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Vegan cakes too moist?

I've made two cakes for a vegan friend, one the wacky cake a group of you suggested to me and the second cake was one I posted in our conversation about baking for vegans, a Mexican Wedding Cake that's just 2 c flour, 2 c sugar, 20 oz crushed pineapple, 1 t baking soda 1 t vanilla and 1/2 c chopped pecans.

The guy loved both cakes and just sent me an email telling me he thought the pineapple one was the most amazing thing he's ever tasted and they could sell it at Whole Foods. I think the guy is nuts: just yesterday I told my husband I was going to throw out the recipe because I thought it was too wet and kinda tasted to me like pineapple flavored flour.

As for the wacky cake, it was a hit but I was glad I was the one serving it because it was so gooey on the bottom--same as the wedding cake--I had to keep scraping off the server because so much stuck to it from the bottom.

I don't know, maybe some people like that, but to me a cake should be a bit . . . cakier. Is this what happens when you don't add eggs? Is there a better way to do a vegan cake? Or am I doing something wrong?

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  1. I've made the wacky cake quite often. Before I went vegan, I made it. It was super easy and always turned out perfectly. I've never had it be gooey on the bottom. Did you try mixing it in the pan?

    I typically mix all the dry ingredients together, and then all the wet, minus the vinegar. Then, I mix those together and then add the vinegar to that batch. I found that it kept the chemical reaction more evenly spread throughout the batter, and avoided flour clumps.

    1. have you baked anything else lately? it honestly sounds to me like either your oven temp is off or you're taking the cakes out too early.

      7 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        I've been asking questions on the Cookware Board about oven thermometers because I've been thinking my oven is too hot. My cakes seem to be done way ahead of time. I mean WAY ahead of time: like if it says 30-40 min at 350, I get a clean toothpick at 25 min. Is the clean toothpick not a good indicator?

        1. re: Birmingham

          how is the pick clean if the bottom is still goopy?

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            Well, do you really insert a toothpick all the way down to touch the bottom of the pan? I never have. And it's not possible with a lot of cakes. I insert it probably 2 inches which is what I would assume is normal.

            1. re: Birmingham

              yes, i poke it all the way in. i use bamboo skewers for tall cakes or a slim knife if it will be frosted.

              if the top is looking too done, it may be the position of the racks in your oven as well.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Okay, I'll admit I'm no expert, just a regular ol' home cook, but all the cookbooks and recipes I have, as well as those from my mother and grandmother, all say to test a cake with a toothpick, not a bamboo skewer. ;-) And all my cakes have been perfectly fine tested this way. It's only these last attempts at vegan cakes that have resulted in wet bottoms. And even if I had touched bottom with my toothpick, I think it would have been unlikely anything would have stuck to the toothpick: if the cake is nicely done and it's just the very bottom that's extra moist, it probably wouldn't have stuck to the tip of the toothpick--or even a bamboo skewer (which I wouldn't think would be as good as a toothpick since it's smoother).

                1. re: Birmingham

                  lol, i use the skewers because they are longer. if the bottom is goopy, your cake isn't finished baking. simple.

                  like others have said, i make that wacky cake often and have never had an issue. i've made a banana version too, no probs.

                  are you using the rack in the center of your oven? or higher?

              2. re: Birmingham

                You need to go ALL the way down through the cake, preferably diagonally. A toothpick isn't long enough to test anything thicker than a brownie - when the cake seems to be done on the top and around the edges it's still goopy in the middle, especially towards the bottom of the pan. I use a metal poultry skewer to test with, or you can use bamboo skewers if you want something disposable.

        2. I agree with goodhealthgourmet that it sounds as if your cakes are underbaked. I've made the wacky cake and variations of it many times as well, over the past 25+ years, and I've never had that result. It's moist, like good cake is moist, not gooey or wet. Do you have an oven thermometer with which you can check that the temperature is true?

          1. If anything, I think it's hard to keep vegan cakes moist enough - without the egg, it's sometimes possible for them to be a bit too dry / crumbly. I don't think this is a common problem, so I'd agree you should check your oven temperature and make sure the cake is done before taking out, and maybe play around with some different recipes.

            I have had good luck using standard cake recipes and using standard vegan egg substitutes (usually ener-g egg replacer or flax seed meal blended with some water), and some sort of solid vegetable fat if butter is called for. Or maybe try some of the vegan cupcake recipes and just don't make them as cakes.

            I did once have a deliciously moist vegan 9-layer carrot cake. My wife, who is normal not a fan of carrot cake (vegan or not), thought this was amazing. I think there was coconut milk involved, but I'm not sure how exactly it was made.

            1. that wacky cake is an easy go-to for me for chocolate cake. i think you're underbaking it. either your oven is low or you are taking it out too early.

              a pick through the center should come out clean.

              1. i'm with everyone else. you're either taking it out too early or you have oven issues. there is a chance that you're oven temp is uneven. i had an old oven once that was really uneven so i put my pizza stone in it which made it more even. i also had got a thermometer to place in the oven ( you can get one at WS for like $15) and learned that my oven ran like 50 degrees colder than indicated. and yes, get a package of bamboo skewers and save those toothpicks for picking your teeth or hors d'oeuvres!

                1. Okay, I just made another wacky cake--this time 8x8 (I did 9x13 last time). And I FORCED myself to leave it in till 30 minutes. But around 15-20 I smelled something like burning cocoa. At 27 min, I couldn't take it anymore so took it out and did the toothpick test--went all the way down and it was perfectly clean--as it has been before. But now I can tell it's overdone. AND I still seem to have cake sticking to the bottom (non-stick pan btw). Maybe that sticking to the bottom is just normal?

                  I will definitely be getting an oven thermometer as soon as I can. The oven temp was repaired maybe 3 months ago and the guy said what he put in was better than what the oven originally came with. I didn't really follow him, but apparently my oven would be more accurate than ever. Maybe not. :-/

                  I'm going to go back to my regular cakes. I wasn't having any trouble with them--but maybe something's gone haywire with my oven. (Regular baking hasn't been a problem.)

                  Update: I've frosted the cake and let my hubby try it and he thinks it's fine. Because the sides are a bit crunchy, I assumed it was overdone, but maybe this is okay. And since I haven't made many cakes that stay in the pan (i.e., not turned out like a bundt cake), maybe what I've had is just a normal amount of cake that stays at the bottom of the pan when serving.

                  In conclusion: I still think my oven is a tad on the hot side, but I've probably been taking the cakes out too early. I also kinda wish I hadn't started this thread at all. :[

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Birmingham

                    I also kinda wish I hadn't started this thread at all. :[

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Oh I just got kinda frustrated about the toothpick vs bamboo thing because I didn't think it was germain to the subject (and it's against anything I ever learned from mother and grandmother). The cakes in question are not deep cakes that need a skewer. And the deeper cakes I've made are not a problem.

                      AND I came to realize that I'm probably just ignorant about cakes anyway.

                      1. re: Birmingham

                        I didn't think it was germain to the subject
                        ha! haven't you learned by now that precious few Chowhounds possess the capacity to stay on topic? ;)

                        you're not ignorant. we can't all be experts about everything, and we have to learn somehow, right? besides, i still think it's wonderfully generous and thoughtful of you to make such an effort for your friend when you're not vegan yourself, and are essentially learning a new skill set just to bake things for him.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I appreciate your putting out your baking challenges so we all can learn! One idea -- if it turns out your oven is OK and the cakes are still sticking -- I like to line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Trace the pan, cut out the paper, put a light coating of oil on the pan and then place the paper on top. Then, when you flip out the pan, you can just gently peel off the paper. I use this for a bunch of recipes and it really helps. Good luck.

                      2. re: Birmingham

                        I like this thread. I am a vegan baker who has never had the problem you describe, yet it leaves me curious. I also think it is great you are experimenting with vegan baking! My vegan chocolate cake with vegan peanut butter frosting is everyone's favorite. If I do not show up with it, people lock the door and do not let me in.

                        1. re: mvi

                          So can I have the recipe? Although if my vegan friend thought my pineapple Mexican Wedding Cake was the best thing he ever tasted on the planet, I'm not sure I should change anything. ;-) (All I can think is that he's been drinking too much beet juice.)

                        2. re: Birmingham

                          I've had problems with things sticking to non-stick, even when they aren't supposed to. I'd recommend either buttering + flouring the pan or using parchment paper. I've been too annoyed by things sticking and ending up with a mess to risk it.

                          1. re: tazia

                            You know, I have been wondering about that--if it's the nonstick pan, but it just didn't seem logical to me. So I will try the butter/flour or parchment paper next time.

                            1. re: Birmingham

                              from chowhounds i learned about baker's joy. it's spray oil with a bit of flour in it. fantastic product.

                              maybe your nose is overanxxious? ;)

                              glad the cake wasn't burnt. you could also try moving the pans to a lower rack for the final few minutes of baking. could be a hot spot on the top of your oven.

                        3. Just to expand the thread of eager vegan bakers. . my vegan cakes are always too dry. They only type that work are the wacky cakes, but it gets boring after a while. Any tips on other vegan cake recipes that don't get too dry?

                          5 Replies
                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              The reviews are awfully mixed. Do you do anything different to modify it? And I'm wondering why it's so flat--could you put it in an 8x8 to get a better height on it?

                              1. re: Birmingham

                                i made it in round cake tins. but it has been awhile, so thanks for sparking up my tired brain. i followed this change in the reviews.


                                The call for 2 cups of flower is wrong. It makes the cake too dense and as a result the cake cooks improperly. Reduce amount of flour to about 1 1/2 cups and do not include the water (which is pointless to begin with.)"


                                i also added some powdered ginger. and a dash of salt, which belongs in every cake recipe.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  That was the suggestion I was wondering if I should follow--except for the spelling of flour. ;-)

                            2. re: xcskier20

                              Well I'd love it if someone else would try that Mexican Wedding Cake and tell me how it works for you. I know when I first had it at a potluck, I thought it was fantastico, but the 2 times I've made it at home I haven't been crazy about it. (And when I tried putting it in a bundt pan, it COMPLETELY stuck--even with Baker's Joy.) But as I wrote above, my vegan friend thought it was the best thing he ever tasted.

                              I've posted it before, but I'll write it verbatim from the recipe I was given:

                              Mexican Wedding Cake

                              1 20 oz can crushed pineapple with juice
                              2 cups sugar
                              2 cups flour
                              1 tsp baking soda
                              1 tsp vanilla
                              1/2 cup chopped pecans

                              Mix all ingredients together. Bake in greased and floured 9x13 pan at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

                              Icing (not vegan: I used Pillsbury vanilla frosting and added pecans)
                              1 8oz cream cheese, softened
                              1 stick butter or margarine
                              3/4 cup granulated sugar (I think it should be confectioner's)
                              1 tsp vanilla
                              1/2 cup chopped pecans

                              Beat cream cheese, butter and sugar until thick in high speed mixer. Add vanilla, beat. Add pecans and stir. Ice cake while warm.

                            3. Wow, Birmingham, you certainly have had some folks jump on your post! I, too, have had folks occasionally get a bit nasty on what I think are innocent posts. For the most part I have had nothing but appreciative, helpful, and kind responses to my questions. Occasionally there are those who feel the need to chastise. Sorry you experienced that but please do not be put off. Most CH posters are very nice folks! Happy baking!!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: rjlebed

                                Thank you. :-)

                                Good thing I don't have PMS like I did yesterday when I wanted to throw in the towel.