Join Culinate

With a free Culinate membership, you can:

  • Create your own recipe collections
  • Queue recipes for later use
  • Blog your culinary endeavors
  • Be part of our online community of cooks
  • And much more…
Join Now

Vegan Lemon Layer Cake

From the collection


Because it has three parts — the cake, the filling, and the frosting — this dessert recipe can seem daunting. But, really, everything comes together easily and beautifully, and the results are incredibly light and moist. (They’re also rather sweet, so cut back on the sugar in the frosting if you like.) The recipe makes one 2-layer cake, so if you’re feeling ambitious and want to make a four-layer cake, double everything.



1⅓ cups flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup canola oil
cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup rice milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp. to 1 Tbsp. lemon zest


½ lb. firm tofu (either silken or regular tofu)
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. lemon zest
3 to 4 Tbsp. maple syrup
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla or lemon extract


½ cup non-hydrogenated shortening
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2⅓ cups sifted powdered sugar
3 to 4 tsp. soy or rice milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. (If you want to make extra-sure that the cake layers come out unbroken, cut circles of parchment paper to fit the bottoms of each pan and place the paper in the pans.)
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the canola oil, sugar, rice milk, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk together until combined, then divide the batter between the two pans.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then invert the cake layers onto racks to cool fully.
  4. When the cake is cool, place all the filling ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Spread the filling between the cake layers.
  5. Place all the frosting ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and fluffy. Carefully frost the top and sides of the cake.


The cake recipe is adapted from the Lemon Gem Cupcakes recipe in Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan with a Vengeance. The frosting is a cookie-frosting recipe from a neighbor, who calls it “Snow Frosting.”

This content is from the Zena Chew collection.

There are 8 comments on this item
Add a comment
37% recommend this recipe
1. by TRISTA on May 13, 2009 at 6:22 PM PDT

I made this cake for Mothers’ Day 09. It was d-lish! I added lemon drops around the top edge of the cake for decoration (just before serving because they soon start to melt into the frosting--making a nice gooey treat on leftover pieces). Like you say, it seems daunting, but it was not difficult at all. Very tasty.

2. by Emily Koehler on Oct 1, 2009 at 10:25 AM PDT

any photos? i m thinking of making this for a birthday cake....

3. by anonymous on Oct 23, 2010 at 10:16 PM PDT

I made this tonight and it might taste good but only filled one cake pan. I added 2 tbs of flour and ener-G egg substitute because the batter was really runny. I wonder if it’s the altitude (Denver)? I would have to double the recipe for a layer cake with only 2 layers. It looks like a nice little dessert for 3 people, but I wouldn’t go through the trouble of making a dessert that small unless the oven was already on for some other recipes.

4. by Caroline Cummins on Nov 2, 2010 at 3:10 PM PDT

Anonymous -- Since Denver is over 5,000 feet above sea level, you’ll need to make adjustments to any cake recipe you try. It sounds like your batter lost its leavening power (a common problem at high altitude).

At sea level, at least, the batter is supposed to be rather runny -- the resulting cake is very moist. If you like thick layers in your layer cakes, double the recipe, cut back on the leavening a bit, raise your oven temperature, and check for doneness earlier.

5. by andrea, fka anonymous on Nov 3, 2010 at 10:03 AM PDT

Update on this - I didn’t let it cook all the way! I think it would have been fine if I had left it in for 20 more minutes and checked its temperature in the middle. I will have to try this again when there’s another excuse to make a cake.

6. by andrea, fka anonymous on Nov 3, 2010 at 10:05 AM PDT

.oops, I just said “left it in for 20 more minutes...” and what I meant was I should have raised the temp 20 degrees. Very different concept. Think I need more sleep.

7. by debra daniels-zeller on Nov 7, 2010 at 7:59 PM PST

Oh my, I can’t wait to try this dessert. It sounds heavenly!

8. by Lindsey on Apr 5, 2012 at 1:18 PM PDT

Grease your pans with vegitable shortening then dust the pans with a light layer of flour. You will get perfect cakes if you adiquitely cover the pans with the shortening and flour. It’s a bit messy but it works. Also let your cakes cool in the pan for about 10-20 min before dumping them on a cooling rack. I’ll try this recipie for my birthday, I’m lactose intollerant and have irritable bowel syndrome.

Add a comment

Think before you type

Culinate welcomes comments that are on-topic, clean, and courteous. For the benefit of the community we reserve the right to delete comments that contain advertising, personal attacks, profanity, or which are thinly disguised attempts to promote another website.

Please enter your comment

Format: Bare URLs are automatically linked; use this style: [ "place text to be linked here"] for prettier links. You may specify *bold* or _italic_ text. No HTML please.

Please identify yourself

Not a member? Sign up!

Please prove that you’re not a computer

Dinner Guest

The gamification of cooking

Earning points

Most of the time with cooking and eating, the rules are clear.

Graze: Bites from the Site
First Person

The secret sharer

A father’s legacy

The Culinate Interview

Mollie Katzen

The vegetarian-cooking pioneer


Down South

Barbecue, tamales, cocktails, and more

Local Flavors

A winter romesco sauce

Good on everything

Editor’s Choice