Famous Eggless Lemon Cake

Eggless Lemon Cake for a boy obsessed with "Yellow Balloons"

Here it is. The famous eggless cake from Ian's first, and now second, birthdays.

Last year, caught up in Pinterest fever for my son's first birthday, I threw him an elaborate themed party. (I swear it's some sort of hard-wired hormonal situation that moms of 23-month-olds simply have no control over). For that party, I felt that I absolutely needed 3 varieties of cupcakes - all eggless, as appropriate for vegetarian family members. Only the best eggless cake would do. I tried mixes, and even bought some from a vegan bakery, but was driven to concoct a from-scratch recipe that I fine-tuned over the course of a few weeks. Cake flour made dense cake, egg replacer powder made dense cake, soda gave it a chemical taste, and so on. We had a lot of cake last October, and we don't even like cake that much, ourselves. I'm also a notoriously lousy baker.

Oh look, we were a little obsessed with Brown Bear and making things cute.... Pinterest accidentally threw up in my house... (FYI this is just one station... there was one for each character... who was I a year ago and where did I find the time???)

So, being a lousy baker who hates cake (I had pie at my wedding, not cake), why should you even continue reading for my recipe? Because, I somehow created an eggless cake recipe that's super easy with only a few ingredients that I always have on hand. Even I have not managed to screw it up, after several batches. Everyone at our party last year loved this cake, hardly believing it was actually eggless. There were no high-pitched "oh these are... great" comments... like, they took them home, ate more, and emailed me for the recipes. I think that qualifies as a "famous" recipe you might want to try!

Cupcakes for the class
I recently repeated the lemon version of the cake for Ian's second birthday. It took a giant batch of batter, but in just 45 minutes I pumped out 12 cupcakes for his pre-school class and a double layer 9" cake for the family. Frosting time is additional, but that's up to you what type of frosting you prefer and how crazy you get with it (I don't expect many re-Pins of my cake pics based on their decorative merit). The cake holds up nicely when made ahead of time (even a few days) and refrigerated, protected by a layer of frosting. The 2-year olds devoured them, and the family was happy to see it again too. My MIL informed me that I'll need to make all the family cakes now.

Just a quick shot of the inside, in the hurry to hand out slices
Eggless Lemon Cake
Two 9” round cakes for a double layer cake
or 24 cupcakes

3 cups milk (2% or Whole) – or use your favorite vegan milk (I like almond or hazelnut, or use soy if you’re going nut-free)
3 tsp apple cider vinegar (white is fine in a pinch)
3 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp almond extract (omit for nut-free)
4-1/2 tsp lemon extract (this is not a typo, you need a lot)
2-1/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable or canola oil (vegetable oil is usually from soy, it works slightly better here)
3 cups all-purpose flour (cake flour does not work well here)
2-1/4 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3 T fresh lemon zest (from 3-4 lemons)

Cupcake liners or non-stick spray
5 Cups Frosting (see below for Basic Buttercream recipe)

1. Heat oven to 350F. Prepare pans with non-stick spray or cupcake liners.

2. Measure out milk and whisk in vinegar. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, soda, powder, and salt. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, combine sugar, milk and vinegar mixture, oil and extracts. Whisk it vigorously until it bubbles and froths.

5. Right before you are ready to bake, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients a little at a time. Combine and whisk just until the lumps have disappeared. Whisk in the lemon zest.

6. Pour the batter into the cake pan, or use a 1/3 C measure to scoop batter into cupcake pans. Bake at 350F until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 9” cake: 25-30 minutes. Cupcakes: 18-20 minutes.

Cool 15 minutes and remove cake from pans to a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting. Refrigerate frosted cake covered in plastic wrap (I suggest serving within 1-3 days, but it keeps for much longer), or freeze wrapped in plastic and foil.

Chocolate Cake
Omit lemon extract and zest. To the dry ingredients, add 1 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder (such as Dagoba)

Chai Cupcakes
(These go great with a whipped cream frosting)
Omit lemon extract and zest. Use chilled Chai tea made with milk instead of plain milk. Add spice mix to dry ingredients.

Spice mix:
6 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

For the tea:
Use 3-1/4 cups milk or soy milk (extra to account for evaporation), bring to a boil in a saucepan. Toss in 6 Chai tea bags (Indian Masala tea) removing paper from the strings. Reduce to a simmer for a few minutes and remove from heat. Discard tea bags and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

Basic Buttercream Frosting
One 9” cake (1 or 2 layers is fine) or 24 cupcakes

1 C unsalted butter at room temperature (this may take 2-4 hours)
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 C confectioners sugar
1 T milk or cream, optional

Using a hand mixer in a deep bowl, cream the butter and extract. Add sugar a little at a time, blending on low-medium speed, until the consistency is creamy but not too thick. You can add milk to thin it, or more sugar to thicken it.

Some novice notes on buttercream:

I stick with a basic buttercream frosting because it’s easy. Milk helps it spread easier, but it’s not necessary. I leave out the milk if I plan to let the cake sit at room temperature for several hours. I usually frost my cake, reserving any extra frosting. I blend a little more sugar into the extra, along with any coloring to make a thicker decorating frosting.

It’s always easier to make a big batch of frosting than a small one, so if you will do much decorating, increase the recipe right from the start (such as use 3 sticks butter + 6 cups frosting, 1-1/2 tsp vanilla).

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