Ombre St. Patrick's Day Cake with Coconut {Vegan}

This is truly a "special occasion" cake. It's rich, but St. Patrick's Day only comes once a year, right? While this cake is stunning all white, we've given it that Irish touch of green using spinach as a natural food colorant. Yes, spinach ... but you cannot taste it at ALL in the cake. Of course, you can always omit it and use food coloring as we did with the coconut, if you prefer. This is a moist, dense cake which lends itself well to stacking and frosting. We used small cake pans, about 6" to create this cake, but you could certainly use two of the traditional 8" pans.
Author Veg Life Staff


  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray
  • Parchment Paper
  • Three 6” Cake Pans or two 8"
  • 2 C Almond or Soy Milk
  • 2 tsp Apple Cider or white Vinegar
  • 2/3 C Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Tbl Vanilla Extract
  • 6 oz. fresh Spinach leaves
  • 1-1/2 C vegan Sugar
  • 2 C All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 Tbl Cornstarch
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ¾ vegan Margarine such as Earth Balance
  • ¾ Vegetable Shortening
  • 3-1/2 C Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Tbl Vanilla Extract


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare three 6” round cake pans with cooking spray. Trace the bottom of the cake pan and cut rounds of parchment to fit into the bottom of the pan.
  • Measure 2 cups of Almond (or Soy) Milk and add 2 tsp of vinegar. Let sit for at least 5 minutes. We are creating a vegan buttermilk here. It will foam and curdle a bit and this is what we are looking for.
  • Now for the secret ingredient :)
  • If you guessed, are correct! Don't worry. You will not taste it in the final product at all. This is just used for natural food coloring. Feel free to omit it all together and use food coloring if you prefer.
  • In a high speed blender, add the oil and vanilla along with the buttermilk mixture and the spinach leaves. If you are not using spinach, just add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients as you would normally. We just use the liquid ingredients here to help puree the spinach.
  • Process until the spinach has been completely pureed with the liquid.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the sugar. To this, add the pureed mixture. Mix for a few minutes. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Mix with the wet ingredients until well incorporated. Pour into prepared baking pans, dividing evenly. I used a kitchen scale, but don’t worry if you don’t have one. Just get as close as you can. We’ll be trimming them flat later.
  • Bake for 18-25 minutes (this will depend on your oven). Mine took almost the entire time. Allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes and remove to a wire rack to cool completely, peeling away the parchment paper.
  • In three small bowls, divide evenly the coconut. Leave one natural. To the second bowl, add 1-2 drops of green food color. To the third bowl, add 3-4 drops of the food color. Use a spoon (or disposable kitchen glove) to mix thoroughly. Do not use bare hands or you will be green for a week :) Set aside.
  • To prepare the frosting, add the room temperature margarine and the shortening to the bowl of an electric mixer. Blend for 2 minutes or so. Add the confectioner’s (powdered) sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer to high and blend for 2 minutes. It should be light and fluffy. If it is too thick to be easily spreadable, you can add a tablespoon of almond or soy milk. If it is too thin, add just a bit more of the powdered sugar.
  • Most likely, your cakes will bake with a slightly domed or rounded top. We want a level cake so they stack well. To do this, use a sharp serrated knife to level off the top of the cakes so they will lie flat.
  • Before placing the first layer on the cake stand, add a few strips of parchment. This will keep the cake stand clean while we frost and add the coconut.
  • Add the first layer and frost.
  • Repeat with the other two layers. Swirl up the top a bit, as this won’t have coconut.
  • The sides do not need to be so perfect as they will be covered. Starting at the bottom, press the darkest color coconut into the cake. Then the medium color and finally, the natural color creating that ombre effect.
  • It's a little (ok, alot :) messy. I placed a cookie sheet underneath to catch the coconut that doesn't stick. Makes for easy cleanup later.
  • Allow to set for at least an hour before cutting.