Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray (2) 8-inch cake pans with oil. I also put a small parchment paper circle in the bottom, to prevent sticking. Set aside.
Make the Vegan Buttermilk: Pour the soy milk into a measuring cup and stir in the apple cider vinegar. Set aside to curdle; this is your "buttermilk."
Add all the dry ingredients to a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine. If your cocoa powder is very clumpy, sift it into the bowl.
Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer), beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Now mix in the canola oil, applesauce, vanilla and white vinegar. Beat until smooth. Mix in the red dye (or beetroot powder.)
With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternating with the "buttermilk", in about three additions, until just incorporated.
Divide the batter equally into prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let cool on wire racks for 5-10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges to loosen, and carefully invert the cakes onto your hand. Remove the parchment paper and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Once the cakes are completely cooled, evenly cover the first layer with cream cheese frosting. At this point I like to stick the first layer in the fridge for 10 minutes, to ensure the frosting firms up and won't cause the second layer to slip. Then place the second layer on top, and frost the cake as desired.
Keep this cake refrigerated until ready to serve, and any leftover cake in the fridge as well, as the frosting softens at room temperature. Alternatively, you could use Vegan Vanilla Frosting instead, if desired.
Calories listed are per 1/16th of the cake, with frosting. Amounts are approximate.
Feel free to substitute another non-dairy milk for soy, such as almond, cashew, oat, coconut or hemp milk.
For cupcakes, fill liners half full and bake for 20-25 minutes. The whole recipe will yield approximately 24 cupcakes.