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Vegan Vanilla Sheet Cake with Mixed Berry Buttercream Frosting (Sugar Free and Gluten Free options)

This eye popping treat is made up of a soft and fluffy vegan vanilla sheet cake base, topped with dreamy swirls of mixed berry buttercream frosting.  All you need is one bowl, any type of frozen berries you desire, and a handful of pantry staples, and you’ll be impressing friends and family with this beauty in no time!

Swirls of pink frosting on top of the completed cake

Friends, I have a lot to say about this cake.  Which I am going to say in the very next line.  But I am going to start with – LOOK. AT. THOSE. SWIRLS.  Look at those things!!!  I think if you look too long you may get hypnotized, and that’s not my goal here.  My goal is to help you bake a really yummy vegan vanilla sheet cake.  So let’s get back to that.

Okay, this cake.  It’s delicious!  The cake itself is SO soft and fluffy, and super tender and moist thanks to a great mixture of vegan butter AND oil.  The frosting color is natural, thanks to a concentrated reduction of frozen berries mixed into a traditional vegan buttercream frosting recipe.  You can even toss some fresh berries on top for an added pop of flavor and texture.

The fun of this cake is how versatile it is.  Since the berry frosting is made using frozen berries, you can pick any type of frozen berry you want and customize your flavor that way.  If you love a little lemon brightness with fruit flavors, feel free to add some lemon zest into the base of the cake (follow along with this Lemon Sheet Cake recipe if you want to mix and match the cake base and the frosting).  If you have fresh berries on hand, you can add some over the top like I mentioned earlier.  Or just make the cake to snack on. You can’t go wrong with a delicious vanilla cake hanging out on the counter to pick at between meals!

Okay the last thing I’ll say before we get into the step by step is – LOOK AT THOSE FROSTING SWIRLS!!

One close up piece of cake with bright pink frosting, topped with a few fresh berries, on a white surface

How To Make It:

This cake is easy easy easy.  It’s got two components – the vegan vanilla sheet cake itself, and the frosting.  We’re going to start with the frosting, simply because the berry reduction will need time to cool before mixing it in with the frosting, so that’s where you’ll want to start your journey today.

The berry reduction..

Start by measuring out 2 cups of frozen berries.  You can certainly use fresh berries if you want, but I recommend frozen since they’re just getting mashed into liquid anyway. May as well save the money and use any fresh berries for topping instead.  And again, you can use any type of frozen berries you want here – raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries.. I used a mixed berry medley of all 4 for the photos you see in this post.  Put your frozen berries into a small saucepan or pot with 2 tbsp of sugar (see the Ingredients Needed section to learn how to make this whole cake sugar free!) and heat on medium/low heat for 10-15 minutes.  During this time, break up the berries as much as possible using a wooden spoon or spatula or fork.  Keep at it until there are no big chunks left.

Mixed berries cooking down in a pot

Once they’re pretty liquified, strain the liquid out through a fine mesh strainer.  It will come to around 1/3 of a cup (don’t forget to measure liquid in liquid measuring cups!), but don’t worry if it’s a little more or a little less, we can balance this out later with how much powdered sugar we add into the frosting itself.  Set the liquid aside to cool entirely before taking next steps with it.

The cake batter..

While the berry liquid is cooling, it’s cake time!!  The best time!  Make sure your vegan butter and non-dairy milk are at room temperature before beginning here – I leave mine out for 2-3 hours before starting.  In a large bowl, combine the vegan butter, neutral oil, and sugar.  You want to cream this together fully until it is light and fluffy.  Whether you are using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or just getting down and dirty with your hands, do not skimp on this part.  Mix it for a solid few minutes until it looks like the below.

Fluffy creamed butter, oil, and sugar

Next add in the other wet ingredients, the non-dairy milk and vanilla extract.  At this point the mixture will look separated, sort of like a weird oil painting.  This is okay and correct, and it will come back together again with the dry ingredients, which you will add in next.  Gluten free (or all-purpose) flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix until fully combined, but try not to overmix or the batter will get tough.

All wet ingredients in a bowl
Full batter in a bowl
Sheet cake batter uncooked in a pan

Pour into a well-greased and/or parchment lined 9×13 pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  I turn the pan halfway through the bake time to ensure it bakes evenly on all sides, which I recommend for you too unless you know your oven is the most perfect oven of all time and there are no warmer spots or cooler spots.  Test for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center of the cake and removing from the oven when the toothpick comes out with just crumbs, no wet batter.

Sheet cake batter cooked in a pan

Place the pan directly onto a cooling rack to make sure air circulates around the bottom as well, and let cool in the pan for at least 15-20 minutes before removing it.  Even if you used parchment paper I’d recommend removing by inverting the cake out onto a large cooling rack or large pan or cutting board or anything it’ll fit onto, since if you try to lift out using the parchment paper it may break in the middle.

The frosting..

You want the cake to cool entirely before frosting it, which works well because your berry concentrate probably needs a bit more cooling time too.  When they’re both at room temperature, it’s time to make the frosting.  Start by adding the vegan butter to a large bowl, you want it cold straight from the fridge.  Beat it for a few minutes until it’s soft and fluffy, I use a simple hand mixer, but of course you can use a fancier mixer if you’ve got one. 

Add in the powdered sugar and the berry liquid a little bit at a time mixing and scraping down the sides along the way to combine it all together.  I’d also suggest tasting as you go, since depending on the berries you used / the amount of liquid you get / etc, you may want to adjust slightly.  If you want a thicker frosting, add more powdered sugar.  You may want to add a pinch of salt or a tsp of vanilla extract to taste. 

And now you’re ready to put the vegan vanilla sheet cake together!  Spread the frosting on top of the cake, add some fresh berries if you want, and get to eating!  Oh and if you need cake decorating inspiration – LOOK. AT. THOSE. SWIRLS!!!

Swirls of frosting on top of the cake, also covered with fresh mixed berries

Storage:

Store the cake in an air tight container and keep at room temperature for a day or two, or in the fridge for 3-5 days.

Pro Tips & Tools:

  • Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method.  Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
  • Make sure you measure your liquid ingredients using liquid measuring cups.  This will ensure accuracy!  I love this set.

Ingredients Needed:

  • Frozen berries – whichever type of berry you want to use.  I used a mixed berry blend in these photos.
  • Powdered sugar – for the frosting. If you want this part to be sugar free, you can use this Monkfruit Powdered Sweetener in place of powdered sugar.
  • Vegan butter – I use Earth Balance sticks
  • Neutral oil – any should do, I always use grapeseed. 
  • Granulated sugar – If you want to make these sugar free, I love using this Monkfruit Sweetener in place of granulated sugar.
  • Non-dairy milk – any should do here!  I usually use soy or almond.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Flour – Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method.  Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
  • Baking powder – I recommend using baking powder that has no added aluminum. This one is my go-to.
  • Salt
Photo looking down on cut pieces of the cake with one turned on its side

What To Bake Next:

Swirls of pink frosting on top of the completed cake

Vegan Vanilla Sheet Cake with Mixed Berry Frosting (Sugar Free and Gluten Free options)

This eye popping treat is made up of a soft and fluffy vanilla cake base, topped with dreamy swirls of mixed berry buttercream frosting.  All you need is one bowl, any type of frozen berries you desire, and a handful of pantry staples, and you’ll be impressing friends and family with this beauty in no time!
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Birthday Party, Dessert, tea party
Servings 24 pieces

Ingredients
  

Berry Frosting Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries of your choice
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar *if you want a sugar free option, this links to my favorite sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegan butter
  • 3½ – 4 cups powdered sugar *if you want a sugar free option, this links to my favorite powdered sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular powdered sugar

Vanilla Cake Ingredients

  • ½ cup vegan butter softened to room temperature
  • ¼ cup neutral oil
  • heaping cups granulated sugar *see notes for more specifics on”heaping”, and also if you want a sugar free option, again, this links to my favorite sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular granulated sugar
  • cups non-dairy milk room temperature
  • tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups gluten free flour can sub all-purpose if desired. This links to my favorite store bought gluten free flour blend that works best with all of my recipes, or see “Ingredients Needed” section for further info.
  • tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions
 

  • For this recipe you want to start by making the frozen berry reduction since that needs to cool entirely before mixing it into the frosting, then make the cake so that can cool while the berry reduction is cooling, then make the frosting and put it all together once both components are at room temperature.
  • Frozen Berry Reduction.  Start by measuring out 2 cups of whatever types of frozen berries you are using here.  Place them into a small pot or saucepan along with 2 tbsp of granulated sugar, and cook down on medium/low heat for 10-15 minutes.  During this time, use a wooden spoon or spatula or even a fork to break up the berries until there are no large chunks remaining.  Remove from heat and use a mesh strainer to strain the liquid out of the mixture, which will get you around 1/3 of a cup.  The recipe is forgiving if it’s a little more or a little less.  Set aside to cool completely.
  • Vanilla Cake.  Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease and/or use parchment paper to line a 9×13 sheet pan.  In a large bowl, cream together your vegan butter, neutral oil, and granulated sugar.  Whether you are using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or even your hands, make sure you mix it together for a solid few minutes until it is light and fluffy.  Then add in the non-dairy milk and vanilla extract, at which point the mixture will appear separated.  Finally add in the gluten free flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix again until combined, but do not overmix.  Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes, turning the pan halfway through.
  • Frosting.  Once the berry reduction is fully cooled, and once the cake is at room temperature and ready to be put together, it’s time to make the frosting.  Take the vegan butter straight from the fridge so it is cold, and add to a large bowl.  Mix with a stand mixer or hand mixer on its own until soft and fluffy, then slowly add the berry reduction and the powdered sugar a little at a time until the frosting is at your desired consistency.  Add more powdered sugar to get it thicker, less to keep it more liquidy.  Add a little vanilla extract or a pinch of salt to taste if you want.  Then spread the frosting on top of the cake.
  • Eat and enjoy!

Notes

Confused by the phrase “heaping” cup of sugar?  Basically this means – when you scoop the sugar from the container, instead of leveling it off at the top of the measuring cup, you can leave that little pile of excess sugar on top.  
Keyword mixed berries, mixed berry frosting, sheet cake, vanilla cake
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