When you start cooking without animal products you can make millions of dishes that are easy and fast and entirely plant-based. Baking, however, is another story. Baking involves so many animal products – eggs for starters –therefore, trying to find replacements that work in the same way might not be the easiest thing. And by the way – ready-made vegan custard is a god sent. Just saying.
Now by the way of admission – I like to bake; however, you will find that a traybake is lots more common in my kitchen than an aquafaba meringue, besides my cakes need to taste first look second, and easier and faster to make the better.
Finding this recipe was a revelation of sorts, it is so easy and versatile that I am now constantly changing it to try new flavours. So far, we had lemon and poppy seed, chocolate, coffee and walnut, vanilla with coconut cream and strawberries, rhubarb and vanilla, rhubarb and gooseberry, plum, chocolate and raspberry, chocolate and cherry. Possibilities are endless if you follow a few rules. If you add liquid (i.e. coffee) remove some other fluid (i.e. mylk) if you add some dry ingredients (i.e. cocoa powder) remove some flour. Easy.
This cake works on proportions, it’s easy to downscale or multiply as needed. I’m using a mixture of measurements, as it was the easiest to do it for me so for a standard rectangular traybake I use:
3 cups of self-rising flour*
- cups of sugar**
500 ml of plant-based mylk ***
1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
12 tbsp. of vegetable oil
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl (you can sieve the flour if you want) then in a jug mix the mylk, vinegar and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into a bowl and mix it all well.
At this stage you add all the flavourings you would like. Like a grated lemon rind and a 0 .25 cup of dry poppy seeds. Substitute 0.5 cup of flour with 0.5 cups of cocoa powder then add some chopped dark chocolate pieces and few nuts or cherries, or a big pinch of chilli. Mix in vanilla powder and 3 chopped stalks of rhubarb. Let your imagination run wild.
Transfer into a lined baking tray and bake for about 30-45 min in 170ºC until an inserted skewer comes out dry.
Give this cake a go, unleash your adventurer in the kitchen. It will be worth it- I promise.
* plain flour with 1 tsp of baking soda works too. When making it chocolate substitute 0.5 cups of flour with the same quantity of cocoa powder – remember to use Fairtrade one!
** caster, granulated, brown – your choice, just remember that brown will be better for chocolatey cakes as it might add some chewiness and a bit of flavour. And avoid the white cane sugar, processing cane to white sugar involves animal products, namely bone char. Nobody needs that type of negativity in their life.
***Soy or oat or whatever you have to hand, just not rice. However, rice mylk does not behave the same way in bakes, also you can use hazelnut mylk for a delicate flavouring
Also, note that a cup always equals 250ml
Brownies are an ultimate pick me up. Rich and decadent. Beetroot brownies are however a healthier option. By adding beetroot you will introduce an earthy flavour which goes so well with chocolate. You can use raw beetroots and roast them yourself or ready cooked for speedy baking. Either way, it will be a feast. Even more so if you serve them with a dollop of ice-cream or custard. For vegan option replace butter with 50g of coconut oil and 50g of rapeseed oil and replace eggs with ½ cup of soaked chia seeds.
For vegan option replace butter with 50g of coconut oil and 50g of rapeseed oil and replace eggs with ½ cup of soaked chia seeds.
You will need:
500 g of beetroot (either raw, which you will have to roast, or ready cooked)
100g of unsalted butter
200g of plain dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids)
1 tbsp vanilla extract of seeds from a half of a pod
250 g of golden caster or light brown sugar
100g of plain flour
25g of cocoa powder
20×30 baking tray gas mark 4/ 180C / 160C fan
If you are using raw beetroot, then clean it and wrap in foil then bake them in 180C until tender. Peel and chop into smaller pieces then put into a blender bowl. Then add cubed butter and chocolate in pieces and mix together until it’s smooth.
If you are using ready cooked beetroot then you need to melt the chocolate and butter in a water bath (or microwave) and add it to the blended beetroot.
In a separate bowl beat the eggs with sugar until fluffy (you can beat first whites to soft peaks then add the sugar and yolks – it will be airier.
Mix together the beetroot/chocolate puree with vanilla and egg/ sugar mixture. Try not knock all the air out. Then sieve the cocoa and flour in and fold it gently.
Pour the mixture into a lined baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, until its raised and only have a small wobble in the middle.
Get it out of the oven and onto a cooling rack. Cut into squares and enjoy.
It was my daughter’s choice of cake, so it needed slight adaptation to full birthday cake. Mainly the layer of raspberries ended up in between the layers of cake, so decoration could be more suitable. I have to warn you, it is real Devil’s food, devilishly chocolatey and just incredibly tasty.
You will need 2 identical baking trays (approx 8 inch or 20cm), just like for Victoria sponge cake. Grease them and line the bottoms with baking paper. Then preheat the oven. Take all the ingredients out, because they need to be in room temperature. You will need:
200 g plain flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt
125 ml of buttermilk or plain yogurt mixed with 125 ml of water
Vanilla extract or seeds from a half of the pod
50 g of cocoa powder mixed with 125 ml of water
2 large eggs
115 g softened butter
130-150 g of caster sugar
200 g soft brown sugar
Mix together sieved flour, soda and salt and set aside. Mix buttermilk with water and vanilla, mix cocoa with water until it’s a smooth paste. Beat the whole eggs in a bowl.
Put the softened butter in a clean bowl and mix it until fluffy and airy, slowly add sugar- first caster then brown while mixing. Then mix in the eggs, bit by bit. Add cocoa paste, mix some more. On the end add flour mix and buttermilk – mixing only until everything is incorporated.
Divide equally it into 2 tins. Bake for about 40-45 mins in 180C, it will be wet as it resembles the brownie more than sponge.
For the filling I used 500 ml double cream, 3 tbsp of caster sugar and seeds of half of a vanilla pod. Just whip the cream with vanilla and sugar until it holds it shape. And about 300
When the cake is baked take it out of the tin onto a cooling rack, when it cools down put it on the serving plate, use a half of the cream on the first cake (if you want to copy mine put the raspberries on the cream, pushing them slightly in), put the second cake on the top and cover with remaining cream. If you want to go classic- put the raspberries on the top. Enjoy.
What is your favourite cake? I would like to try new recipes.
So first the sponge:
6 eggs, separated
150g caster sugar
115g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
40g melted butter
Whip the egg whites with half of the sugar until stiff, then in separate bowl whip egg yolks with remaining sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add butter to the yolks, add 1/3 of the whites to loosen up the mixture. Add sieved flour and cocoa, mix together. Add the rest of the whites and fold gently. It’s important not to knock out the air. Pour into a lined baking tray (I used square 12in one with loose base). Bake for approx 30 min or until inserted stick comes out dry.
In a mean time prepare gelatine – 2 leaves or 2 heaped tbs just cover with hot water and let it dissolve.
For cream in a classic it is just 500 ml double cream and 2 tbs of icing sugar. However I changed it and used 200 ml of double cream and approx 250ml of stracciatella yogurt. Whipped the cream, added the yogurt and the gelatine.
When the sponge was ready I cut it in half, used the plum vodka to soak it, put the cream on the bottom layer, top it up with second layer and put chocolate ganache on top. Chill it in a fridge for at least 2 hours, or even better overnight.
Chocolate ganache: 100ml of double cream- heated, 100g of dark chocolate (74%) melt in the cream and pour all over the cake.
Because why not?
200 g butter
200 g caster sugar
4 large eggs
250g self-raising flour
125g dark (80%) chocolate- melted
Cream butter and sugar together until smooth, then add eggs and flour and mix. On the end add melted chocolate and mix some more. Put into a lined round baking tray – not too big, approx 20cm diameter. Bake in 180C for 45 min, or until stick comes out clean :-).
Once is baked cool it a bit, then cut in at least 2 layers, 3 are better but its your choice.
300ml double cream
200g dark (80%) chocolate- melted
Whip the cream, when it holds its shape add melted chocolate and whip some more. Just not too much (double cream likes to change into butter if whipped for too long).
Put the layer of the cake, cover with cream mix and repeat as long as you have cream to put on the top.
Put the cake in a fridge for at least 2 hours, then enjoy with some coffee.
So decision made, and because any recipe is just a suggestion I decided to mix and match.
My cake is going to be 2 tier thingy, bottom made of chocolate sponge and top of a poppy seed one. Where I came from poppy seed cakes are essentials for Christmas and Easter, so given my birthday is just a week from Easter – why not. Both cakes will be layered with white chocolate ganache and blackcurrant jam made by my friend. And maybe some of my raspberry curd (homemade of course).
So chocolate sponge:
6 eggs (separated)
150g caster sugar
115g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
40g melted butter (cooled)
pinch of soda bicarb
Vanilla (paste, extract or whatever you want)
All ingredients must be in a room temperature (not straight from the fridge- eggs, or boiling hot- butter).
Whip the egg whites till stiff, in separate bowl whip the yolks with sugar till creamy and light in colour, add melted butter top yolks and keep mixing. Add yolks with butter to whites and gently mix, add flour, cocoa and soda. Mix until smooth but still with lots of air. Prepare the baking tin, line it with paper or parchment. Put the mixture in a tin and bake @180C (gas mark 5) for about 30 min (or till stick comes dry). Then cut it into 3 layers. Et Voila.
Poppy seed sponge
5 eggs (separated)
150g caster sugar
2 tbs ground almonds
120g fine sponge flour
2 tbs corn or potato flour
1 tbs of baking powder (I give 1 heaped tsp of soda)
200g dry poppy seeds (blue ones)
Whip the whites till stiff, add the caster sugar, make sure its properly mixed. Add the egg yolks, keep mixing. Sieve the flours, powder and almonds, add poppy seeds, mix gently not to knock out the air from egg whites. Put in a baking tin (lined again) and bake for 45 min (or till stick comes dry) @180C (gas mark 5). When baked cut it into 3 layers again.
Then, spread jam on the chocolate cake, then put cream on it, and next layer.
And again, and again until you use all the cake layers, or cream, or it will get too high to fit in your fridge. Then spread cream on the top layer, decorate it the way you want and can. Enjoy.
ps. Poppy seed cake can be very dry,so it would do it good if you moisten it with alcohol of some sort (brandy is good) or lemon juice mixed with water and maybe some syrup.
pss. My ganache is definitely my take on recipe, as everywhere they say that you should melt chocolate in cream and the whip it when cool, with white chocolate it was always dieseaster. So I whip the cream until firm then add melted chocolate. At least it keeps its shape.
I know it’s unorthodox to bake oneself a birthday cake, but here we go again. I don’t like shop bought stuff (I like to know what exactly goes in it), and noone in my family can do it yet. My Daughter is too young (despite her best efforts to cook), and my husband who can cook – can’t really bake. So I am off again, trawling internet for inspirations. My fave recepies website is http://www.mojewypieki.com/ it’s entirely in Polish, but google translator can help a long way. So now I just need to decide which one to bake. And then in two weeks time I will have to bake another one, as it will be my husbands birthday 🙂 yummy.