This vegan layered vegan pumpkin cake is perfectly paired with a delicious vegan vanilla cinnamon cream cheese frosting! It’s the perfect fall dessert!
At least once during pumpkin season, you have to make pumpkin cake. More specifically, this layered vegan pumpkin cake with vanilla cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
Cake makes everything better whether it’s a special occasion or not.
If you’ve never made a pumpkin cake with a cream cheese frosting then you are in for a real treat. Everyone things cream cheese frosting with red velvet cake, but we’re here to tell you that you must try this cake with it!
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WHAT INGREDIENTS DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THE BEST LAYERED VEGAN PUMPKIN CAKE?
Below are notes about the main ingredients before we get into the full recipe located lower in this post on how to make vegan pumpkin cake:
While this dairy free pumpkin cake does need what seems to be a lot of ingredients, it’s still an easy vegan pumpkin cake recipe. In order to make this cake without eggs and without dairy, you need a bit of creativity and chemistry. The end result is so perfect. For this cake you’ll need:
- Pumpkin Puree – We are using canned, but you can make your own from a pie pumpkin. Do not use pumpkin pie filling as it is already spiced and we are going to be adding our own.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice – This unique blend is what most people associate with pumpkin flavor. It is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ginger.
- Dairy Free Milk – Using milk instead of water adds more flavor into the recipe. We have tried this with both oat and almond and there’s not much of a difference honestly. Use either unsweetened plain or unsweetened vanilla flavored milk, but you don’t want any sweetened milk in this already sweet recipe.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Since there are no vegan buttermilks on the market, we use acid to mix with the dairy free milk to make a vegan buttermilk. Acid helps tenderize gluten and therefore making a softer cake.
- Flour – We wanted this recipe to be easy and accessible so we stuck with an all-purpose flour for this recipe
- Vegan Cane Sugar – Cane sugar is what we are using. If you want to learn more about why your sugar may not be vegan, you can learn more by clicking on the link. We also use vegan brown sugar in the recipe for the perfect balance of sweetness and moistness.
- Applesauce– This replaces the traditional eggs added but also helps the moisture in your cake but also helps by slowing down the formation of gluten that yields a very tender and fluffy cake – isn’t that what we all want!
- Vegan Cream Cheese – We use vegan cream cheese in the frosting. We love Wayfare, but check out our vegan cream cheese taste test for yourself.
SUBSTITUTIONS AND VARIATIONS:
- Dairy Free Milk – Any dairy free milk that you like can be used in this. The important thing is just not using a sweetened milk in this already sweet recipe.
- Acid – You can use white vinegar or lemon juice if that’s all you have
- Flour – Cake flour could be swapped for all or half of the all-purpose flour. Also an all-purpose or 1:1 gluten free flour could be used.
- Vegan Cane Sugar – While we haven’t tried, you could replace this with a coconut sugar or date sugar
- Optional: we covered in dried raspberries for a look but also because it goes so well with the cake
Tips for how to make the best vegan pumpkin cake:
See below tips and tricks for making this layered vegan pumpkin cake perfect!
- Follow the instructions pretty please. Cake baking is a science, especially when making a dairy free/vegan cake. Every step has a purpose to ensure the perfect vegan chocolate cake.
- While we don’t do it in the recipe, if you are not comfortable baking, we highly recommend sifting the ingredients into the bowl. This loosens the ingredients and make sure there are no clumps leading to a more airy cake.
- Make sure to line with parchment paper and grease your pans. No one likes a cake that can’t come out of the pan. It’s one of the most frustrating things and doing these two things will helps.
- Make sure that you evenly distribute the cake batter into the cake pans. You can use a scale to make sure that they are all within a small range of each other.
- When the cakes are cooked, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to allow the cakes to cool evenly.
- Let the cakes cool to touch. DO NOT RUSH. Let it cool completely.
- When ready to make the cake – use a cake leveling tool to make sure there’s no uneven tops.
- Place a small amount of frosting down first on a rotating cake stand, then your first layer. The frosting acts as a glue so the cake won’t slip.
- Use a piping bag and a large round tip and pipe frosting in a circular motion from the outer edge completely in to the middle.
- Use a cake spreader to gently even out layer of frosting. Place next layer and repeat. Step back and see if there is any gaps in between the layers. If there are, place enough frosting in those areas to get frosting to the edge.
- Use a cake scraper to go around the cake and ensure evenness around the entire cake. This step is really important. Place frosting on the top of the cake and more on sides if needed and frost evenly. Using a spreader on the top and the scraper to even evenness.
- Get creative. If you can’t get as smooth as you want or even as you want – you can also add toppings like dried fruit, crushed nuts or chocolate shavings, or drizzle chocolate syrup along the edge so people focus on that. Plus it looks better either way.
- *Bonus Tip: If you want to frosting the cake but keep a clean cake stand, cut four 7″ pieces of wax paper and overlap them before placing the first layer on the cake stand. When you are completely done frosting the cake, carefully remove the four pieces of wax paper.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Absolutely! Did I just make your day? You can swap out the vegan all-purpose flour for Gluten Free Cup for Cup flour. You can also swap out the cake flour with a gluten free version.
Absolutely! Did I just make your day again? You can swap out the vegan all-purpose flour for Gluten Free Cup for Cup flour. You can also swap out the cake flour with a gluten free version. For butter, you want to use a soy free version like Flora or Earth Balance soy free. Lastly, check out our vegan cream cheese review to find one that is safe for you.
The right amount of fat (oil) combined with dairy free milk and adding in leavening agents (baking soda) all act together to insure this will not be a dry vegan pumpkin cake.
Also, the importance of minimally processing the ingredients together. We only mix until combined. We do this because the longer you mix flour, the more gluten forms making for a not so great cake.
You can absolutely make this into dairy free red pumpkin cupcakes. Simply make the recipe as normal and then instead of greasing cake pans, spray a cupcake pan or liners. Fill each one up ¾ of the way. You’ll want to reduce the cooking time to 15-20 minutes.
A vegan pumpkin cake is better for animals and the environment; however, we still use flour, sugar, and oil in this recipe. We are not claiming that this is a healthier alternative to a cake that contains dairy based milk and traditional eggs.
We’ll let you in on a little secret. You can’t even tell the difference. In fact, we’ve served vegan cake to many non-vegans and they had no idea!
By adding some acid to your batter, you are creating a vegan cake that is moist and delicious. It helps to break down the tough gluten strands, yielding in the most delicious layered vegan pumpkin cake recipe. Don’t skip this step!
What if I only want a 1 layer vegan pumpkin cake?
We know that not everyone has the desire to make a layered cake. Fortunately, we have great news! You don’t have too and we have two options for you!
First – you can make the recipe as directed and then freeze two layers so you have a cake already ready the next time you want cake. We’d recommend eating within 3 months of freezing. To do this, when the cakes are cooled to touch but still slightly warm, remove from the pans and wrap them with plastic wrap. Wrapping them while warm allows the moisture to continue to stay inside the cake and not be dry. Place in a freezer safe container or bag after wrapping in foil.
Alternatively, you could just reduce all the ingredients to only make one layer.
Can I make this a sheet pan cake instead?
Yes! You can use a 9×13 cake pan in order to make this cake. The batter should work well to fill the cake pan but keep in mind that you should not fill the cake more than ¾ way full. If you have too much you can use for mini cupcakes!
What other frosting ideas could I use on this layered vegan pumpkin cake?
We highly recommend use our vegan cream cheese frosting recipe below; however, we know that some people want other options. Other ideas for how to frosting a dairy free pumpkin cake are:
- Vegan Chocolate Frosting
- Using Dairy Free Whipped Topping (Homemade “Cool Whip”)
- Vegan Vanilla Frosting
- Vegan Strawberry Frosting
- Vegan Buttercream Frosting
What are other vegan pumpkin recipes I can make?
If you love pumpkin recipes, we hope that you absolutely love even more! Here’s even more vegan pumpkin recipes:
- No Bake Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake
- No Yeast Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
- Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Babka
- Vegan Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
- Vegan Pumpkin Cookies
Get even more vegan pumpkin recipes!
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Layered Vegan Pumpkin Cake
Vegan Pumpkin Cake Batter
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup vegan sugar
- 15 oz can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- ¾ cup non-dairy milk
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
For the Cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 3, 8-inch round cake pans. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, add flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together.
- In a separate large bowl, cream together softened butter and both sugars until fluffy about 3-4 minutes.
- Add in the pumpkin, applesauce, non-dairy milk, oil, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined (ingredients may curdled, which is ok).
- Add in the flour in 2 parts mixing after each, being careful not to over mix.
- Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Weigh on scale for accuracy if needed.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove pans from oven and let cool. Let them cool completely before frosting.
For the Frosting
- In a large bowl cream together vegan cream cheese and vegan butter.
- Add maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon. Beat again until combined. Then, add powdered sugar gradually until completely combined.
- Now check the consistency of the frosting. If it’s too dry, add a tablespoon at a time more dairy free milk until it reaches your desired consistency. If it’s too wet, add a tablespoon more powered sugar at a time until it reaches the right consistency to hold its shape.
- Frosting cake once cooled.