Dairy-Free Lemon “Buttercream” Birthday Cake

My allergy girl celebrated her 1st birthday not with the typical Chocolate Cake and accompanying adorable messy-faced photos that most do… she had strawberry-rhubarb pie.   We just didn’t know at that time how to give a kid with dairy, egg and nut allergies a proper birthday cake!   Kate HATES strawberries!!!    So not a good pick but at that time, we were just newly diagnosed with all of her food allergies and I was just trying to survive (the stress!, breast-feeding and not knowing what was safe for ME to eat so that my milk would be safe for her!…. trying to figure out how we were going to live a normal life….).  Thank god for my dear friend Wendy Lishman who saved later birthdays from similar fates by sharing what is now my go-to allergy-safe cake recipe!

This year, I wanted something fresh and summery for Kate’s birthday menu so I decided  to mix things up with Lemon Cake!   Her and I share yellow as our fave colour too so it was the perfect choice!   I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did! 

When life gives you lemons….bake a cake!


  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspons baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps grated lemon zest
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups dairy-free “buttermilk”  (click here for recipe)

For the Dairy-Free “Buttercream” Frosting:

  • 8 cups powdered icing sugar
  • 2 cups Earth Balance dairy-free margarine
  • 2 tsps grated lemon zest
  • tbsp dairy-free milk (I use rice or coconut milk)


  1. Grease 2 nine-inch round cake pans with coconut oil or the dairy-free margarine. Then flour them and line with 2 circles cut out of parchment paper.
  2. Sift together all dry ingredients for cake.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment,  beat together the vegetable oil, shortening, vanilla and lemon zest on high speed until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  5. Fold in the lemon zest.
  6. Fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the prepared dairy-safe buttermilk. (Start with adding 1/3 or dry ingredients, 1/2 “buttermilk”, 2nd third of dry ingredients, remaining “buttermilk, and then add last third of dry ingredients.   Do not overmix the batter).
  7. Once batter is smooth and lump-free, pour into prepared cake pans.
  8. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  9. While cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting.  Combine the icing sugar, lemon zest, and margarine in stand mixer.  Add rice milk or alternative dairy-free milk a little at a time as needed to create a smooth, creamy frosting.
  10. Spread a good amount of the frosting on the bottom layer for the middle of the cake and then continue to ice the entire cake – top and sides.  Store at room temperature.

Bon appetit!

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