Ding Dong Cake Recipe

vegan ding dong cake decorated with flowers and butterflies

♫ Listening to: Ahead of the Curve by Monsters of Folk ♫

This vegan ding dong cake has 2 layers of fluffy chocolate cake separated by a thick layer of vanilla cream filling and covered entirely in dark chocolate ganache. This cake is so decadent that you’d never guess it’s lower in sugar than an average cake.

If you’re looking for an easy ding dong cake recipe, just follow the instructions for the cake assembly, but skip the extra decorations steps. Making the ding dong cake itself is pretty straightforward, but the butterfly and flower decorations take more time (you creative types will LOVE that part though).

This ding dong cake recipe makes a 2-layer 8” or 9” cake (12-24 servings).

Table of Contents

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Ingredients You’ll Need for your Ding Dong Cake

  • 2 cups (480ml/g) nondairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups (390g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (16g) baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (390g) raw, vegan, or organic sugar*
  • ½ cup (45g) cocoa powder
  • ⅔ cup (144g/160ml) safflower or sunflower oil
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) vanilla extract

How to Make a Ding Dong Cake

prep time: 22min | bake time: 35min

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175º C).

Oil both of your 8” or 9” round cake pans with whatever oil you’re using in your vegan cake recipe. I usually use sunflower or safflower oil because they’re both made for high heat.

Cut circles out of parchment paper that are the exact size and shape of your cake pans and set them in the bottoms of the cake pans. If you don’t have parchment paper, you can skip this step. The purpose of the parchment paper is just to help the cakes come out of the cake pans more easily.

Combine the 2 cups (480ml/450g) nondairy milk with 1 tablespoon (14g) apple cider vinegar and set aside to let it turn into vegan buttermilk. If you use soymilk, I recommend buying organic or non-GMO. Buy the least expensive vegan milk you can find, because you can’t tell the difference when it’s in cake.

Measure or weigh the dry ingredients into a separate bowl: 3 cups (390g) flour, 2 teaspoons (16g) baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 cups (390g) vegan sugar, and ½ cup (45g) cocoa powder. Whisk it all together. If the nondairy milk I use is sweetened, I reduce the sugar measurement by 2 tablespoons.

Add 2 teaspoons (8g) vanilla extract and ⅔ cup (144g/160ml) oil to the vegan buttermilk you made.

Before you combine the wet and dry, make sure your oven is preheated to 350º. If it isn’t, do some kitchen cleanup while you wait. Once your oven is the right temp, proceed.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix them only until you can’t see any flour and until all the large lumps are gone, but don’t keep mixing beyond that point. If you’re using a stand mixer for this step, use the lowest speed and only mix for 15 seconds, stop and scrape the sides with a baking spatula and mix for another 15 seconds, at the most.

Lick the beater while your dog stares at you. This step is optional, but the batter is DELICIOUS, so it would be a waste to just rinse it down the drain. You can also lick your stirring utensil with nobody watching, but it somehow tastes better when someone else is coveting it.

Pour the chocolate cake batter into the round cake pans, dividing the batter as evenly as possible in each pan. Use a baking spatula to get as much batter as you can out of the bowl.

Bake the vegan chocolate cakes on the same rack on the oven (the one that’s most in the middle of the oven) for 34-39 minutes, depending on your oven. The cakes are ready when a toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean.

Remove the cakes from the oven and set them on cooling racks. After a few minutes, I often flip the cake pans upside down on the cooling rack, so that as they cool, the cakes will naturally fall out of the pans onto the cooling rack.

Cool the cakes completely for 2-3 hours, until when you touch them, they no longer feel warm. If you don’t have that kind of time, stick them in the freezer and they’ll cool much faster.

Remove cooled cakes from pans (if they haven’t fallen out on their own) by shimmying a baking spatula around the edges of the cake pans.

Wrap each vegan chocolate cake in cling wrap, and leave them in the fridge or freezer if you’re baking these cakes in advance of when you plan to assemble and decorate the cake. If they’ll be in the freezer for more than a couple of days, place the cakes in a ziplock freezer bag after wrapping them in plastic wrap.

Ingredients for the Ding Dong Filling Recipe

  • 5 tablespoons (40g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (220g) vegan or organic sugar
  • 1 cup (235g) non dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (110g) vegan butter or margarine, room temperature
  • ½ cup (96g) organic palm shortening, room temperature

How to Make the Vegan Cream Filling for the Ding Dong Cake

cooking time: 20min | prep time: 20min | chill time: 2hours+20min

Dollhouse Shortcut

To save time, make the flour pudding the night before so you don’t have to wait for it to cool on the day you make your ding dong cake.

Whisk 5 tablespoons (40g) of flour with 1 cup (220g) vegan sugar in a medium saucepan.

Turn the stove to medium.

Add 1 cup (235g) nondairy milk while whisking.

making the vegan cream filling

Continue whisking until it thickens to a pudding consistency. This takes me about 15 minutes.

Remove from the stove and transfer to a heat-safe dish.

Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down so that it touches the entire surface area of the goop.

Set aside until it’s completely cooled.

You can speed up the cooling by using a shallow dish, like a lasagna pan, rather than a deep bowl. You can also hurry this process by chilling the pudding in the fridge. I like to cool mine on the counter for 1 hour and then transfer it to the fridge for an hour. This helps keep the rest of my fridge food from warming up from the super hot dish entering the fridge. Wait for this to cool completely before continuing with the remaining steps.

making the vegan cream filling

Whisk ½ cup (96g) shortening and ½ cup (110g) vegan butter or margarine for 3-5 minutes, using a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.

Scrape the sides with a baking spatula, and mix for another minute.

Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and mix for another minute.

Add the cooled pudding, one spoonful at a time, whisking between each new addition.

Fill a piping bag fitted with wilton tip 1A. If you don’t have these items, you can use a ziplock bag or even just a produce bag from the store. If you reuse a produce bag, just make sure you wash and dry it first because you don’t want pieces of broccoli in your filling (we’re not that vegan).

making the vegan cream filling

Chill the ding dong filling for 15-20 minutes in the fridge.

Ingredients needed for the Chocolate Ganache Coating for the Cake

  • 1 cup (8oz/240ml/240g) canned coconut milk (full fat, not light)
  • 2 cups (12oz/340g) vegan chocolate chips

How to Make Chocolate Ganache for the Ding Dong Cake

prep time: 5-10 minutes | wait time: 30 minutes

Dollhouse Shortcut

Heat the coconut milk in the microwave to save time.

Heat 1 cup (8oz/240ml/240g) canned coconut milk on the stove until it starts to simmer. This should take less than 10 minutes.

Measure 2 cups (or weigh 12oz/340g) vegan chocolate chips into a heat-proof dish.

Remove the coconut milk from the stove when it starts to simmer and pour it over the chocolate chips.

Stir the chocolate ganache until smooth and melted.

making the vegan chocolate ganache

Cool the ganache for 15-30 minutes before pouring it over the cake. You want it to be room temperature.

Assembling the Ding Dong Cake

Cut the tops off the cakes to make them flat (this step is optional, but I did need to trim a very thin layer from both cakes).

Set the bottom cake layer onto your cake plate or cake board.

Pipe the cream filling onto the bottom cake layer, using a piping bag fitted with wilton tip 1A. (Or, you can use a produce or ziplock bag with a hole cut out of the corner or just spread a thick layer using an offset spatula or a butter knife).

Assembling the vegan chocolate ding dong cake

Chill the bottom half of the cake in the freezer for 10-20 minutes until the cream filling feels firm when you touch it.

Remove the cake from the freezer once the chocolate ganache is room temperature are you’re ready to finish your cake.

Add the top cake layer to the top of the filling layer.

Assembling the vegan chocolate ding dong cake

Fill in the gaps on the sides between the 2 cake layers with any leftover filling you have and smooth the sides using an offset spatula or a bench scraper. This step is optional but it will make the ganache drip down the sides more smoothly.

Pour the room temperature ganache onto the middle of the top of the cake. Keep pouring until it reaches the perimeter and starts to drip down the sides. Once it reaches your cake plate or cake board, you can stop pouring and start to smooth it over the naked spots on the sides of the ding dong cake.

Covering the vegan chocolate ding dong cake in chocolate ganache

Chill the cake until you’re ready to serve it or ready to decorate it further if you plan to.

If you want to decorate your ding dong cake to look like mine with flowers and butterflies, continue reading to see how I did that.

slice of vegan chocolate ding dong cake

Ingredients Needed for the Butterfly Garden Cake Decorations

Dollhouse Shortcut

You can purchase premade butterflies to save time on decorating (but making the butterflies was the most fun part in my opinion). See the substitutions section at the end of this recipe for a link to buy vegan edible butterflies.

How to Make the Buttercream Flower Decorations for the Ding Dong Cake

Decide how many colors of flowers you want, and divide the frosting into that number of bowls.

Color each bowl of frosting a different color using vegan food coloring. I used Wilton colors for mine.

Prepare a piping bag with wilton tip 1M.

Fill the piping bag with 2 colors of frosting that go well together. I like to use colors that are near each other on the color wheel so it looks more like a naturally occurring flower in nature. But you can use whatever colors your heart desires.

Pipe flowers onto parchment paper and then gently transfer them to the freezer to harden. You can add a small square of parchment paper to a flower nail if you have one. If you don’t have a flower nail (I don’t), you can make a DIY one. Just cut a small square of cardboard and poke a toothpick into the center. Then add a dab of hot glue to secure it.

Place the frozen buttercream flowers gently onto the cake once the ganache has set.

How to Make the Rice Paper Butterfly Decorations for the Ding Dong Cake

Print out or draw a butterfly that you like.

Slip the printout or drawing under a silicone mat.

a silicone mat with the picture of a butterfly showing through

Dip a piece of rice paper into a pie pan of water, and leave it in the water until you start to see the edges curl up.

Remove the softened rice paper from the water, and set it on the silicone mat over the butterfly. Smooth out any wrinkles.

Preparing the rice paper for painting

Mix vegan food coloring with water, the same way that you would with watercolor paints. I used a 10:1 ratio of water to food coloring on mine I think.

Paint the rice paper whatever colors you like using food-safe paint brushes. I started off by making each butterfly one single color. Then, as I gained confidence, I started blending colors together in one butterfly.

Paint the thinner lines using a small paint brush dipped in black food coloring.

Trace the outline of the wings and the body of your butterfly. I also used black to make markings on my butterflies wings, but I imagine you could do that with any color.

rice paper painted with a butterfly

Cut out your butterfly using an exacto knife. I use this swivel exacto knife because it’s super easy to use and is quite precise. If you don’t have an exacto knife, you can bake the entire piece of rice paper, and use scissors to cut it after it comes out of the oven. But, I warn you that this is more difficult. The rice paper tries to stick to everything when you’re cutting it, including the scissors and your hands.

cutting out the butterfly using a swivel exacto knife

Peel the parts of the rice paper that you trimmed away from the butterfly before baking. I just composted mine, but if you’re creative, maybe you can find a use for yours.

Peeling away the pieces of rice paper that I trimmed off

Place the silicone mat with the rice paper butterfly on it onto a baking sheet and bake it for 10 minutes on the lowest setting your oven will go. I baked mine at 170ºF.

rice paper butterfly ready to bake

Make a tent out of a piece of cardstock by folding it in half lengthwise. If you don’t have cardstock, look for some old birthday cards or holiday cards someone sent you that you haven’t thrown away yet. You can use those.

Tape a piece of parchment paper over the card tent you made (fold the parchment paper first so it lays nicely on the card).

Remove the butterfly tray from the oven and set it on a cooling rack.

Wait a minute for the silicone mat to be cool enough to lift it off the pan.

Set the silicone mat near your card tent, and slowly and gently peel the butterfly off of the mat.

Drape the butterfly over the tented card, trying to align the center of the butterfly with the fold.

the process of transferring the butterfly from the silicone mat to the tented card

Leave it to harden the rest of the way while you make your next butterfly.

Each butterfly took me about 10-15 minutes of prep time and 10 minutes to bake.

the completed dried rice paper butterflies

Store them in a tupperware until you’re ready to place them on your cake. They’ll stay good for up to 3 weeks in an airtight container.

My cake had a 2-hour road trip planned, so I took my butterflies in a container and then put them on the cake when I arrived. Otherwise, the cake wouldn’t have fit in my cake carrier, and the butterflies might have fallen off on the journey anyway.

the completed vegan ding dong cake decorated with flowers and butterflies

If you make this ding dong cake, snap a pic, post to instagram, and tag me @vegandollhouse. I love to see your creations! You can also message me through instagram or email me if you have any questions about the recipe. I’m not as quick to reply to email as I am to instagram, so if your question is time sensitive, I recommend instagram.

Frequently Asked Questions about this recipe

What is a ding dong?

A ding dong is a mini cake that was made by Hostess like 100 years ago. I took this concept and just made it bigger (and better) for this recipe. Read more about ding dongs here.

Why didn’t my cakes rise?

If your cakes don’t look as tall as mine, there’s a chance they didn’t rise properly in the oven. There can be a few explanations for this. One is that you forgot to add baking soda or didn’t add enough. Baking soda also expires, so there’s a chance that your baking soda is old. The other rising agent in this recipe is vinegar. Did you remember to add vinegar?

One last thing that can prohibit a cake from rising properly is if you open the oven door while it’s baking. This is very important. You never want to open your oven door while you’re baking, especially not in the first two-thirds of the baking time. That’s why they started making ovens with windows in them, so that you can check on your cakes without opening the door.

Does ding dong cake need to be refrigerated?

Yes. The cream filling is very delicate. It needs to remain chilled or it gets too soft.

How do I store this cake?

I usually make my cakes in advance since they often take a whole day or more to make and decorate. I actually spent 2 days making this cake: I baked the cakes and made my butterflies and flowers the first day. I made the cream filling and chocolate ganache and assembled and decorated the cake the next day.

Here’s a little cheat sheet for storing this cake after you make it but before you serve it.

  • 1 day in advance: you can store the (uncut) cake in the fridge uncovered, because the ganache coating acts as a barrier to protect the cake from drying out
  • up to 1 week in advance: you can store the (uncut) cake in the fridge or freezer uncovered or in a cake carrier
  • up to 3 months in advance: freeze the (uncut) cake until it hardens to the touch. Then wrap it completely in cling wrap to keep it from drying out or taking on any weird freezer smells. Move it from the freezer to the fridge a day before you want to serve it, but don’t remove the cling wrap until 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve it.

Can you freeze ding dong cake?

Sure! I usually store my leftover cake in a tupperware in the fridge for up to 1 week. If you don’t plan to eat the leftover cake within a week, you can wrap the individual slices in cling wrap before placing them in a freezer ziplock bag and storing them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Or just bring it to my house. I’ll teach you how to eat a 12-serving cake in 5 days or less.

Can I convert this ding dong cake recipe into a small ding dong recipe?

Sure! I haven’t made small ding dongs yet, but I would pour all the batter into a 9x13” oven-safe pan and once it’s baked, use biscuit cutters to cut out the size of ding dongs you want. In the future, if I make them, I will offer specific ding dong recipe changes for making minis instead of the biggie.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • I recommend using safflower, sunflower, or coconut oil for baking cakes because those oils are made for high heat, which helps you avoid transfats. However, you can use any other oil such as vegetable oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, etc. People even make cakes with olive oil, but I don’t recommend it.
  • If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you can replace it with lemon juice, lime juice, or white vinegar. You just need some sort of acid to interact with the alkalinity of the baking soda to make the cake rise.
  • If you don’t have access to vegan shortening, you can replace it with additional vegan butter or margarine. My favorite is the organic whipped Earth Balance, but if you avoid soy, you can buy the soy-free Earth Balance. If you do this, your filling will be less stable at room temperature, so you should keep it in the fridge right up until you’re ready to serve it.
  • If you don’t have the full amount of nondairy milk that the cake part of the recipe requires, you can substitute 1:1 with water, coffee, or nondairy creamer. You can also mix and match different nondairy milks. I do this a lot when my macadamia milk only has a little bit left at the bottom and I use it up, and then I open a new container of almond, oat, or soymilk.
  • If you prefer to use whole grain flours, replace the white flour in this recipe with cake flour, wheat flour, spelt flour, or whole wheat pastry flour. It will taste healthier with some of these flours though.
  • For the sugar in the cake portion of the recipe, you can use any number of sugars, as long as they’re vegan: brown sugar, sucanat, coconut sugar, raw sugar, organic sugar, or demerara. If you’re not sure if your sugar is vegan, you can contact the company and ask, but basically, just avoid conventional white sugar or granulated sugar, and you should be ok.
  • If you don’t have time to make your own butterflies, you can also buy these vegan edible butterflies.

If you like this ding dong recipe, you might also like my twinkies recipe and my chocodiles recipe.

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* I use mostly organic ingredients when I cook, but I realize that not everyone has the disposable income to purchase all organic ingredients. Therefore, I only specify organic on the ingredients that really matter - when buying the organic (or non-GMO) version is the only way to ensure that the item is vegan.

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