This classic birthday cake is a kid’s dream. It is sweet, moist, light, fluffy and is sure to impress both kids and adults at any party. Both vegan and gluten-free so anybody can enjoy it!
For the Cake:
1 1/2 cups (168g) blanched almond flour (See below NOTE)
1 1/2 cups (240g) white rice flour, I use Bob's Red Mill (brown rice flour does not work here, the white is crucial for structure and taste)
3/4 cup (120g) potato starch, not potato flour
4 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups (400g) pure maple syrup
1 1/4 cups (300g) canned "lite" coconut milk, shaken first (highly recommend Thai Kitchen for best results, it's 100% creamy and never chunky)
2 tablespoons (30g) vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (80g) vegan sprinkles
VANILLA BUTTERCREAM (This has a slight coconut taste. Use my regular buttercream below if you want it traditional.):
2 cups (460g) melted liquid coconut butter (this is simply pureed coconut)I highly recommend buying this instead of making your own, as it is much smoother. I recommend Maranatha brand or Dastony from Whole Foods. Make sure the only ingredient is coconut.
1 cup (240g) plant milk (I used "lite" coconut milk)
1 cup (320g) pure grade A maple syrup (grade B will make the frosting darker)
6 tablespoons (96g) RAW cashew butter (NO added oil)
8 tablespoons (60g) vegan powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla powder (I use this white powder instead of extract to keep the frosting whiter.)
Use this frosting if you prefer a traditional style buttercream
NOTE: Always use a scale for accuracy when baking, following MY gram weights listed. You never need cups, just the scale and bowl and make sure to zero out in between each ingredient. I use this scale.
This cake is best made the day of the party so it is moist and has the best structure, but will still be delicious if made the night before, just leave covered well at room temperature. The frosting can be made the day before, just remove it from the fridge an hour or so before needing to frost the cake.
Preheat your oven to 350°F and lightly spray two 8 inch round cake pans (with 2 inch tall sides) and line with a round piece of parchment paper just on the bottoms. I used coconut oil nonstick spray. OR, to make as cupcakes, line 20 paper liners in a muffin pan.
To a very large bowl, weigh each flour (zeroing out in between) and add to the bowl the almond flour, rice flour and potato starch. If you absolutely must use measuring cups, scoop the flours out with the cup and lightly pat down each flour making sure there are no gaps, then level off. Add the baking powder and salt and whisk really well.
To the same bowl, add the syrup, milk and vanilla. Whisk again for at least a minute until it becomes completely smooth and thickens a bit. It is a thin batter, not a thick one. Stir in the sprinkles. Pour the batter evenly among the 2 pans. Give it a jiggle to smooth out.
Bake both cakes on the same rack with a couple inches in between them for best results for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out totally clean. For cupcakes, they are done in 20-22 minutes. You don't want any wet batter. Should be clean, a couple of DRY crumbs are ok. Leave in the pan for 30 minutes (10 for cupcakes), no exceptions, or it can crack if removed too early. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cooling rack and invert it over the cake pan and flip the cake over and release. Leave to fully cool 1 hour.
FOR THE FROSTING:
Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature. Otherwise, the coconut butter can harden if your other ingredients are cold. If your coconut butter is hardened, melt it to a complete runny liquid, like an oil consistency. Heat it in the microwave for 15-30 seconds and stir to get it thoroughly mixed and smooth, be very careful not to burn it.
Add it to the food processor and quickly add the remaining ingredients. Process until completely smooth. It will be VERY runny at this step, but will firm up in the freezer. Pour into a bowl and place in the freezer for 20-30 mins until it's firm enough to whip.
If it gets too hard, just let it sit at room temperature until it softens back up. Whip just a few minutes until fluffy. Spread a thick layer onto the top of the bottom cake, place the next cake on top. The best way to frost a cake is to add a super thin layer on the top and sides and smooth it out (a crumb coat). It doesn't need to be perfect, just a thin layer to seal crumbs. Place in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes. This will make frosting the cake much easier.
Add a bunch of frosting on the top of the cake and begin to spread it out to the edges, letting it slightly hang over the edges and then apply thick layers to the sides, adding more as needed onto the sides to fully and evenly cover the cake. Once you are ready to smooth the sides, it is best to go into one continuous direction, spinning your cake stand around as you gently drag the icing spatula along. Or, if you have a bench scraper, this will make a much smoother edge. Don't drag it back and forth or it will create a mess. Once you've iced the whole cake, if you drag the edge of the icing spatula (or bench scraper) very gently across the top, starting from the edges and working towards the center and repeating, you can create a smooth top. Wipe off the spatula often in between smoothing strokes, to keep a smooth layer. This will take practice to get it right. Use the spatula to scrape off any messy parts on the cake stand.
It's crucial to use a superfine blanched almond flour because it is what makes the cake so moist and light and fluffy. I do not have luck with Bob's Red Mill, but love King Arthur, Honeyville, Wellbees, Nature's Eats, Heb brand (in TX) all work well.