake. Place any remaining frosting into a piping bag fitted with a piping tip of choice and use it to decorate the top of the cake. Decorate with sprinkles, as desired.
- Serve and enjoy!