Vegan Peanut Butter & Jelly Cake
4.55 from 11 votes

This vegan peanut butter & jelly swirl snack cake looks beautiful and tastes like the most indulgent PB&J you’ve ever had! It’s easy to make, and kids love it.

A fluffy, freshly cut slice of plated vegan peanut butter and jelly snacking cake.

Once upon a time, I was placed in charge of the internship program at the publishing house where I worked. Our interns did a lot: they read through piles of manuscripts, giving us early feedback on the work and whether it might fit onto our list of titles. They pitched in with the process of transmitting paper manuscripts to production, which at the time was somewhat painstaking (I wonder if it’s all done electronically now?). They handled correspondence and made phone calls and were eager to help out in any way they could.

In spite of how capable and energetic our interns were, I remember that hosting them was a lot of work. By the time I’d trained them to do what they needed to do, we were often a good many weeks into the semester. It was my first experience of being in a teacher/mentor role. And it showed me how demanding that role can be.

In the last 15 weeks, I have been mentored and taught—precepted, it’s called in the world of dietetics—by 6 incredible RDNs. They answered my many questions, only some of which, I know, were intelligent. They humored me when it took me a while to catch onto procedures. They worked with me to formulate and edit countless PES statements (that’s problem, etiology, and signs/symptoms), carefully showing me the difference between etiology and evidence. They checked my math on tube feeding calculations and pushed me to keep practicing.

Each one of these dietitians went above and beyond overseeing my work. They all took the time not only to delegate tasks, but also to teach me, sharing knowledge and insight into clinical practice that will stick with me always. And they did so uniquely, each according to his or her own style and clinical interests.

I haven’t had a chance to do any holiday baking until the last few days, the DI being what it is. But I did make a pretty delicious snack cake on Saturday, and if I could, I’d bring a slice to each of my preceptors as a way of showing my appreciation for the time they’ve given me.

To be honest, I made this cake because it’s something I’ve wanted to make for a while now and for the following reasons:

  1. Cake is my favorite dessert, and snack cake—which is just what I call it when I bake it in a large, rectangular pan and turn to slices as a late afternoon treat—might be my favorite kind.
  2. I love peanut butter.
  3. I also love jelly/jam.

But there are some reasons why it feels appropriate as a virtual token of appreciation for my preceptors, too. It’s just sweet and rich enough to be very much a dessert, but there are some nutrient bonuses, including whole wheat pastry flour and healthful fats from the nut butter. So far, my impression of clinical dietitians is that they understand the importance of snacks (they spend lots of hours on their feet, rounding and seeing patients) and snack often. And, while I’m sure they’re out there, I have yet to meet an RDN who doesn’t love peanut butter.

The whole “swirl” thing sounds complex, but the cake is actually really easy. The base batter is dense, and once you pop it into a baking dish, you cover it with some raspberry jam (or any flavor you like) and simply use a spatula to swirl the jam around. That’s all there is to it.

Once the cake bakes, it has a rich texture, an amber color, and a beautiful top that’s covered in deep red swirls. The slices, which also resemble snack bars, taste like the sweetest and most indulgent PB & J ever, and eating it all weekend has convinced me that there is no cake frosting better than some tasty fruit jam. The cake is a treat to look at and a treat to eat—especially with a cup of afternoon tea. Here’s the recipe.

Cut squares of a PB&J inspired snacking cake, with swirls of jam on top.

A fluffy, freshly cut slice of plated vegan peanut butter and jelly snacking cake.
4.55 from 11 votes

Vegan Peanut Butter & Jelly Swirl Snack Cake

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 12 slices


  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached, all-purpose flour (300g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup peanut butter (substitute sunflower seed butter)
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter (56g), melted, or vegetable oil (60mL)
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup raspberry or strawberry jam


  • Preheat your oven to 350. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking dish or jelly roll pan (you can also use 12 x 8 dish/pan).
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the applesauce, peanut butter, brown sugar, vegan butter or oil, non-dairy milk, and vanilla. Add these wet ingredients to the dry and mix until they’re evenly incorporated. The batter will be on the thick side. Pour it into the prepared baking dish and use a spatula or inverted spatula to spread it around evenly. Dot the jam in big spoonfuls on top, then use your spatula to swirl everything around. It doesn’t have to be neat! Have fun.
  • Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top of the cake is firm and the edges are lightly golden. Allow the cake to cool for at least 3 hours before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
An overhead photo of a small dessert plate with a slice of vegan peanut butter jelly swirl cake.

Among other things I’m feeling grateful for on this quiet Christmas, I’m so lucky to have had wonderful teachers this semester: empathic, intelligent, insightful, food- and body-positive teachers. My future work will be so much stronger for their guidance and training, and I can’t thank them enough. If they were reading, though, I’d try:

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And thank you, everyone who’s tuning in on this Christmas Eve of 2018. I wish you all peace, joy, and cake.


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Categories: Cakes, Snacks
Method: Oven
Dietary Preferences: Vegan
Recipe Features: Meal Prep

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Recipe Rating

  1. Me again!
    …do you used sweetened peanut butter that has palm oil or all natural, nothing but peanuts pb?

    Thanks again! Cany wait to make this!

    • Hi Sab!

      For your first question, I would recommend a gluten-free, all-purpose flour blend—specifically one that has alternative flours and also starches for binding. I like the Measure for Measure blend from King Arthur Baking and also the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 baking flour. I do not recommend using a single-ingredient GF flour (for example, only almond flour, only chickpea flour, or only brown rice flour). The all-purpose blends have better results in vegan baking.

      For the peanut butter, I typically use one that’s blended with some oil and/or a little sugar and salt. My favorite is PB & Co Smooth Operator. The most important thing is a smooth texture. You can try using a natural peanut butter if you like, but in that case, I’d recommend the smoothest version you can find. Pic’s Peanut Butter Smooth is a good option.

      I hope that you enjoy!

  2. Hello, I’d like to make this GF for a friend. Has anyone tried making this with GF flour? If so, which kind/ratio?
    I don’t have much experience using alternate flours and don’t want to mess this up.
    Thank you!

  3. Hi there,

    What’s the precise measurement for vegan butter / veg oil please? The recipe states ‘4 T’ – is this tablespoons?

    Thanks! Taz

  4. I made this to take on an out-of-isolation hike with my grandson (we are not in US). I once made him PB&J Vegan ice cream and he said it was the best ice cream he ever had, so this seemed like a fun portable sub! I know the batter is supposed to be thick, but I was uncomfortable with just how dense it was so I added a bit more soy milk to make it more spreadable. I used apricot jam on half and cherry preserves on half. It came out really really nice, not too dense and definitely not very sweet. It had a soft, moist texture. Definitely would make it again! Thanks.

    • So glad you enjoyed it! I’ll have to check the consistency of the batter the next time I make it, just to be sure it’s right. Happy hiking 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    I loved this one. I eat it this week for breakfast – I prefer sweet breakfasts – and so reduced sweetening by almost two thirds. Still sweet enough for me, and delicious. The jam I used is Rosa Canina, which I got in Italy and it being organic, I needed to use lots in a short time, so your recipe came in handy. It has a subtle flavour, on the sweet side, and it worked well here. Thanks for the recipe, Gena.

  6. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for the recipe! I made it for my boyfriend’s birthday and he loved it! His very critical mother loved it too:))

  7. 5 stars
    Thank you for this great recipe, Gena! I loved this fine combination of products and made this meal a few days ago. It turned out perfect and my family loved this!

  8. Hello Gena, This looks delicious. I will definitely be making it soon :). Cake is my favourite thing, too, and I love peanut butter and jelly (or jam, as we call it here), both together and alone.
    Merry Christmas, and thank you for your thoughtful words this year.
    Stay well.
    Rebecca xo

  9. This looks delicious! Is there anything I could use in place of apple puree as my little bro is allergic?
    Merry Christmas 🙂

    • Sure! Prune purée (I just get the stuff sold as baby food—it works!) or you could try pumpkin 🙂

  10. Gena, I love this post and recipe of appreciation–and I, too, love peanut butter and jelly! And I love YOU too! A very Merry Christmas, my friend! xoxo

  11. I’m assuming the peanut butter would get mixed in with the wet ingredients? It’s missing from the recipe. Looks delicious!