It took 500 eggs and 44 pounds of butter to make the lemon and elderflower cake that was served at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding reception. But it’s a piece of, well, cake to create a royalty-worthy dessert without using so much as one egg, a pat of butter, or anything else that came from an animal.
Baking sans eggs and dairy “products” prevents hens from being confined to tiny wire cages and mother cows from being forcibly impregnated, only for their beloved babies to be torn away from them. It’s better for our health, too: Eating vegan can reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. It’s no wonder that more and more couples are choosing to be sweet to animals and their guests by serving delicious vegan wedding cake.
Vegan baking has gone mainstream, and whether your and your beloved’s hearts are set on a delicate, lighter-than-air confection or a to-die-for rich indulgence, the options are limitless. Your guests probably won’t even be able to tell that the cake they’re enjoying is free of eggs and dairy “products,” so you might want to place a little sign next to it that says, “Vegan – because we love each other and animals!”
If your ceremony is taking place near almost any large city, you’ll be spoiled for choice by all the mouthwatering vegan creations that are available. San Francisco’s Wholesome Bakery whips up gorgeous, one-of-a-kind vegan cakes in flavors including Almond, Dulce de Leche, Lavender, and Turtle. The Cute Little Cake Shop in Cleveland can make your wildest cake dreams come true, with vegan flavors like Cookies & Cream Sundae, Cinnamon Chocolate Churro, Chocolate Strawberry Ganache, Mexican Fried Ice Cream, and more. Miami’s Bunnie Cakes bakes custom vegan creations in an array of varieties, including Red Velvet, Key Lime, and Cinnamon Sugar, to name just a few.
Many smaller bakeries will also gladly fill requests for vegan wedding cakes, even if they aren’t listed on the menu. Call or e-mail the company to inquire – you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised by the helpful and accommodating response that you receive.
If you like to bake – or if you have a friend or family member who’s talented with a piping bag – you can even make your own cake. It’s easy as (vegan) pie to go egg- and dairy-free: Some simple swaps include using two teaspoonfuls of baking soda plus two tablespoonfuls of warm water to replace one egg for leavening (for a light and fluffy final product) or two tablespoonfuls of cornstarch plus two tablespoonfuls of warm water as a binder (for a rich and dense final product). Commercial egg replacers, such as Ener-G Egg Replacer or Follow Your Heart VeganEgg, work wonderfully, too. And since there’s no risk of salmonella from raw eggs, you can go ahead and lick the spoon.
Vegan margarines such as Earth Balance Buttery Spread are a snap to substitute for butter in recipes, and cow’s milk can be replaced, cup for cup, with coconut or soy milk for rich desserts—just choose unsweetened varieties to avoid making the final product too sweet. Most larger and specialty supermarkets also offer vegan cream cheese (try Kite Hill, Daiya, or Tofutti brands), dairy-free chocolate chips, premade vegan frosting, and more.
To ensure that your creation turns out perfectly, it’s a good idea to do a test run ahead of time. (Your family and friends won’t mind helping you make use of the results!) Choosing a vegan recipe from a cookbook or website can also be helpful.
Need some inspiration? Try this recipe for a dairy- and egg-free version of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s spring-inspired wedding cake. Featuring layers of light and fluffy lemon sponge coated with elderflower syrup, finished with rustic lemon and elderflower “buttercream” frosting, and adorned with fresh spring flowers, it’s a cruelty-free masterpiece fit for a royal.
Royal Lemon and Elderflower Cake
22 1/4 cups (2.5 kg) self-rising flour
7 1/2 cups (1.5 kg) superfine sugar
4 Tbsp. baking powder
Zest of 8 lemons
10 1/2 cups (2.5 liters) nondairy milk
4 1/4 cups (1 liter) vegetable oil
3/4 cup + 5 tsp. (200 ml) Elderflower Syrup (recipe below)
• Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and line 6 deep, round cake pans (two 10 inches in diameter, two 8 inches, and two 6 inches).
• Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and lemon zest in a very large bowl.
• Pour in the nondairy milk and oil, stirring until combined.
• Divide the batter among the pans. Tap them on the counter to pop any bubbles, then place in the oven.
• After 45 minutes, remove the 6-inch sponges and insert a toothpick into each. If it comes out clean, allow the sponge to cool. If not, return to the oven and test again every 5 minutes. The larger sponges will take longer to bake (around 1 hour for the 8-inch ones and 1 hour and 15 minutes for the 10-inch ones), but be sure to keep an eye on them, as all ovens are different.
• Once all are baked, use a pastry brush to cover with a generous layer of warm Elderflower Syrup.
• Allow to cool a little in the pans before transferring to a wire rack.
• Make sure that the sponges have cooled completely before attempting to assemble your cake. If you have time, wrap them in plastic and allow to rest overnight.
1 1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) elderflower cordial
• In a saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the cordial and bring to a boil.
• Simmer for a few minutes until slightly thickened, then remove from the heat.
Lemon and Elderflower Curd
3/4 cup (175 ml) lemon juice
5 Tbsp. (75 ml) elderflower cordial
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
1 1/4 cups (250 g) superfine sugar
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. (65 g) cornstarch
2/3 cup (150 ml) soy cream
4 tsp. (20 g) vegan butter
1 pinch salt
• In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, cordial, water, and sugar.
• Place the cornstarch in a small saucepan and stir in the lemon mixture a tablespoonful at a time.
• Bring to a boil. Heat for around 1 minute—it should turn thick and glossy.
• Remove from the heat and stir in the soy cream, vegan butter, and salt. Allow to cool and then refrigerate until needed.
4 1/2 cups (1 kg) vegan butter
17 1/2 cups (2 kg) confectioners’ sugar
6–9 Tbsp. Lemon and Elderflower Curd (recipe above)
• In a very large bowl, beat the vegan butter with an electric mixer to soften.
• Add 9 cups (1 kg) of sugar and mix by hand, then beat with the electric mixer.
• Add the remaining sugar and beat until fluffy. Whisk in the Lemon and Elderflower Curd, 2 tablespoonfuls at a time, being careful not to add too much—you want the frosting to be firm enough to support your cake. If it becomes too soft, add a little more sugar.
2 6-inch, 2 8-inch, and 2 10-inch cake boards
2 6-inch, 2 8-inch, and 2 10-inch Lemon Sponges
1 3/4 cups (400 ml) Elderflower Syrup
3 Tbsp. Lemon and Elderflower Curd
10 cake dowels
• Cut a thin layer off the top, bottom, and sides of each sponge to get rid of any crust and create a flat surface.
• Slice each one widthwise through the center so that you have four even rounds of each size.
• Spread a little frosting over a 6-inch cake board.
• Top with one round of the same size, brush over some Elderflower Syrup, add a thin layer of Lemon and Elderflower Curd, and spread with some frosting. Repeat twice, then place the final 6-inch round on top, cover the stack with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator or freezer to firm up.
• Repeat the two steps above with the 8- and 10-inch cake boards and sponges.
• Once your cake layers are firm, cover the tops with frosting and press a cake board, silver side down, on top. Make sure that the top and bottom boards align. Smooth frosting around the sides of the layers using a scraper or palette knife. Chill again to firm up.
• Run a knife carefully around the cake board “lids” to pop them off. Some frosting may come away – just smooth some more over the top.
• Coat each layer with extra frosting, then run the tip of a palette knife around the sides to create a pretty, rustic effect.
• To prevent any of the layers from collapsing, you’ll need to dowel the 8- and 10-inch ones. Place a 6-inch cake board on the 10-inch layer, use a toothpick to make tiny holes around the circumference, then remove the board. Run a dowel straight down through the center of the layer to the board, mark with a pencil the point where it emerges from the top, remove it, cut it at the mark, and trim three other dowels to the same length. Place one back into the center and insert the others as far apart as possible within the toothpick marks. Repeat for the 8-inch layer.
• Stack your layers and adorn with fresh flowers. Enjoy!
Adapted from a recipe by Maisie Stedman