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Wedding season is almost upon us. If you’re planning your big day and you’re vegan, you might want a cake that meets your dietary requirements.
Can All Classic Wedding Cake Flavors Be Made Vegan?
Depending on where you live, it might be a challenge to find a vegan bakery to make your wedding cake. Still, the idea of one is no longer outlandish.
Danielle Maupertuis, executive pastry chef at FreeFromDesserts, told Newsweek the most important thing is to appease both vegan and non-vegan guests, “to create a wedding cake with a taste and texture appreciated by both categories.”
The food industry has made great strides in researching and developing vegan substitutes, according to Maupertuis—so much so that every vegan baking expert who spoke to Newsweek for this article said most, if not all, classic wedding cake flavors can be adapted into plant-based versions. These include:
- Red velvet
- Salted caramel
Zoe Burke, editor of UK-based wedding planning website Hitched, said chocolate was a particularly good option. “Avocado is oftentimes used as an alternative to oils alongside cocoa powder to create the rich, chocolatey flavor of the non-vegan version,” she said. “The outcome is so similar, many never notice.”
Vegan Wedding Cake Ingredients
The plant-based food market is growing fast—and expected to be worth $36.3 billion by 2030, according to Allied Market Research.
Despite the misconception that vegan baking ingredients are “unusual and hard to source,” there are more available than ever before, said Fran Costigan, director of vegan baking and pastry arts at Rouxbe in Philadelphia.
Some of these ingredients have actually been around for decades, Costigan told Newsweek. In the 1930s, an “accidentally vegan” dessert known as the “Chocolate Depression Cake” became popular in American households—and it doesn’t contain eggs, butter or milk.
“Flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda, for example, are in most home pantries,” she said. “Vegan cane sugar is easy to find. Plant milks today are everywhere and can be swapped for dairy milk.”
Replacing eggs as a binding agent can be trickier. According to Niki Webster of Rebel Recipes, a common mistake made by novice bakers is not adding enough egg replacement, which can lead to a crumbly cake.
When it comes to replacing dairy, alternative ingredients may be better suited for nailing the desired flavor. “When you’re making a vegan cake, you are actually at a flavor advantage, because dairy fat mutes strong flavors,” said Lisa Neumann, chef and co-owner of Hark! Café in Minneapolis.
Vegan Wedding Cake Design
Decorating a vegan cake is not as straightforward. Ready-to-use vegan cake decorations can be difficult to source, so elaborate creations might be difficult.
Vegan butters are readily available at most major retailers, but some taste similar to margarine, “which may be an undesirable flavor in classic buttercream frosting,” Neumann told Newsweek.
“Decorating with vegan frostings can be the [most] challenging part of creating vegan wedding cakes,” says Tyler Comeau, baking supervisor at Healthy Living Market & Cafe in South Burlington, Vermont.
“It really makes you miss a nice buttercream when you’re trying to pipe with vegan frosting for the first time.”
Jo Hunter, founder of Piglet’s Pantry in Worthing, south-east England, agreed. “It can be quite hard to get vegan decorations of the same quality,” she told Newsweek. “However, the market is catching up with new developments.”
You may also have to compromise on the height of your wedding cake. Since most plant-based cakes won’t bind as well as ones that contain eggs, they lack stability, said Mariama Fernandez, London-based founder of The Yummiverse. “It’s best that when constructing a vegan wedding cake, you don’t make it very high.”
Flavors to Consider
Deep Chocolate Cake
A classic chocolate flavor may win over non-vegan guests thanks to its simplicity. “Chocolate is a very strong, rich, indulgent flavor,” said Domenica Lazo, assistant applications chef at Barry Callebaut Group in Chicago. “It is very easy to cover any weird flavors with chocolate and it’s very easy to do egg and dairy-free.”
Costigan recommends adding flavor and texture to your vegan chocolate wedding cake by decorating with a rich ganache glaze and garnishing with fresh raspberries.
Red velvet is another classic flavor that can be easily adapted for a vegan diet. To nail the frosting, make sure you choose a good vegan cream cheese alternative, said Lazo.
You should also steer clear of regular red food coloring, according to Lisa Smith, owner of Ginger Bakers in Kendal, northern England. “Many contain carmine (E120), which is not vegetarian or vegan.” Instead, she recommends natural alternatives such as beetroot or paprika.
Lemon is a great natural flavor for a vegan wedding cake. It can also make the sponge more fluffy, according to Mark and Mel Sinjakli, owners of web shop My Baker. “The lemon juice reacts with plant-based milk to effectively create a vegan buttermilk,” they said.
If you’re looking for a lighter taste for a summer wedding, why not try a coconut vegan cake? Coconut cake will bring a fluffy freshness to your big day while also holding up well in warmer temperatures. “Desiccated coconut, some mixed spice and soya milk can make a beautifully balanced coconut cake,” said Fernandez.
Carrot cake is another smart choice for a plant-based alternative. The rich creaminess of almond milk, the texture and flavor of chia seeds, smooth pineapple and zesty oranges can be added to create a flavorsome carrot cake, said Bonita Elms of Bonita Bakes in Bournemouth, southern England.
The slightly unconventional flavor and texture of carrot cake will also make guests less likely to notice that they’re eating a vegan dessert, according to Mark and Mel Sinjakli.