Use What You Have to Make the Best Vegan Quarantine Cake!




Introduction: Use What You Have to Make the Best Vegan Quarantine Cake!

About: Vegan, baker, cosplayer, party planner, traveler, self-proclaimed food monster...

Use what you have to make a vegan chocolate cake with coffee simple syrup, Oreo saltine toffee crumble, and old fashioned vanilla ermine frosting! No saltines, use any cracker! No Oreos, use any cookie!

There's no easier dessert to bake during quarantine than a vegan chocolate cake. No butter, no eggs, no dairy, no problem! At the bare minimum you can bake this cake with a heaping drizzle of coffee simple syrup and feel self-indulgent. But if you do happen to have some butter and few extra ingredients, then you can make quite the lavish cake to eat during your Zoom meetings while making everyone else jealous.

While being in self-quarantine and not able to make a trip to the store I came up with the idea for this cake for my husband's birthday. I scrounged the kitchen and found I had lots of butter but no powdered sugar. I wasn't sure how I was going to make a frosting because I didn't even have chickpeas to make an aquafaba Swiss meringue. Then I came across Ermine icing. This frosting is lightly sweet with a fluffiness reminiscent of whipped cream and a glossy sheen similar to Swiss meringue. Before cream cheese frosting became all the rage for red velvet cake, Ermine was the icing of choice!

Step 1: Make the Toffee Crumble

Ingredients and Supplies

  • 1 sleeve of regular saltines*
  • 1 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/2 granulated sugar or brown sugar
  • 10 Oreos**
  • 13x18 sheet pan***

*One sleeve is 38 crackers. If you want to fill the pan evenly you'll need 2 more, but not necessary.

**I used Oreo thins but you can use any kind of Oreo or cookie.

***Or any baking sheet with a lip around the edges.


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line the pan with parchment paper. I like to crumple my parchment paper so it lays flat instead of rolling back up.
  3. Lay out your crackers on the pan.
  4. In a medium pot, cream together the sugar and butter then heat on medium until fully melted and it comes to a boil. DO NOT STIR. Once you see the mixture boiling, remove from the heat.
  5. Pour the boiling mixture over the crackers.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the crackers are a medium golden brown.
  7. While your toffee is baking, crush up your Oreos either in a food processor or a plastic bag.
  8. Pull out of the oven and sprinkle with Oreos immediately. If you missed your opportunity and the toffee had hardened before the Oreos were able to stick, you can put back in the oven for 3-5 minutes.
  9. Let cool completely.
  10. Once fully cooled and hardened, break toffee into pieces. Crush up your toffee either in a food processor or a plastic bag. You want the pieces to be pretty small or the cake will be difficult to slice.

Step 2: Make the Coffee Syrup

Ingredients and Supplies

  • 1 cup coffee
  • 1 cup sugar*
  • Medium saucepan


  1. Combine sugar and coffee in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  2. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a container and let cool to room temperature.

*Simple syrup is not a thick drizz-able syrup. If that's what you want, use 2 cups of sugar instead. Or alternatively 1/2 cup coffee and 1 cup sugar.

Step 3: Bake the Cakes

Ingredients and Supplies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coffee (or water)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6in cake pans


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Combine the coffee, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and sugar in a medium bowl.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. You can use a hand mixer or stand mixer but not necessary.
  5. Divide between three greased 6-in pans and bake for 22 minutes.*
  6. Once baked, let cool in the pan until they're cool enough to touch. Then flip out onto racks to cool completely.
  7. Cut the domes off the tops of the cake so they stack more evenly.
  8. Use a pastry brush or spoon to soak the tops of the cake with coffee syrup. You really want to drench those cakes!

*Can also be used to bake approximately 12 cupcakes for 16-18 minutes. Or double the batch to bake between two 9-inch pans for 25-30 minutes.

Step 4: Make the Frosting


  • 1 cup plain non-dairy milk (I used almond)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan margarine, room temperature*

This makes enough frosting to do a naked style 3 layer 6-inch cake or ~12 cupcakes. Double the recipe to fully cover the cake.


  1. Place the milk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium microwave-safe bowl and whisk until combined.
  2. Microwave for 2 minutes on high.
  3. Depending on the type of milk you use, your mixture may or may not be thick enough right now. It should be able to hold a clear line when you run your finger across the spatula. If not, continue to microwave until it is. Alternatively you can cook in a saucepan on medium heat until your mixture is the right consistency.
  4. Whisk in the vanilla then place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Press the plastic wrap against the mixture so a film doesn't form. Let cool completely at room temperature or in the fridge. Don't let it cool too long in the fridge. It should be thick like pudding but not solid. If it became solid start the milk cooking process over. If you add this solid mixture to your butter it will have little gelatinous chunks in your frosting.
  5. Place the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer) and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add in the cooled custard a little at a time until fully incorporated. It's ok if it looks a little clumpy.
  7. Turn the mixer up to medium high and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

*I'm using Earth Balance and plan on keeping my cake in the fridge. If your cake will be sitting out for a while and you need a sturdier frosting, use half margarine and half shortening.

Step 5: Assemble the Cake

  1. To assemble place your first cake on the center of a cake board or plate.
  2. Use a piping bag to swirl on a layer of frosting.
  3. Sprinkle on lots of crumble, leaving the outside edges empty.
  4. Swirl on frosting along the outer edge to hold in that crumble.
  5. Stack on your next layer of cake and repeat.
  6. Place your last layer on upside down so the flat bottom side is on top.
  7. Use the rest of the frosting to lightly cover the entire cake. I used a 1M tip to add dollops around the top and then stuck broken pieces of toffee in them.

Optional: Sprinkle on extra crumbles and syrup before serving!

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    2 years ago

    Oops! You have Butter in this Vegan cake!


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks for pointing out my typo! I'm used to just saying/writing butter, milk, etc. but I mean non-dairy butter, non-dairy milk, etc. If you look at my ingredients photos you'll see I'm using Earth Balance margarine sticks. I also make a note of it in the icing section.