Mandaylynn Fleshman is one of a growing group of bakers across Maine making and selling vegan cakes. Her motivation?

“It breaks my heart to think about a kid without a birthday cake,” Fleshman said. “I want to make sure we have something for everyone who comes through the door.”

Fleshman, who is vegan, bakes at Scattoloni Bakery in Portland’s Monument Square, where she’s made vegan cakes for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. She also ensures that the display case is stocked with at least two types of vegan cupcakes and often other vegan treats, too, such as chocolate mousse cups (made with aquafaba), chocolate-cherry cake bomb truffles, chia spiced shortbread and coconut-orange date balls.

Raegamuffin’s Gluten Free Bakery in Veazie made this vegan unicorn cake for a little girl’s birthday party. Inside is a marble cake and the frosting is vegan vanilla. Courtesy of Raegamuffin’s

“The vegan community is really adventurous,” Fleshman said, a quality that gives her license to try unusual flavor combinations and new types of treats. (The bakery also makes vegan soups and a baked vegan meatball hot pocket.)

Scattoloni’s is in good company. Other Portland bakeries and retailers that sell vegan cakes include Local Sprouts Cooperative, Love Cupcakes, The Black Tie Company, Bam Bam Bakery, Silly’s, Lois’ Natural Marketplace, Portland Food Co-op and Whole Foods Market.

But vegan cakes aren’t just a Portland thing. They are coming out of the oven at bakeries across the state. It’s a trend fueled by two factors: more people eating vegan, and more people avoiding dairy products and eggs due to allergies and intolerances. This availability of vegan cakes is a marked change from even a few years ago.

Kelly Mathes owns Confectionately Yours, a custom-order cake business in Presque Isle. She started offering vegan cakes four years ago in response to “an influx of people asking for them,” especially moms of young children, she said. “I’ve had a lot of moms ask me for first birthday cakes that are allergy-friendly.”

Mathes said birthdays are the top occasion for vegan cake orders, but she’s made a few vegan wedding cakes, too. All of her classic cakes come in vegan versions, including the white chocolate, lemon, marble and pumpkin spice flavors.

A vegan chocolate wedding cake from Confectionately Yours in Presque Isle features blueberry compote and vegan vanilla buttercream. Photo courtesy of Confectionately Yours

Raegamuffin’s Gluten Free Bakery in Veazie has offered vegan cakes since it opened five years ago.

“Everything we offer, we can do vegan,” owner Rachel Lane said. “Every day we have at least one vegan muffin and a vegan pastry in the case. We have a couple different breads that are vegan. We also do vegan brownies and cupcakes.”

And while Mathes in Presque Isle makes lots of vegan birthday cakes, Lane said graduation season is Raegamuffin’s busiest time for vegan cake orders since the bakery is near the University of Maine, Orono, and other colleges. The most popular vegan cake flavor is chocolate.

Lane estimates half of the requests for vegan cakes are for children with allergies, the other half for vegans – a customer base that spikes when college is in session, she said. Raegamuffin’s also sells vegan cookies, cinnamon buns, berry bars and pies – all of which are vegan except pumpkin.

This chocolate cheesecake with a cacao nibs garnish comes from Slice of Heaven in Portland. K. Kastelic photo

In Portland, a business launched in September takes vegan cakes to another level. Slice of Heaven, based at the Fork Food Lab, makes raw, vegan cheesecakes from such ingredients as protein-packed hemp seeds, cashews, sea moss and coconut butter. “I use hemp seeds for their nutritional quality,” said Slice of Heaven owner Jennifer Kastelic.

Kastelic started making the cheesecakes after one of her children contracted Lyme disease, and she discovered that eating raw, plant-based foods alleviated many of the symptoms. Her cheesecakes became such a hit with friends and family, she started taking special orders. Now in addition to custom orders, Kastelic is making grab-and-go retail packs of four mini-cheesecakes (chocolate, blue raspberry, lemon ginger and pink peppermint) and selling them at Lois’ Natural Marketplace, the Portland Food Co-op and Atlantic Farms Gas Station & Medical Marijuana Store.

Chocolate-strawberry vegan cake made at Scattoloni Bakery in Portland. Photo courtesy of Scattoloni Bakery

Taken together, all these vegan cakes represent a major shift in the state’s bakery landscape. When my husband and I got married 14 years ago in Portland, we couldn’t find a single baker in the city who made special order vegan cakes. Thankfully, Mary Ledue Paine, the owner of the now shuttered veg-friendly Pepperclub, took pity on us and baked us one of the restaurant’s signature vegan chocolate cakes.

Now I can walk in any direction from my house in downtown Portland and treat myself to a slice of vegan cake.

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

Twitter/AveryYaleKamila


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