What to Feed a Vegan Kiwi with City the NZ Cupcake Queen

By on Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Today I’m happy to bring you this Kiwi’s Guide to Vegan Cupcakes by City the NZ Cupcake Queen. Most of you are probably already familiar with City’s sweet cakes and her not-so-sweet Etsy shop, but did you know that she also happens to be a fab vegan baker? I asked my friend from the other side of the world to put together a sampler of what it’s like to be a vegan sweet tooth in New Zealand. All flattering statements about myself were totally unsolicited but deeply appreciated.

When my kickass friend and fellow cupcake baker Natalie asked me to write a piece for ATC’s vegan week I was super stoked. I love cupcakes- I love being a vegan and I love eating vegan cupcakes.

Plus, how could I say no to the lady who hooked me up with tickets to a Rise Against show and helped me meet the band who I had the bonus of giving my vegan cupcakes to? That lady is connected!

Thinking about what I could share with ATC readers really got me thinking about how my switch to a vegan lifestyle will affect my long-term love affair with cupcakes. I was the NZ Cupcake Queen before I was vegan,., so how about a brief history?

At the milestone of turning 30 I recently made the choice to go vegan after being a vegetarian for a large part of my 20’s. Over the past year I found myself eating less and less dairy products and eggs, which lead me to review my diet. Why couldn’t I commit to a vegan diet when I was pretty much eating vegan 99% of the time?

My answer? Not being able to eat my own cupcakes!

Those dainty, beautiful, tasty little cakes captured my attention 5 years ago and have grown to be a huge part of my life. As my love for cupcakes grew, so did my ability to bake and decorate. Soon I was actually making cupcakes that were not only delicious but looked pretty cool too (and less like a 3 year old decorated them!)

I started my NZ Cupcake Queen blog in 2007 and never looked back. I was surprised when my blog started to get fans other than my friends and co-workers. I was soon selling my cupcakes at craft shows and taking orders from people wanting MY cakes at their parties.

Changing to a fully vegan diet meant I had to give up eating my own cupcakes and reconsider how I went about my baking overall. It was a huge choice to make, but I had been experimenting with plenty of vegan cupcake recipes to realize that vegan doesn’t have to mean dry or tasteless cupcakes. It would be a change, but I wouldn’t miss out!

My commitment to a vegan diet has been a wonderful opportunity to explore a whole new world of vegan baking and learn simple but tasty ways to get around the traditional ingredients of butter, eggs and milk. Vegan baking is adventurous and fun.

While I have made the switch to a vegan diet, I am still making and selling some non-vegan cupcakes. Its a tricky situation – I’m personally moving away from traditional animal product-based baking and I have a goal of vegan-izing all the cupcakes I sell.

But its a very slow process experimenting with recipes and while I’m being all mad scientist in the kitchen doing so, the people who are fans of my cupcakes still want to buy them and love the flavours I make. I’m not about to be a jerk to the very people who’ve helped me build my reputation. So for now I am continuing to bake non-vegan flavours until I can replace them. I just can’t eat them myself.

OK, so that’s probably enough about the NZ Cupcake Queen. How about something useful like some tips, especially for the New Zealanders out there!


Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

There are plenty of awesome vegan cookbooks on the market but this one is much loved favourite of vegan and non-vegan cupcake lovers. Even before I was vegan, I got my hands on a copy when it first came out and was hooked. The recipes are amazing and Isa and Terry have a talent for creating delicious vegan cupcakes that are far from boring.

The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

This was a more recent discovery but it’s become my new kitchen bible. It covers all the possible questions I could come up with when it comes to vegan-izing baking and trust me, I’m one of those annoying people who asks LOTS of questions.

Both these books are helpful in getting you to think outside the square with baking and are a great jumping off point for you to head off on your own adventures in the kitchen and try out new flavours. Get your hands on a copy from your local bookseller, Amazon or other online store.

For those impatient people like me, while you wait for that Amazon order to ship, you can visit the My Vegan Kitchen blog. You’ll find an easy to read run down on some of the basic ingredients you’ll need to get you started baking vegan cupcakes.


Huckleberry Farms Wholefoods Supermarket

This is the place to go for tracking down lots of the ingredients used in vegan cupcake recipes. They sell many brands of Agave nectar (which is an excellent alternative to sugar in baking), egg replacers, ground flaxseed and tofu – just some of the clever ingredients you’ll soon be popping into your vegan cupcakes.

Other than being obsessed with cupcakes, I am also a chocolate addict and love chocolate cupcakes. Going vegan doesn’t mean missing out. Most dark chocolate is diary-free and vegan-friendly (although you do have to be careful of some companies like Cadbury who still sneak in milk solids). New Zealanders don’t have the luxury of the range of vegan-friendly chocolates available in America, but you can find the Australian Sweet William brand here.

They make pretty darn tasty and dairy free milk chocolate and white chocolate. I find Huckleberry Farms are the best place to track it down but you can find it at some regular supermarkets. If you’re lucky they sometimes have large packs of diary free white chocolate buttons or chips. And for those of you not in Auckland or just feeling lazy, you can even order via the website. Sweet!

S.A.F.E. Cruelty Free Shop

Another good place to pick up some vegan friendly chocolates and other supplies is the S.A.F.E. Shop in Auckland. I’ve heard from a couple of vegan friends that they’ve scored the large bags of Sweet William chocolate chips and buttons there too.


I’m lucky enough to have come across some awesome Kiwi bloggers who are not only rad vegans, but huge cupcake fans.

Friend or Doe

Ginny runs the wonderful boutique down in Wellington also has this little gem of a personal blog covering veganism, fashion and design. She’s a big fan of cupcakes so check out her recipe for white chocolate and cranberry vegan cupcakes.

An Auckland Vegan

I found Moira’s blog through Ginny and I am hooked. It’s been a wonderful resource as a fellow vegan Aucklander. Moira is always finding new vegan friendly treats to share with her readers. The highlight for me are her reviews of the cupcakes made by local cafe Revel!


146 Karangahape Rd, Auckland CBD

Speaking of Revel, head along to this lovely quirky little cafe to get your hands on one of their vegan cupcakes. They change the flavours every day so its just luck of the draw- which treat you’ll get. We popped in there today and got to try a delicious chocolate berry vegan cupcake. They always have vegan friendly items on the menu and a pretty decadent chocolate cake too!

NZ Cupcake Queen

And of course, I can’t do a vegan cupcake blog post on All Things Cupcake without doing a bit of shameless self-promotion! If you’re an Auckland vegan looking for moist, tasty vegan cupcakes with generous helpings of frosting, the NZ Cupcake Queen has what you need.

You can visit me at the Kraftbomb Craft Show on the last Sunday of every month at the Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn. 11am – 2pm. Be warned, the cupcakes sell out fast so be there early to avoid disappointment!

I always try to have a couple of vegan cupcake flavours each month and I’m working my way up to more and more of my most popular cupcakes being vegan-ized for your eating pleasure! The most popular vegan flavours with my vegan (and non-vegan!) customers are cookies and cream, peanut butter chocolate and good old plain chocolate! And hopefully I’ll have vegan versions of the other favourites like Jaffa, Red Bull and Caramel!

A big thanks to All Things Cupcake for asking me to do a post for their Vegan Week. I hope its inspired both vegans and non-vegans alike to have a go at making some vegan cupcakes and proven that going vegan doesn’t have to mean the death of cupcakes. So what are you waiting for? Get off your butt and get baking!

NZCQ xoxo