Who’d have thought vegan looked this good?

I think I’ve mentioned before that Sweet Pea is allergic to dairy.  So when confronted with the problem of a dairy-free birthday cake (no butter? Horror.), I turned to the dark side.  I thought to myself, “Self?  You are a decent baker, but you may be no match for the challenges of vegan baking.  Maybe you should just purchase a cake.”  Well, who can turn away from a challenge like that?  Since this was a summer birthday party (if you don’t know why we had a birthday party, you are clearly living in a cave), I decided that fruity was the way to go.  Besides, I’m not a huge fan of chocolate cake.  Gasp!  Did I just say that out loud?  I may be shunned by a certain mother-in-law who thinks a meal is not complete without a bite of chocolate at the end.

In the end, I made carrot cupcakes and lemon cupcakes with “buttercream” icing.  The carrot cake recipe is from Tom’s family and is nearly vegan already; I just had to substitute egg-free powder for the eggs.  The lemon cupcakes were a little more complicated, since most of the recipes I found online used sour cream or other various milk sundries.  I ended up finding a lemon cupcake recipe to start from, and adapting it to my favorite ingredients.  The end result?  Lemony awesomness.  The cupcakes were moist, lemony, and oh-so-delicious.  As an added bonus, the faux buttercream was as good as the real thing!  I may or may not have gotten sick from licking too much lemon frosting off the spatula after decorating the cupcakes.

Vegan Lemon Cupcakes

2 c. coconut milk

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2/3 c. olive oil

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract (yes, Tablespoon)

Juice from half a lemon

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 c. cornstarch

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

Zest of one whole lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine coconut milk and apple cider vinegar in mixer bowl, wait 5 minutes before beginning recipe.  While you’re waiting, line 22 muffin cups with paper liners.

To the milk and vinegar mixture, add olive oil, sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice.  Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl, then slowly add to wet ingredients with the mixer turned on.  Blend until no lumps remain, then mix in lemon zest.  Pour into prepared muffin tins, filling the cups about 3/4 full (these cupcakes do not rise very much).  Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one cupcake comes out clean.  Cool for five minutes in the pan, then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.

Lemon “Buttercream” Frosting

1/2 c. Earth Balance or other butter substitute

1/2 c. vegetable shortening

4 c. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Juice of half a lemon

Cream butter substitute and shortening in a large bowl.  Add vanilla extract and lemon juice, then slowly mix in powdered sugar.  I wanted my frosting thick enough to pipe, but mix to your desired taste using more or less sugar.  If you make the frosting too thick, add a little more lemon juice or some coconut milk to thin it out again.  Decorate cupcakes, then eat any leftovers with a spatula.  If you don’t like a lot of frosting, cut this recipe in half for just a light dusting on each cupcake.

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