As soon as I found out that my new boss eats vegan, I got a knot in the pit of my stomach.  This, of course, was after the first time I brought in baked goods to my new office.  Great.  I realize that when baking for a group, there are always going to be people who won’t or can’t eat what I bake and that I can’t always please everyone.  But I’d like to try.  So when my boss’ birthday was approaching last week, I set out to make her a vegan vanilla cupcake.  It wasn’t an easy task and I must have looked through 15+ recipes (mostly vegan) before I finally settled on the one I wanted to use in the first place: a non-vegan recipe. I knew the challenge of this whole vegan baking thing was going to be the ingredients I used in place of dairy so it didn’t really matter if the recipe was labeled vegan or not.

And through the magic world that is Whole Foods, I found everything I needed: vegan butter, an egg substitute, and soy milk which of course is sold other places as well.  I had a couple of concerns using these new ingredients, some of which I didn’t even know existed before I started reading vegan baking recipes.  How in the world would a powdered egg substitute work? And, can I make buttermilk with soy milk?  And to answer quickly, wonderfully and yes!  All in all, the vegan butter (vegetable oil-based) reduced the oiliness that some butter-based cupcakes turn out like, the egg substitute yielded a fluffy cupcake, and adding 1 1/2 tbsp of white vinegar to 1 1/4 cups of vanilla soy milk makes a great buttermilk.

My coworkers (including the birthday girl of course) couldn’t have been happier with these cupcakes!  The base recipe itself is a fabulous one and one that I look forward to making again.  I completely adore anything vanilla bean and this recipe does not disappoint.  The flavor of these cupcakes improved as they sat and the stash I left home for Kyle was down 3 before I got home from work that day.  When I asked him how he liked them he responded, “Why, what’s in them?” The clear verdict from Kyle and my coworkers was that you could not at all tell that the cupcakes were made with non-traditional baking ingredients.  Success!!

PS – the chocolate buttercream recipe (also vegan) can be found here.


Vegan Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

source: adapted from The Well Decorated Cake via Annie’s Eats and Confections of a Foodie Bride

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 16 tbsp. vegetable oil-based butter (such as Earth Balance), at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 7 ½ tsp. EnerG Egg Replacer mixed with ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. water
  • 1¼ cups vanilla soy milk, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together and set aside.  Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the bowl of the mixer with the butter and discard the pod (or reserve for another use.)  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.
  3. Combine the vanilla soy milk with the vinegar (to make soy buttermilk) and set aside. Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.  Mix in the egg substitute mixture until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Combine the soy buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
  4. Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full (you will likely have batter left over after filling 24 wells.)  Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Replace paper liners and bake remaining batter if desired.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Yield: approximately 30 cupcakes


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Leave a Comment

  • January 31, 2010 at 6:56 PM

    It is definitely tough cooking for large groups of people…you can’t please everyone! Although in this case, it seems like you can. Vegan or not, these cupcakes look fabulous!

  • February 4, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    These really do look fantastic and we are not vegan but we a have a child with food allergies so we avoid milk and eggs among other things and these cupcakes would be great! Is the frosting vegan too? Would love that recipe! Also – I think I would even ues Kamut Khorasan Wheat flour in them 🙂 YUMMY! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • smellslikehome
      February 4, 2010 at 6:05 PM

      Thanks! The frosting recipe is linked in the post. 🙂

  • February 7, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    This recipe looks YUM! I am not vegan but my son has egg allergies so finding good recipes can be hard. That being said, when I bake I make my own eggs using this recipe, has worked well so far, we even use it for waffle & pancake mixes.

    For 1 egg:

    3 tablespoons water
    1 tablespoon ground golden flax
    1/8 teaspoon baking powder

    Mix together and let it sit for a few minutes, does tend to get an “eggy” consistency.

    Thanks for the great recipe!!

  • February 9, 2010 at 10:45 PM

    I love finding vegan baked goods because my daughter is allergic to eggs – thanks!!

  • February 21, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    You amaze me !!! :o)

  • Ella
    May 5, 2010 at 6:53 PM

    Love this recipe! I’m going to try it tonight. I am vegan and I love exploring vegan desserts 🙂 Thanks for opening your heart to give this a go!

  • Kristina
    November 3, 2010 at 4:09 PM

    I clicked the link for the vegan buttercream frosting but it no longer works. Can you either re-post or email to me? Thanks!

  • Devan
    December 8, 2021 at 10:27 AM

    If using flax/chia egg or even something like “JUST egg” how many “eggs” should you be adding in? Love this recipe ! Super excited to try it out 🥰

    • Tara
      October 13, 2022 at 10:25 AM

      Hi Devan, A quick google search will give you the conversion for real eggs to flax/chia eggs. And the package of something like “JUST egg” will give you the instructions to convert as well.