This moist but fluffy vegan orange cake tastes just like a creamsicle and is a beautiful orange hue!
When I created my bakery-style vegan white cake recipe, I long knew that I wanted to use it as a canvas for other cake flavors. (Once I’ve created enough variety I am planning to start selling these local to the Baltimore area!).
It turns out that making an orange flavored cake is extremely easy. Because oranges are both super fibrous and super watery, adding a whole orange to a sponge cake is not necessarily a great idea.
Orange extract (available in most grocery stores) does the trick, along with fresh orange zest added to the batter and a (small!) amount of orange juice added to the wet ingredients.
Of course, that’s not enough to produce the beautiful color you see in the pictured cake; I used natural orange food coloring to dye this creamsicle-inspired beauty. You could also color the batter with turmeric and saffron for something even more minimalist.
This vegan orange cake doesn’t contain any cream, but I did use clear imitation butter flavor to add a buttery note. If you don’t want to track down that ingredient, no problem – just skip it or add some vanilla extract for an equally delicious orange cake!
Longtime readers know that I don’t really f$#%! with frosting, so that’s store-bought too. I said this vegan creamsicle cake was tasty, I never said it was healthy or even very natural. It is, however, made from scratch, superbly vegan, dairy-free, and egg-free; and a people-pleasing cake! It even got 5 stars from a random auditor who was conducting business at my office and helped himself to a slice. Hah.
Vegan orange cake decoration and filling ideas
We mixed extra orange food dye into some of our plain white frosting to produce this ombre cake look. If you want to get fancier, some candied orange zest would be lovely here. Or, you could made little royal icing orange slices similar to the carrots that we used to decorate my vegan carrot cake.
Orange marmalade sandwiched between the layers of this cake would really put the icing on the cake (groan) of this vegan orange cake experience! If you do use marmalade, orange curd, or any other “wet” filling, please be sure to add a thin layer of frosting first as a barrier, and allow it to set before adding the jam, etc. This cake is super delicate and may crumble if coming into contact with moisture.
The method for making this vegan creamsicle cake is very similar to my classic vegan cake; please refer to that recipe for a thoroughly excessive amount of food science, tips and tricks, and a video of the mixing method.
Creamsicle-Inspired Vegan Orange Cake
- 78 grams aquafaba room temperature (6 tbsp) (see note)
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 and 3/4 cups plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk room temperature (soy recommended)
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 tsp white vinegar
- 2 tsp orange extract
- 2 tsp clear imitation butter flavor
- 324 grams cake flour (This can NOT be substituted with regular flour. Seriously, don't waste your time)
- 36 grams potato starch
- 324 grams white sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 138 grams vegetable oil (not coconut oil)
- 48 grams vegetable shortening
- 1 tsp orange zest
- Before starting, make sure all of your ingredients for this vegan orange cake are at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
- In a small bowl, whisk or whip together the aquafaba and cream of tartar vigorously until the aquafaba is fluffy and foamy (soft peaks are ideal), and set aside.
- In another small bowl, stir together the soy milk, orange juice, 2 tsp vinegar, orange extract, and butter flavor, and set aside. The soy milk will curdle a little bit; this is normal.
- Sift all of the dry ingredients (including the sugar) into a mixing bowl and stir well, sifting a second time if the mixture still appears lumpy. Don't skip this step - sifting is important!
- Add the vegetable oil and shortening into the bowl. Using a mixer or a strong utensil, mix everything together well until it starts to resemble wet sand. Make sure to scrape around the bottom of your mixing bowl to get rid of flour pockets hiding out there. Continue until fully smooth.
- Add 1/3 of the wet ingredients to the bowl and mix until combined. Add another 2/3 and repeat. Finally, add the remaining 1/3 and mix until the batter is very smooth and runny, which will take a minute or two.
- Whisk the foamy aquafaba mixture into the cake batter until mixed in evenly (if you only fold it in, you might get streaks or a gummy layer - mix well if needed). Divide the cake batter between your two cake pans.
- Bake the orange cake layers for approximately 24-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and dry. Be sure not to open the oven door at all until at least 20 minutes have passed.
- Let the cakes cool in their pans on top of a cooling rack for about 10 minutes. You can then run a sharp knife around the edges of the pans before very gently inverting the cakes to cool completely. I recommend lightly flouring or spraying your cooling rack before flipping the cakes onto it; they are very moist and have a tendency to stick. After flipping them over, gently peel off the parchment paper.
- These cakes can be layered and frosted once completely cooled (and the layers can be gently evened out if needed, although they tend to bake pretty flat). Take care in handling them; they are rather delicate. Leftover cake can be stored covered in the fridge for a couple of days. If your layer cake is fully frosted it can also be stored covered at room temperature. If stored in the fridge, it's recommended to bring it to room temperature before slicing, to reduce crumbliness.
We made this and LOVED it!! After trying a “use a whole orange” cake that didn’t much taste like orange, my expectations were low. On the contrary, this was a hit with my whole household (vegans and non-vegans) and I plan to make it again this weekend as cupcakes. I do have to note that I didn’t bother buying imitation butter flavor and just subbed vanilla extract like some others suggested. We also skipped the food coloring and still thought it turned out pretty. We used a homemade vegan buttercream frosting that went perfect with it.
Oh, and despite my complaints, we did sift =D
Thank you for this great and detailed recipe!!
Shannon @ Yup, it's Vegan says
Yay, I’m so glad! Sifting is 100% worth it despite the struggle lol. I actually just remade this cake two weeks ago for my boyfriend’s birthday and the nonvegans loved it at his party too. Great minds think alike 😀
Hey there! I’m going to attempt this cake for a friend’s upcoming bday and had a couple of quick questions.
1- Can I sub corn starch for the potato starch?
2- In the instructions, there is one mention at the end about peeling parchment paper off the cake while it cools, but further up in the instructions, it just says to grease and flour the cake pans. Can you clarify if parchment is needed in addition to greasing/flouring the pans? The recipe is really precise (which I appreciate!) and I don’t want to screw it up!
Replying to my own comment to say that I made the cake last weekend, and it turned out fantastic! I did use corn starch in place of the potato starch, and it worked just fine. I oiled & floured the pans (no parchment paper), and the cakes did not stick to the pan and came right out after they were allowed to cool for a little while. I also subbed vanilla extract in place of the imitation butter flavoring, Frosted it with a simple vanilla vegan buttercream, and everyone loved it. Great recipe!
Joshua Howard says
This looks fantastic.. I love orange cakes. Thank you for sharing the recipe!
A GROSS says
WHY DO YOU COMBINE METRIC WITH NON METRIC MOST CONFUSING. I’M NOT MAKING IT CAUSE I DON’T WANT TO CONVERT….PICK ONE SMILE. FOR USA WE NEED CUPS.
Shannon @ Yup, it's Vegan says
I’ve explained many times why I use gram measurements for the dry ingredients of delicate baked goods like sponge cakes. Sorry to hear that you’ve decided not to make it. Take care.
Just look it up. I can see you have access to the internet. Also, grams are more accurate. You sound like such an entitled American.
Lynn Babcock says
I am American and I love recipes that give measurements so exactly, especially when baking. Shannon and many other top bakers have posted extensively on why weighing is far superior to volume measuring. With my inexpensive kitchen scale, I simply tap a button to convert to metric. (I wish we would join the rest of the world in the much more efficient metric system!) Read the post for Shannon’s Bakery-Style Vegan White Cake to see how much effort she puts into her research and recipe development. Shannon does all the trial & error so that we don’t have to! I’m so thankful I found this treasure of a resource!
You picked up the title very accurately, this orange pie is really a dreamy dream. I just had one delicious photo to save this recipe and plan to prepare it for the coming weekend. I’m already anticipating how I will feast on a large slice of this cake in the company of a large mug of my favorite herbal tea. By the way, this cake reminded me of a carrot cake, in which oranges are also added, and it has the same orange color :))) This is an incredible yummy. Thank you for the recipe!