just a smidgen

Pansy Wacky Cake

Pansy Cake 5

Smidge: “Sorry can’t make it to the bbq, going to be in Hawaii.. jk
What can I bring?? A birthday cake??”

G: “A cake would be nice.”

Smidge: “Any allergies, besides Gluten-Free?”

G: “No Eggs! Banana! Pineapple! Almonds!”

Yikes, a gluten-free cake that doesn’t use eggs?
Well, Smidge is not one to back down from a challenge and a promise..
if Smidge promises a cake, then Smidge is going to darn well bring a cake!

I have used egg replacer powder before but I couldn’t see getting the rise I’d need for a triple layer cake.
A bit of searching and I found my recipe:

The Wacky Cake

Pansy Cake 4

During the depression eggs and milk were scarce, as was butter, so some inventive homemaker created the Wacky Cake. This cake recipes uses only a few ingredients with vinegar and baking soda for leavening and oil replaces the butter. I followed the Food Network recipe although most versions are almost identical.

To ensure results, I made the cake three times in three separate bowls, pouring each one into a 9″ round cake tin.

This was my opportunity to put my favorite Cup4Cup to the test as well, it passed with flying colors!
I literally substituted the all-purpose flour with Cup4Cup and didn’t change any of the other ingredients.

Unfortunately Cup4Cup, while it is gluten-free, does contain milk powder.. but if you have another GF blend that works, or if you don’t need gluten-free, just use regular all-purpose flour for this cake and you’ll be good to go Vegan:)

I was so nervous when it was finally time to cut the cake.. would the Cup4Cup have a great texture and would an egg-less, butter-less and milk-free
cake taste any good??

Pansy Cake 9

The baking time was the only tricky part, it was tough to tell if the layers were done. I used my usual method of a skewer inserted in the center, it came out clean so I took the cakes out.. and the centers promptly collapsed and even looked a bit moist.

Undaunted, I turned the oven back on and put the cakes back in to finish baking, about 5 minutes more. They rose a bit more and were totally usable with a little extra icing to fill in the depression { I just had to say that 😀 }

Pansy Cake 3

This was the heaviest cake I’ve ever made, I knew it’d make a good door-stop if it didn’t taste any good.

This is one tough little cake, it made it through the depression and made it through a second baking and came out with 5 star reviews. Everyone loved it, including me..

and.. it was much loved by our birthday girl who hasn’t been able to eat a slice of birthday cake in years..

Pansy Cake 7

I envisioned a cake covered in pansies and used a large 2D petal tip then dotted each center with a yellow baking pearl.

Pansy Wacky Cake

I always begin my cakes the day before, freeze the layers and frost the cake on the day of the event. Frozen cake layers are so much easier to handle.

Best of all.. this recipe can be made Vegan just by switching out the flour and the butter in the frosting!

Pansy Wacky Cake

Pansy Wacky Cake ~ Gluten Free ‘n Vegan
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 3 x 9-inch round cake pans
  • cocoa powder to prepare the pans
  • 1 1/2 cups Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Flour (found at Williams Sonoma)
  • Vegan: Substitute with regular all-purpose flour or any GF or your own GF flour blend
  • 3 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder (I used Callebaut)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold water
  1. Preheat 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease 3 9-inch round cake pans, then line the bottom with waxed paper. Just trace the bottom of the pan with a knife around a piece of waxed paper to mark the size, then cut out the paper and place it into the buttered bottom of the pan. Repeat for the last two pans. Then grease the waxed paper. Sprinkle a heaping spoonful of powdered cocoa into one pan, bang and shake until the cocoa powder covers the bottom and sides of the pan. Repeat for the remaining two pans. Discard any excess cocoa you may have.
  3. Measure all of the the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Using a spatula or large wooden spoon, push the dry ingredients aside to make 3 small holes in the mixture. Pour the vanilla in one of the holes, the vinegar in another and, finally, the vegetable oil in the last hole. Pour the cold water water over top and mix, spooning and folding the ingredients together gently. Be careful not to over mix. I used the back of the spatula to smooth out some of the small lumps that formed.
  4. Pour into your prepared 9 inch round cake pan.
  5. Repeat for the other two cakes.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Then insert a skewer, if it comes out clean the cakes may be done. You might want to leave them in just a bit longer, maybe 5-10 minutes but keep an eye on them so the sides don’t overcook. This helps to prevent the center of the cake from falling too much.
  7. Allow to cool completely, then gently turn out on a rack to cool with the bottoms of the cake layers up. Then wrap individually in wax paper and freeze until the day of the event.
  8. On the day of your party:
  9. Remove your frozen cake layers from the freezer, unwrap them, remove the wax paper and set aside.
  10. Mix up 2 1/2 batches of Perfect for Piping Buttercream Frosting, recipe below. You may only require two batches, but I made two and found that I needed a 1/2 batch of frosting to finish piping the pansies.


Perfect for Piping “Buttercream” or Vegan Frosting

To make this a Vegan frosting, use Earth Balance shortening blend or margarine instead of butter. If using Earth Balance for a frosting, so you may need a little less or more icing sugar. Just make sure the frosting is not soft and will hold its shape when piping.


1 1/4 cup (2 1/2 sticks) butter, unsalted and at room temperature (not melted) or for Vegan: 1 1/4 cup stick margarine or Earth Balance
3 cups confectioner’s powdered icing sugar (sifted)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tablespoon Wilton clear vanilla extract

Optional: 1 tablespoons heavy cream (or for Vegan: almond milk)

Wilton violet gel food coloring

Wilton Yellow Sugar Pearl Sprinkles

Wilton 2D Piping Tip and Wilton Disposable Frosting Bags

8″ round cake board



With the mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy, pale in color. This should take anywhere from 3-5 minutes.

Turn the mixer to low and gradually add 3 cups confectioner’s sugar. Beat on low until it is incorporated, then turn the mixer to medium speed and mix well to blend.

Add vanilla extract, salt. Add cream if necessary. Mix well for 3 minutes until frosting is light and fluffy. Beat in Violet Gel food coloring, about 1/16-1/8 tsp, depending on the tint you wish to have for your flowers.


I found this recipe worked to make the perfect consistency of icing, just as written. You want a fairly thick frosting for the flowers on the sides of the cake to stay adhered. If necessary, add a wee bit of the cream, but I didn’t find I needed it at all.

I’ve been reading about those tiny air holes in icings. I believe they can be minimized if you keep your mixer on the lowest speed when adding the icing sugar to the butter.

( frosting recipe Adapted from Sweet Savory LIfe )

Great Vegan Frosting Tips can be found on this website: veganbaking.net


Place one cake layer, top side down, on a 8″ round cake board that has a little smear of frosting on it so the cake won’t move when you ice it. Spread frosting on top then place the second layer right side up on top of the bottom layer. Spread frosting on top then add the final, third layer, right side up on the bottom two layers.

Using an off-set spatula, spread a thin crumb coat over all three layers, top and sides. Put the cake into the fridge to set.

Fit your pastry bag with a Wilton 2D Petal Tip. Scoop the Violet colored icing into the bag and twist the top tight or fasten with an elastic. With the tip lightly touching the icing, hold the bag with both hands at a 90 degree angle to the cake top. Turn your right hand (if right handed) completely as far as you can to the left. Squeeze and as you pipe the flower, spin your right hand around to the right as far as you can go. Repeat until you have a few flowers made. The heat from your hands can soften your icing, to fix this just put your pastry bag into the fridge and let the frosting firm up again.

I’ve had a few questions regarding how to make these swirl drop flowers, click here for a great video that shows you how. Remember you need the 2D Wilton Tip. Right after she shows the star flower, she demonstrates the technique for making a swirl flower. That’s all I did to make my flowers. I used the yellow candy pearls for my flower centers:

Using tweezers, push one yellow pearl in the center of each pansy then continue to make pansies, stopping to add the yellow centers every now and then. Continue until you have covered your cake with pansies. If needed, you can go back and add a pansies here and there to fill.


Keep refrigerated until serving. The height of this cake made it impossible to transport with my cake carrier lid on.. it squished the top flowers. So I cut a square piece of rubber kitchen shelf liner and set in on the bottom half of the cake carrier, then put the cake on that and held it on my lap to ensure it didn’t slide while driving. Oh.. and have someone else drive the car:D The rubber shelf liner is great when icing a cake on a turntable as well, it keeps the cake in place as you turn/spin and frost. The turntable I use can be found at Michaels hobby shop and the rubber kitchen shelf liner can be found at London Drugs or online.

Pansy Cake 1


Love, Smidge

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