The Vegan Challenge; Cake stories

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Last week was kind of busy. We had a birthday party and a baby shower type thing going on and I willingly volunteered to bring cake, or something. I decided to give myself a bit of a challenge and make a vegan cake. If all went well then I’d make TWO vegan cakes, but after searching the internet for a recipe that didn’t require me to soak, puree anything (or a trip to a fancy expensive all organic grass-fed shmancy place). It took a while, but I found one and actually it didn’t require me to spend any money because the recipe called for things I already had. (Score!).

So here you have it, a vegan recipe for chocolate cake;

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour **
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 cup water

**It turned out that I didn’t have all-purpose flour, so I substituted Cake Flour instead. I think this may have changed things a bit but I won’t really know until I try to make it again with regular flower. All in all though it wasn’t half bad, the only complaint I have with this recipe is that it really only makes enough batter for one 9″ round cake pan. I had originally planned to make a two layer cake and when all was said and done it turned out to be a small cake. Because of this I thought it’d be better to just make this for home – so I whipped together some chocolate ganache and covered that baby up!

imageSince I decided to keep this one for the house I had to make another one, only this time it wouldn’t be vegan because I used up all of my cake flour. Did you know that a lot of cake mixes are vegan? Neither did I, until I did some reading. I went into the pantry and found a box of chocolate cake mix, opted to substitute the eggs with a mixture of baking powder, vinegar and water. Everything seemed to be going according to plan, until I realized 45 minutes in that the oven had turned off and was ice-cold. (Doh!) Needless to say I didn’t take a cake to work that next morning, much to the disappointment of my coworkers. So that meant someone had to go out and buy store-bought cupcakes. I realize now that I really do love homemade things over store-bought.

imageWhen I got home that evening I had to do it all over again, provided the oven decided to actually work. Thankfully it did. This time I decided to just make the whole thing from scratch (I ended up picking up more cake flour). Unfortunately this one was not (at all) Vegan. I was reminded how amazing this recipe is and that I should use it more often.

So here you have it, the Swan’s Down 1-2-3-4 Cake;

3 cups Swans Down Cake Flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

I kind of goofed on this and put the flour in with the eggs, prior to mixing in the eggs. The batter turned out to be a bit grainy since I mixed in the eggs at the wrong time, but from what I can tell it didn’t make that huge of a difference. I also omitted the Almond extract simply because I didn’t have any.

 wpid-20140402_193442.jpgSince this was for a baby shower type event I decided to try to make a zebra cake (with blue batter instead of black). I don’t think I’ve ever used food coloring for a cake, so it was interesting. Unfortunately once it was cooked the blue looked more like green and the plain looked more yellow than white. Which makes me wonder wth people put in cake batter to make it so white. Maybe no egg yolks? Butter isn’t that bad, especially when whipped with sugar. I’ll have to look into that for future experiments.

Since I had the left over cake from the night before (which my amazing mother was able to cook while I was at work), I decided to turn that into cake balls. I’d never made those, more because I just didn’t want to and I thought it was harder than it actually is. It’s not hard, by the way, and I encourage people to try it. Luckily the cake I had was pretty moist so I didn’t have to add in a ton of icing, if anything I think I added about a tablespoon of icing. The other reason that I never made cake balls is because any time I’ve eaten them they’ve been entirely way too sweet. Apparently this is one of the mistakes that people make, adding too much icing. I did have to remind myself to tell people that the cake itself was vegan, there was a bit of cream in the ganache. No one seemed to mind that though so I guess it didn’t really matter.  

wpid-20140402_211152.jpgI also tried to make vegan icing for the cake, I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t really make icing. And I’m OK with that… because this was a complete disaster;

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk

So you’re supposed to start out by creaming the margarine, that was all fine and dandy. Then I added in the sugar, margarine is pretty soft so I didn’t have an issue mixing in the sugar like I do with regular butter. When using regular butter I end up over working it and it looks a bit grainy, that wasn’t the case with the margarine. My problem was when I added in the coconut milk. I’m not sure if it was the particular coconut milk that I was using or just my inability to make simple things… but as I was mixing it started to get really grainy and oily. As I was waiting for the cake to bake I set this mess aside. When I came back to it later it looked absolutely awful. I gave up on that and went with some store-bought icing (again, did you know that most of these are vegan as well!?).

wpid-c360_2014-04-02-23-12-32-231.jpgA few hours later, I put this baby together! I swear I will decorate a cake with something other than the star tip, I just love the way the roses look. I clearly need some work on the whole decorating part, but I will admit that I am getting better at it.

Something more to add to the “gotta learn this shit” list.

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