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Cake recipes

Vegan olive oil cake with ginger

Prep time 20 minutes | Cook time 25 minutes
serves 9 people

Photography by Tracey Creed
Assisted by Amandine Paniagua
Recipe by Tracey Creed and Amandine Paniagua
Words by Amandine Paniagua

Recipe best prepared all year

Published November 29 2019
Updated May 18 2022


2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp chai spice blend (or a mix of spices such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg)
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
34 cup brown rice malt syrup
13 cup olive oil
14 cup warm water
1 cup apple sauce


Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a square tin, approximately 19 cm or 7 to 8 inch with baking paper.

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix.

Add the wet ingredients to another bowl and whisk to combine.

Pour your wet ingredients into the dry and mix well until combined. Transfer your mixture into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 25 minutes, until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Remove cake from oven and leave to completely cool before slicing. We frosted ours with a Loving Eearth chocolate ganache, although this cake is lovely on its own.

Any remaining cake should be kept in an air-tight container at room temperature as the fridge will dry the cake out. This cake will keep for up to 4 days.

This vegan olive oil cake with ginger is something simple to make, really easy, literally you combine the ingredients and bake. It is moist, light and slightly sweet. It’s to share, to have throughout your week as a snack, or perhaps an alternative to breakfast toast.

As we mentioned in other recipes, it is essential to respect the size of the baking tin described in the instructions. Most of the baking times are set up for specific batter volume; if you do otherwise, your cake might bake and look differently. For this vegan ginger olive oil cake, we used a 19cm square tin, or 7-inch so try to stick to this. Of course, this is not such a big deal, but be prepared for a different result.

This recipe is a must for any plant-based baker, fail-proof for beginners, and it got me thinking on how to make a cake successfully.

Essential ingredients in vegan cake baking

Baking incidents can be somehow dramatic and if anything wasteful — both ingredients and money. To avoid kitchen drama, I have compiled for you a list of essential vegan baking ingredients, helping you to understand the subtle chemistry of vegan cake baking. And for those already successfully practising vegan baking, you’ll find these tips useful in achieving a perfect moist vegan cake.

All purpose flour

Basically, every flour has its own characteristics and chemical reactions, that’s why changing the type of flour requires a change of proportions and often ingredients. It’s the case when baking a gluten-free cake for example. Gluten-free flours, such as rice or buckwheat flour would result in a different batter texture. Keep in mind, if for dietary reasons you wish to avoid whole wheat flour the recipe will require additional fat and protein to achieve a dreamy consistency — moist, airy. So always do your research before changing the type of flour. Also, carefully respect the flour proportion of a recipe, because extra flour, gluten-free or not, can make baked goods heavier, dry, over dense. That said if you're gluten-sensitive opting for a flour lighter in gluten will work perfectly fine for this vegan cake recipe, you can switch your wholemeal flour for the same amount of spelt flour — spelt would add an extra nutty and sweet taste to your cake.

Brown sugar

Sugar is a texturing element in baking. It flavours the cake but also enables the crust to be crispier. The amount and balance between granulated sugar and liquid sweetener, or even replacing your brown sugar by say, maple syrup would influence the texture of your cake. Experiment beforehand or stick to the recipe proportions to avoid a disaster. Generally, when cooking, baking we avoid refined foods, they contain only simple carbohydrates, where nutrients and fibre have been removed. These poor nutritional properties increase the risk of contracting a large range of diseases, from obesity to type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. In this instance, we favour whole food in baking too and use brown sugar, raw or coconut sugar.

Baking soda

Baking soda is an ancient and inexpensive ingredient with leavening properties renown by bakers for generations. When mixed with acidic ingredients, baking soda unleashes similar characteristics as baking powder. This is why you find apple cider vinegar or lemon juice associated with baking soda in vegan cake recipes. Failing to measure baking soda accurately would give a horrible metallic taste to your batter once mixed, so always stick to the recipe or the following proportion — maximum half teaspoon of baking soda for 300 g of flour. In our vegan cake, we don’t find super acidic food, so we have additional baking powder, another raising agent which makes a cake extra airy.

Vegetable oil

Fat is essential in baking. Vegetable oil contains fat, so it is equally important. It influences colour, flavours and emulsifies the cake — meaning it helps ingredients bind. Vegetable oil also helps the cake becomes moist by reducing gluten formation. In baking, an ideal vegetable oil is judged by tolerance to high heat, creating no smoke or extra flavours. What you'll want to look for in vegetable oils is high in mono-unsaturated fat and low in poly and saturated fat content — and ideally Omega 3. Since oils are frequently used for cooking and baking, we also look for a balance between accessibility and flavour. Neutral vegetable oils such as rapeseed (canola) oil, light olive oil or coconut oil are among our favourites, because of an adequate balance between fat and taste. Despite its high level of saturated fat, we still use coconut oil when the recipe calls for it. That said if you are watching your fat intake flaxseed and water — often used as a vegan egg substitute offer an alternative. This makes for denser cake — though we never tried so I can’t vouch switching oil for flaxseeds will work. Let us know what happens.

Plant-based milk

Bonus, as there is no milk in this recipe. Still, milk is often found in vegan baking. Standard milk plays an important role in baking, moisturises the batter to enable chemical reactions to happen between ingredients. Milk is easy to replace in vegan baking but we find that the recurrent issue with plant-based milk is a lack of raw ingredients, thus protein and fat. These two nutrients are essential in baking, the first adds structure to the batter, capable of withstanding the heat while in the oven, and avoid collapsing. On the other hand, the fat tenderises and moisturises the cake, and flavours the batter.

Depending on the type of milk you’re using, a change of taste or texture might occur, albeit differences are minor. For this vegan cake, we used Nutty Bruce almond milk. It was the best brought-store milk we could find at the time, with approximately 10% of almonds. Now with more options available, Oatis oat milk, or any organic plant-based milk containing over 7% of raw ingredients, like almond, coconut or oats are our go-to’s. Some people also appreciate soy milk, the most acidic plant-based milk, a property working well with baking soda. Again, a minimum of 7% of soy is necessary for the milk to be suitable for baking. Another option is home-made blend, oats or coconut milk. The advantage of making your own plant-based milk, beyond being cheaper, is that you can adjust the water volume, the amount of raw product, creaminess, and so fat and protein. Finally, we recommend avoiding any type of rice milk. With about 2 grams of fat and only 1 gram of protein, this milk is light, not really suitable for baking — you would end up with a crumbled cake. Better to reserve for pudding or custard.

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