A vegan twist on classic spice cake

Vegan pumpkin spice cake

It’s winter and, let’s face it, the furiously cold wind and slippery surfaces are unforgiving. I’m less tempted to enjoy the great outdoors and more interested in the delicious, decadent flavors of comfort food and baked goods. I put off slipping on the running shoes and reach for the measuring cups instead. With spatula in hand, my brain lures me with this one, simple thought: “You feel like baking.”

In the spring, I’m a salad fiend. In the summer, I want fresh fruit smoothies. Fall brings the beginning of homemade soup marathons in my kitchen and winter … well, this time of year I’m in love with pumpkin anything. I bake pumpkin scones, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies … well, you get the idea. As of late, I’ve been venturing into more healthy ways of baking because, honestly, if I’m not putting on those running shoes, I’m putting on something else and those calories ain’t going anywhere.

Katie asked me to contribute because I boast a predominantly vegetarian diet, but I do like to dabble in the untouched animal-friendly territory that is vegan cooking. These days, people are making honest efforts to live better and eat better, and while I’m not vegan — I love cheese waaaaay too much — I do love experimenting with old recipes and converting them into cholesterol-free, lower fat vegan versions. You get to indulge without too much guilt and without losing the excitement your taste buds build before the flavors hit your mouth.

I’m not going to shove vegetarianism or vegan eating down your throat. I love eating vegetarian; I feel better, look better (I hope!) and find the cooking possibilities endless and adventuresome. There are a lot of great blogs, articles and research available to read on the benefits of this. And since I’m not such an expert on the later, if you’re interested in what it takes to be a vegan, check this blog post out: www.nomeatathlete.com/wish-i-knew-vegan/

Remember what I said a minute ago about pumpkin? I originally wanted to try this as a vegan take on a classic spice cake recipe. I also wanted to try it in a bundt pan; too dense for that. And, the cayenne spice (my Bam!) was a bit overbearing. So I tweaked it a bit, balanced out the spices so one wasn’t overbearing the others and, yes, threw in the pumpkin on a whim. I am oh-so-glad I did! The result was better than I expected, kind of like finding that perfect pair of boots or walking into your favorite cupcake shop and seeing the last mocha double chocolate waiting for you like a sweet, little best friend … but I digress.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a delicious post-dinner party dessert or wow-your-coworkers yeah-I-baked-this treat. It also looks good in the morning next to a cup of French roast coffee. Just sayin’.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Glaze

Spice cake with maple glaze

  • Vegetable oil spray (Katie suggests coconut oil)
  • 1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg (ground or fresh grated)
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • ¼ cup fresh apple cider
  • ½ cup vegetable oil (Katie suggests coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square or round glass baking dish with vegetable oil spray.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and sift together with a fork (or I like to use a large whisk). Add the milk, cider, oil and vanilla extract and stir until mixture comes together as a batter (just moistened). The batter will be thick, so don’t freak out, people. Vegan pumpkin spice cake
  3. Fold in the pumpkin, being careful not over mix. It’s really more of a mash in because of the batter’s thickness, but just trust me and don’t spend more than like 2 minutes mixing everything. Spice cake with maple glaze A vegan twist on classic spice cake
  4. Place your batter ball into the baking dish and spread evenly. I like to push everything to the corners and then smooth it out. Bake on the center rack for 35-40 minutes, or just until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely on wire rack before applying the glaze.*

Spice cake with maple glaze

Spice cake with maple glaze

For the glaze:

  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp pure maple extract (imitation is fine)

In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup and maple extract. The glaze will be thick but pourable. Spread across the top of the cake.

Spice cake with maple glaze

*If you want a drizzled effect, remove the cake from the pan just after taking it out of the oven and let it cool to slightly warm on a wire rack, about 20-25 minutes. Place a piece of wax paper underneath to catch the excess glaze. Get swirly creative and pour the glaze across the cake to the edges, allowing glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Spice cake with maple glaze

Spice cake with maple glaze

Rochelle DayRochelle Day

My first job outside of college was as a nocturnal page designer at the South Bend Tribune, and there I met Rochelle. Her love for running, cooking, food and people are always forefront and she rocks an eccentric approach to life that is quite fabulous and admirable. Not to mention her glorious curly hair that shouts fun! Like her recipe? Rochelle occasionally shares other vegetarian/vegan dishes for her friends drooling pleasure via Instagram alongside the adventures of exploring South Bend with her pup. Find her @godspoiema.