Vanilla Orange Birthday Cake (Vegan)

November 23, 2015

It's my birthday! I'm 24 this year, and feeling pretty good about it. Some of you might remember my birthday cake from last year (a bitchin carrot cake that you should also make), and I think this is going to be a tradition here. I've posted seven recipes since starting this blog that are some kind of cake, so I guess that's sort of indicative of what I like. I like cake.

A lot has changed since my past birthday, especially on this blog. In November 2014, I had 885 hits on here for the whole month. So far this month I've had about 25 000, and it just keeps growing. I'm so happy that there are people out there who like what I'm doing, and really hope that I'm helping inspire all of you to love healthy food. I've put a buttload of work into trying to improve my pictures, too, which is super fun and awesome. If you check out last year's recipe, it's easy to see a change. I'm not sure if I want you to go look at it. The cake is good, though, I swear! This recipe is quite a bit simpler, but also good.

Graham just came running in here and told me he just about destroyed the cake (which I probably shouldn't have left balanced on my jar-pantry-cart-thing). He said, "I put my hand right on the middle of one to keep from falling, but it bounced right back. It's a good sponge!" so you know that it's helping to keep your family safe, too, and that's something to think about. This cake may prevent injuries in your home. Graham squeezed most of the oranges for the cake too, after I got grumpy about it. Three cups of fresh orange juice is a ridiculous amount of work when your only tool is your hands. Ridiculous.

The cake is similar to what I think of as traditional cake flavours, lemon and vanilla. I've been eating oranges like crazy lately, so subbing them for lemons seemed like the right thing to do. The vanilla is quite strong, and since the icing is orange vanilla too, you'll definitely be tasting it. There's a raspberry filling between layers, too, which goes nicely with everything else. The topping is simple macerated orange slices. If you hate oranges, try another citrus fruit. If you hate vanilla, replace it with cinnamon. If you hate both, there's nothing I can do for you, you heathen.

Remember that this recipe fills two cake pans to make a tall layer cake, and the ingredients reflect that. There might seem like a lot of steps, but it really doesn't take too long to make all the different elements. It's quite a bit of honey no matter how you look at it, but remember that this is a cake, and you're not eating it all day every day.

Makes two 9-inch cakes.*

3 cups kamut flour
2 cups einkorn flour*
5 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon vanilla powder*
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups honey or maple syrup
3 cups orange juice*
1 cup grape seed oil*
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Zest of 4 oranges

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch springform pans.

Sift the flours, baking powder and soda, vanilla, and salt into a large bowl. Sifting them helps keep everything light.

In a medium bowl, whisk the honey, orange juice, oil, vanilla, and orange zest. Add this into the dry ingredients, and whisk them together until just combined. Avoid over mixing.

Pour even amounts of the batter into the prepared pans, and bake for 55-60 minutes. Resist the urge to open the oven to peek while they're baking, especially for the first 40 minutes or so. Test them with a toothpick to make sure they're done before taking them out of the oven.

Cool for about 15 minutes before removing the sides of the pans. Cool completely before icing. This takes several hours, so prepare in advance. I made the cakes the night in advance, then brushed them with a little bit of the macerating syrup from the oranges for the topping to keep them from drying out overnight. Doing that makes them extra scrummy, too.

To assemble, cut each cake in half, making four layers. Layer cake on the bottom, followed by a third of the cream, then cake, then all of the raspberry filling, then cake, then another third of the cream, then cake, and top with the remaining cream and the macerated oranges. I added some extra vanilla powder and a sprinkle of bee pollen over my cake.

3 cans coconut milk, chilled overnight
2 tablespoons honey
Zest of 2 oranges
1 teaspoon vanilla powder

Whip the creamy part from the coconut milk with the honey, orange zest, and vanilla. You can peek at the instructions in this recipe if you haven't make coconut whipped cream before.

Orange Topping:
2 oranges, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Place the oranges, honey, and cinnamon in a covered dish and let them sit for about an hour, or overnight. This is maceration, which helps to sweeten and soften the oranges.

Raspberry Filling:
2 cups frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon honey

Gently cook the raspberries with the honey over low heat until just simmering. Remove from the heat and cool completely before adding to the cake.

1. Cut the recipe in half if you don't want a layer cake. It's makes quite a large cake this way, so plan on feeding a few people with it.
2. If you don't eat honey, substitute maple syrup.
3. You can use all kamut, einkorn, spelt, or plain white flour here instead of the combination. I love the softness of the einkorn with the slightly coarser texture of kamut, but they're both quite light.
4. If you don't have vanilla powder, just use some extra extract instead.
5. Try to find orange juice not from concentrate. Apparently that's not a thing at our neighbourhood supermarket, so we squeezed about a million oranges instead.
6. Any light tasting oil can be used instead of grape seed, but try to avoid oils that are solid at room temperature, like coconut.
7. Thanks to my brother in law for holding that giant piece of cake while I took pictures. He ate the whole piece, then polished of my sister's, too.

8 comments on "Vanilla Orange Birthday Cake (Vegan)"
  1. Soo pretty! Love that black background and happy slightly belated birthday Alexandra!!

  2. I just put the cake in the oven! It has a beautiful citrus taste (I hand squeezed blood oranges, and navel oranges for the juice.)When I tasted the batter, I noticed a very strong baking soda/powder taste. Is that normal? Thank you so much for your beautiful recipe collection. So much class and creativity! Love Atlin Zahnow

    1. Woohoo! It can taste pretty strong in the raw batter but it should be good once it's baked - did you have to same flavour in the end result? It can differ between rising agents too.

  3. The cake turned out perfectly. I tasted a bit of the plain cake and it had the most slightest baking powder taste. Once I put the frosting on there was no taste what so ever! Thank you!

    1. Happy to hear it! I know some people are more sensitive to the taste of baking powder than I seem to be but I'm happy it turned out well in the end :)