Perfect vegan sponge cake


Sometime back good friend Sweatha, mailed me asking whether I had a vegan sponge cake recipe.  At that time, I did not, because I was busy masking my cakes with flavours of fruits, cocoa, and cognac, all of which were great, but I did not strive to make a vegan sponge cake. I decided then that I would develop a good recipe, but forgot about it as usual!  A couple of days ago, the gong sounded again.  This time, it was a vegan friend, Sonal who belled all vegan bakers for a vegan, sponge cake recipe.  A few links were given, but she was not satisfied.  Now here was a girl in search of cake manna, and my flavoured cakes would just not do!  I am glad she challenged me, for I have noticed that the best way to make me do something is to force me into doing it.  And so began the search for the ‘perfect’ sponge cakes.

I went back to my holy grail, the book that taught me everything I know about baking – Making Classic Cakes by Sarah Maxwell & Angela Nilsen.  I have tried most recipes in this book when I was not vegan, and repeated many after I became vegan, veganizing them and always finding that none of the recipes ever disappointed me.  The recipes are few, but they are perfect.  A great book for beginners and a wonderful book if you like icing and decorating.  I unfortunately do not have an inclination for the latter, or probably the expertise.

Yesterday, I made a version that called for easily available, local ingredients.  The cake was great, but more a madeira cake and less a sponge cake.  The taste was great and it was perfect to be sliced, iced and decorated.  It did not collapse, or break, or get stuck to my tin.  It was firm, but a tad firmer than the softest sponge cakes I have eaten.  I sent it to Sonal, but this morning I set out again, a slightly modified recipe, more changes, and voila – I got what I wanted.  It was the best sponge cake I have eaten.  It was like my favourite sponge cake – the one you get at Bangalore Iyengar’s Bakeries.  Yep!  They still sell the best sponge cakes.  Only I wish they would get rid of the synthetic vanilla, the butter and the milk.

I do not generally make cakes with all purpose flour/maida/refined flour as they are so refined that they do not have any nutrition, and because the daughter is gluten intolerant.  But I made this one as a once-in-a-while treat. It is also great for special occasions.  I have been very meticulous in recording the measurements, weighing each ingredient, but please use this as an estimate.  Please note that the cups I use for measuring are Indian cups which hold less than American measuring cups.

The daughter could not eat the cake but she held it, pressed gently and loved it, and decided that her friends could have it, if not she. Jr.P and my nephew N, were here and N told me it was very good.  N is a very appreciative lad.  Jr.P said nothing – he was busy eating!  My husband’s feedback is always partial so it does not count when I want to give you an honest feedback.

This had a nice brown crust, soft interiors, fine crumbs and dotted holes and they can take up any syrup you might like to use.  It can be used as a base for orange / pineapple / kiwi or any other fruit filled cakes.  It will hold icing well, is soft, but firm enough to hold its shape and comes out clean without breaking or getting stuck.  However, I could not prevent the cracks. Probably I should have had height on the rims. Anyway, it is a sturdy cake and can be levelled easily.

As with all baking recipes please adjust your oven temperature if browning occurs quickly and the timing as needed.  Rotate half way through if your oven has burn spots, but not before the cake is risen and half done.

This cake contains egg replacer, corn syrup and mirin, all available in most branches of Godrej Nature’s Basket in Mumbai, and in many specialty stores.

Recipe: Vegan sponge cake
Yield: About 750g.
Source: Adapted from ‘quick-mix sponge cake’ that appears in page 83 of the book ‘Making classic cakes’
Oven temperature : 160 deg. Celsius with fan
Tin: Square 8″ tin, greased and dusted


Maida / Refined flour / All purpose flour – 2 cups – 247g
Macadamia nuts, ground – 1/2 cup – 65g approx.
Baking powder – 2.5 tsp.
Cashew yogurt – 1 cup
Pure Olive oil – 1/2 cup – 75g
Corn syrup – 2 tsp.
Mirin (Japanese rice vinegar) – 1 tsp.
Orgran egg replacer – 3 tbsp.
Vanilla pods – 2, slit and seeded
Caster sugar – 3/4 cup – 152g
Plain water – 2 – 3 tbsps. if needed


Pre-heat oven.

Place the flour, ground macadamia nuts, and baking powder together in a blender.  Blitz well till uniformly mixed.  This helps aerate and distribute the baking powder evenly.  Empty into a wide mixing bowl.

Pour the cashew curd, oil, corn syrup, mirin, sugar and egg replacer along with the vanilla seeds in the blender.  Blitz to form an emulsion.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients and beat well for two minutes till the ingredients are well incorporated.  The beating is easy and does not require much speed.  I used a wooden ladle.  Do not beat hard or too much as the cake will turn rubbery. If it is stiff add plain water, a table spoon at  a time till the mixture is easy to beat but not runny. The mixture needs to remain thick and is not exactly of pouring consistency.

Empty into the prepared tin evenly, and using fingers, that have been wet in water, gently push the mixture to the corners and even out the top.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes at 160 deg. C. with fan.  Check half way through for burn spots and rotate the pan if needed.  I always do this as my cakes do not come out uniformly done otherwise.  When done, the cake will pull away from the sides of the pan slightly and will be brown on top.  A clean skewer inserted in the center should come out clean.  The cake will feel soft, elastic and bouncy to touch.

Cool for ten to fifteen minutes in the pan before turning it out gently.  Let rest on a rack till completely cool.

We had it plain, so I just cut into slices.  But this cake is perfect for slicing and icing as well.


Harini is a vegan food photographer, writer and recipe developer. She also loves feeding birds, reading, watching crime thrillers, and travelling amongst other things.

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  • saranya

    I’m vegan and looking for perfect vegan recipes without compromising taste.

    Thanks very much for your recipe. We tried out your recipe and it came out perfect. That’s a perfect soft and spongy cake. We had icing on it and it was delicious (exactly like store bought cake). Thank you again..

    • Harini

      Thanks for the feedback, Saranya. I am delighted to know it came out delicious.

  • Wanda

    This looks so amazing! I have been trying to find a good vegan vanilla cake forever, and all the ones that I have made so far have turned out rubbery, so thank you so much for posting this. I will attempt to make this cake with a coconut whipped cream frosting inside. Or perhaps with extra oil to make it suitable for an ice cream cake!

    • Harini

      I am curious about your version as I am not good with frosting, as well as the ice cream cake! Would love to know when you make it. 🙂

  • jammed-thoughts

    Just made this the other day and it was fantastic! Did 2.5 tsp of flax plus .5 tsp cornstarch mixed with 3 tbsp water instead of the egg replacer, and added some spices to the flour. I love that this cake isn’t overpowering in its sweetness. Mine came out a tad firm but that’s probably because i omitted the nuts and mixed it a touch too much, but it’s still delicious!

    • Harini

      Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the feedback. Even a tablespoon of nuts makes a world of difference.

  • jen

    this looks amazing! I’m going to pick up egg replacer and try this in the next week!

    • Harini

      Great! Please let me know how it turns out.:)

  • Sonal

    Well for yest’s potluck I took my ‘so far never failed me as a cook’ (!!!) chocolate cake; but yes, u’r sponge cake recipe is certainly gonna be executed soon.Any difference plz. b/w cornstarch and cornflour?

    • Harini

      Ha ha! Understandable, Sonal! It is difficult to risk a new recipe when you are having guests over. Maybe you should try the sponge cake when you want to bake something for the family. There is no difference between corn starch and corn flour. If you have custard powder you can use that instead of cornflour but the colour will be visible!

  • Sonal

    Thankfully time is coming closer for me to try out u’r sponge cake!Yup,’ve taken long .
    ‘dont ‘ve many ingredients with me!
    Corn syrup- dont’ve. Cant I increase the amount of demerara sugar instead?
    Mirin- whats so special abt. it?’ve apple cider vinegar.
    I even dont have crowns of chillies!Can I set cashew yogurt with some other starter, like a tsp. of soy yogurt?
    Orgran egg replacer- If I dont find it here, then what do I use in how much quantity, plz.?
    I hope u wont find my questions irritating!
    Sonal Vegan

    • Admin

      Hi Sonal, Corn syrup – helps in softening, but I think it is alright if you skip it.
      Mirin – It is rice vinegar, not in anyway different from other vinegars, but milder. You can use apple cider or normal plain vinegar too, in lesser quantity diluting with some water.
      Chilli crowns are the top stems from green/red chillies. I suppose crowns are fancier.:) But yes, you can use any other starter too. I have not tried with soy yogurt but go ahead. If peanut yogurt works, soy yogurt should work too.
      Orgran egg replacer can be substituted by equal ratios of arrowroot powder and corn starch mixed together to form the quantity of egg replacer used in the recipe.

      I actually found your questions stimulating! 🙂 What is the point of creating a recipe if one cannot think beyond ingredients that have been used. Having said that, though it is unlikely, there is always a chance that substitution may not render exactly the same product as the original. Please let me know how it comes out for you. – Hugs, Harini

  • khushi

    lovely spongy cakes…looks just like the store bought ones…..cashew yogurt is something new to me!! that is something I have learnt here 🙂

  • Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal

    Absolutely love this version, using cashew yogurt, wow so inventive 🙂

  • Vaishali

    This looks very spongy and delicious, Harini. And yes, vegan versions of baked recipes usually taste better– I, for one, could never stand that eggy smell.

  • Harini

    Oh yes! I would like to see your version. I am sure its going to be super!

  • Susmitha - Veganosaurus

    Oh goodie! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

    Yeah I was planning to use apple cider vinegar instead of mirin and agave instead of the corn syrup since those are what I have on hand.

    Now the only thing I need to prepare is yogurt and then I’m all set to try out your recipe.

    Will definitely let you know how it turns out. 🙂

  • Harini

    Thank you, Hannah! I wish it was berry season.

    Nishi, thanks.:)

  • Harini

    Susmitha, almonds work really great. I did not blanched, skinned ones so I used macadamia nuts instead. The previous cake I made was with hazelnuts and flax meal. That cake tastes as great but it is slightly more firm – like a madeira cake. I used 20 hazelnuts (almonds are even better) for 1 cup of flour, and 1 heaped tsp. flax meal. The only difference was I warmed the curd+oil+flax meal together lightly before blending. You can use vinegar instead of mirin. Corn syrup makes a difference (softer) but not much.

  • Harini

    Rose, you can skip the nuts. Just add two tablespoons of corn flour to the flour instead. It is just that the nuts ensure a more porous structure in vegan cakes. Fine, dessicated coconut has the same effect but it is not a sponge cake if you can bite into coconut.

  • Nishi

    WOW!!! The cake looks soooo perfect Harini. It’s hard to believe that it is vegan. Amazing!!!!

  • Hannah

    Your cake looks so pillowy soft, what a treat! I can imagine it would pair beautifully with any sort of sauce, ice cream, or berry accompaniment. Gotta love that kind of versatility.

  • Susmitha - Veganosaurus

    That looks simply divine, Harini!!

    Can other nuts be used instead of macadamia? Hazelnut or Walnuts perhaps?

    Also, flax seed powder instead of egg replacer?

  • Rose of Magpies Recipes

    this looks just simply gorgeous Harini! Do you think I can skip the nuts ? any substitute you might know? want to try it for someone who has a nut allergy too.

  • Sharmilee

    Wow luv the texture of the cake…looks too good

  • Desisoccermom

    That sponge cake looks awesome Harini! I am blown away by your ingenuity and creativity. It is not easy to fiddle with baking recipes, let alone veganize them, and come up with a winner. You did it and some more. And the photos do show the spongy texture. They are spot on. 🙂

    • Harini

      Thanks Jaya, for saying so many nice things in one comment.:D I did not bother with styling much as I had to leave for work but I am glad the spongy texture shows.:)

  • Soma

    The cake looks fantastic. I do not care for icing in a cake. I don’t the cracks either. The texture looks perfectly spongy and your photographs show it all. The styling is gorgeous too.. inviting and friendly. love everything about it.. sun or no sun. I wish you could teach me some post processing of photographs.

    • Harini

      Thanks all.

      Soma, I do not do much post processing. But where I realized the contrast was high, I reduced it slightly and adjusted the levels. That is it! I do not know anything beyond that at this point of time. Maybe sometime later I will learn.:)

  • Notyet100

    Ummm I just luv ur clicks,,they look so real 🙂

  • harini-jaya

    Wow!! that’s a beauty!! I can imagine myself making this with some tutti-frutti to make the kind of fruit cake in Iyengar bakery!

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