Vegan Barley Flour Chocolate Cake & Royal Icing Decorations

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(from 1 review)
Vegan Chocolate Cake

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Course 2 of Wilton's Cake Decorating series concentrates more on flowers and especially flowers made with royal icing. What is different about royal icing? Royal icing does not use any fat (butter/shortening). It's just a combination of confectioner's sugar, meringue powder and water. Unlike buttercream icing, royal icing creates hard-drying and long lasting decorations. This means you can make these decorations ahead of time (even months ahead) and simply place them on your cake. Another interesting feature of royal icing decorations is that it will not soften or crumble when stored properly. It should not be kept in bright light, as colors can fade. Just like buttercream icing, consistency of royal icing is very important. Another item used in royal icing decorations is the Color Flow mix. This again has egg whites posing a problem to vegetarians and vegans.

I was searching the net for egg-free royal icing recipes and spotted few but was not sure how it would work. One of my classmates mentioned that her vegetarian friend used cream of tartar to replace the meringue powder. I couldn't decide which one to choose. Luckily I found a vegan royal icing mix in the store (Bulk Barn) I take the course. It's just icing sugar and soy protein and I had to simply add a 1/4 cup of water and beat it well. It's from a company called Liberty Sugar Decorations Inc. You can find such mixes online too. I have not tried this brand. The brand of royal icing mix I bought worked very well. The roses I made were as good as the ones made by others. I also omitted the Color Flow mix while filling a few decorations and that turned out good too.

Vegan Chocolate Cake Roses

Is royal icing better or buttercream icing? Since royal icing hardens it cannot be used to frost on cakes, even though it is edible. It is used as a glue while making gingerbread houses, decorated on cookies and for other long lasting decorations. Taste-wise buttercream icing gets my vote, but if you want to have a spectacular visual presentation royal icing is good. I didn't like the taste of the flowers I made, it is just hardened sugar. Of course, children can't get enough of this. Another important thing to note is royal icing is high maintenance. The tips, decorating bags, the bowl in which you prepare the icing, the mixers and anything that comes in contact with royal icing has to be very clean and grease free. There is no excuse for this at all because even the slightest amount of grease will affect the texture of the royal icing and you won't be successful. So it is advised to have a separate set of tips, containers etc for preparing royal icing. If you use the same stuff you use for buttercream icing and don't clean it well the fat from this icing will affect the royal icing. So use a dishwasher and my instructor also suggested cleaning the tips, etc with vinegar before using it with royal icing.

We learned a lot of cool floral decorations in Course 2 but I did not get everything right. It requires a lot of practice. The following is the list of things we covered:

Using Buttercream:

Using Royal Icing:

Royal Icing

Vegan Chocolate Cake Roses


Vegan Barley Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe

Prep TimeCook TimeMakes
15 Mins30 MinsOne 8 inch cake
Vegan Barley Flour Chocolate Cake & Royal Icing Decorations
5.0 from 1 reviews
You would be surprised to know that this chocolate cake is vegan and made with barley flour.
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Whole Barley flour
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1/3 cup Canola Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 cup Cold Water
  1. Preheat the oven at 350F/180C for 15 minutes. Grease the pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray and line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the barley flour and stir together rest of the dry ingredients (sugar to cocoa powder) and create a well in the center.
  3. To the well add all the wet ingredients one by one. Mix until just combined. Don't over mix. It's OK to have some lumps.
  4. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Mine was done by 27 minutes. If baking cupcakes, check around 13-15th minute.
  5. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment paper on the sides of the pan and slowly invert the pan on a plate and the cake comes out perfect without sticking to the pan.
  6. Cool completely before frosting.
  1. I was crossing my fingers while the cake was baking. Though I did see a couple of recipes for chocolate cake using barley flour, I was not sure how this one will bake because I was not using eggs, unlike the other recipes. I have read that barley flour is not as glutenous as all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour. So I was absolutely surprised to see the cake because it had risen perfectly.
  2. I couldn't wait to taste the cake. Once I tasted the cake I was literally jumping in joy because it was very good. It didn't smell raw or it did not taste bitter or it did not have the grittiness of whole wheat flour. Of course, it did not replicate the taste of all-purpose flour but it was definitely good and way better than using whole wheat flour. So I think those who don't like the taste of whole wheat flour in baked goods can start experimenting with whole barley flour instead. I felt the cake was not sweet enough when I tasted it a couple of hours after baking but from the next day onwards I did not feel that. The sweetness was just right.
My Notes:
  1. I had to bake 2 layers of cake for my class. Since I was not sure if the cake would come out well using barley flour, I tried just one layer first. I simply stirred together the dry ingredients and proceeded as mentioned in the recipe. The cake rose beautifully just like the one I baked with all-purpose flour. I was able to see some unprocessed husks of the barley. So while baking the next layer I sifted the barley flour. I don't think we will be losing nutrition because of this since the residue on the sieve was very less.
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Vegan Chocolate Cake

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  1. vani

    i did buy the liberty icing mix from bulk barn in canada and thanks to my hubby for bringing it over from canada as he was on an offical trip last week… all the thanks goes to him and i started my second course and next week my instructor has told me to bring royal icing… so pls let me know how u used that royal icing powder and what is the procedure for that… i have to take to class this week of feb 14th.. pls let me know… thanksa lot… in advance.:)

    That’s great Vani. As I have mentioned in the post I used 1/4 cup of water for the entire packet. Just beat the mix with a hand held electric beater and once done store it properly covered because it dries up pretty fast.

  2. Sanjana

    Madhuram, your basket weave is superb! I adore your eggless baking, tips and techniques! You are truly an inspiration 🙂

    Thank you very much Sanjana.

  3. shibani

    Madhu, u are extremely talented. I love ur blog.

    Thank you very much Shibani.

  4. vani

    hi madhu,

    i did bake the cake of urs from the vegan white cake and it came out really welll.. tomorrow is my last class of wilton 1 class and i need to take an 8″ cake and i am planning to take it and also i have signed up for the wilton 2 and nice to read your post regarding royal icing, and hopefully i can find this royal icing mix in dallas here … thanks very much for ur info….


    You’re welcome Vani. All the best with the 2nd course too.

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  6. Dhanya

    The roses came out very nice. Will try the barley cake soon. Looks moist and delicious:).

    Thank you very much Dhanya. It means a lot coming from you, the pro.

  7. Sunshinemom

    I haven’t been trying out decorations of late as I am not able to get the same texture without dairy :cry:. Somehow it becomes too soft or melts away as I don’t use shortening. I tried cream of tartar last year but that didn’t work for me. Maybe I should try it again. Your decorations are looking beautiful, Madhu!

    Harini, I think it’s because of the temperature in India. You have to take the icing to the fridge back and forth.

  8. goofy

    Loved the recipe… just tried it yesterday and am overall satisfied. My cake was done in about 21 minutes, but i kept it in 5 minutes more and it was a bit dry on top so it broke. But, it was just a trial so nothing lost, but a lesson gained.

    really like other recipes i’m seeing on the site. hope to try some soon. thanks! 😛

    by the way, the decorations look great to the point you’d rather not cut/eat cake so as not to destroy lovely artwork.

    That was quick Goofy. Thanks for trying the recipe and for your lovely comment.

  9. Pavithra Kodical

    You are very creative.. For a vegetarian like me, this sounds great!!! Well decorated cake 🙂

  10. kavita


    I also had taken the wilton classes, but could not proceed to royal icing,since the meringue powder too has eggs and it does not work for me. can you possibly find out the replacement for meringue powder.


    Kavita, one of my friend in the class was mentioning that her friend used cream of tartar instead of meringue powder measure to measure. I have to try that. But I don’t think I’m going to try it any sooner because I really want to take a break for a while with the cake decorating stuff.

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  12. Bharti

    I’m so glad you found an egg free product for royal icing! I didn’t even bother with it once I knew that it had eggs. If I ever take that class again, I’ll keep this info in mind. Glad the barley flour is working well in the cakes.Looks really good.

    I too was really happy Bharti. Yes barley flour is really versatile.

  13. DK

    YOU are going to call me “PS” is it? Then what do I call YOU???

    Look who is talking 😯 ! Then I should probably call you PU – “Porumayin Utchakattam”!!! 😆

    Look at those flowers!

  14. Srivalli are really tempting us with so many wonderful looking cakes..and you know what Peddu just came here now and says he wants it right away…I said I will ask aunty to make it for you.. 😉

  15. Divya Vikram

    Very pretty frosting Madhu. And nice recipe with barley flour.

  16. Laksh

    Madhu, Been a while since I stopped by here though I catch all your posts on reader. The cakes look gorgeous!! Looks like the class is doing for you. Got to catch up on stuff. Will call soon.

    Thanks Laksh.

  17. deva

    love your blog. this recipe looks amazing!

  18. Tejal

    These are so awesome..can you adopt me, so I can eat these everytime you make it!!!! 😉

    Awww! that’s so sweet of you.</strong>

  19. P. Vasanthi

    Really Royal both cake and photographs.

    Thanks ma.

  20. Priya Sriram

    Hi Madhu,

    Absolutely stunning decoration!

  21. Soumya

    gorgeous looking cake…u r getting so good in those roses…perfect.Nice color combination and thanks so much for heads up on the course 2 as mine starts from next sunday and i am so looking forward for those.Thanks so much for all the tips, i shall be refering u more often now.

  22. Parita

    The cake looks simply superb madhu, your notes are very detailed and really helpful, kudos to you!

  23. Priya

    Such a beautiful cake,thanks for sharing so many things regarding icing and all..Seems u r enjoying ur Wilton classes..

  24. Champa

    Nice cake. Your roses have gotten very good. Looks like your leaf tip needs a little opening so that when you pipe leaves, they close at the end. I have stopped using these tips for leaves now after getting tip no. 358. This is the same that is used for making poinsettia which they teach in 3rd course. They make beautiful leaves.

    Champa, you are right. I don’t get the leaf tips perfectly. Will try 358. But we used 352 yesterday for the poinsettias. Thank you very much.

  25. Happy Cook

    I have been looking threough all your cakes and they all look so so beautiful. Looks like you are enjouing you cake decoration classes.