Life is what you bake of it – vegan baking

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been focusing on vegan baking recently.   Although I have baked a couple of vegan bakes in the past (an apple and rhubarb cake and chocolate and hazelnut cookies when I was the prep chef at Lynwood & Co) I was keen to explore vegan baking further.  Firstly, as part of my 52 week challenge, I wanted to explore a different type of baking.  Secondly, as veganism is on the increase, I wanted to be able to offer my current and future customers a range of vegan bakes.

I started by making a chocolate sheet cake using a recipe from www.domesticgothness.com.   The first step was to make a ganache so that it could cool down in the fridge while the cake was being made.  I have made traditional ganache many times, both at Ashburton Cookery School and since I left the School, but I have never made a ganache with coconut oil.  It worked very well.  The only thing I would do differently next time is cool it for shorter as I had to work the ganache quite a bit to get it into a spreadable form to ice the cake.

The chocolate sheet cake was a simple bake.  A simple recipe of mixing the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another and then whisking in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until smooth.  It is important not to over mix the batter as this with develop the gluten in the flour and make the cake tough.

A possible unusual element of the bake was the use of cider vinegar, something I haven’t really used in cake baking in the past.  I was aware that cider vinegar is widely used in vegan baking, so it wasn’t a surprise that it popped up as one of the ingredients.   Info: cider vinegar is used for its leavening and flavour enhancing properties.

The end result was a delicious-tasting, light chocolate cake with a lovely texture.  The coconut milk ganache added a decadence to the bake and the eating.  I have included the recipe below in case you wish to give it a try.  Happy baking!

Chocolate sheet cake

Ingredients

Ganache

  • 200g dairy free dark chocolate
  • 100g dairy free milk chocolate
  • 250ml full fat coconut milk

 Cake

  •  480 ml unsweetened almond milk (or other plant milk)
  • 2tsp cider vinegar
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 200ml sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 100g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt

Method

  •  Start by making the ganache. Chop the chocolate finely and place in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the coconut milk until it is just coming up to the boil.
  • Pour the hot milk over the chocolate and set aside for two minutes then stir until melted and smooth. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge to set for about 2 hours while you make the cake.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 23 x 33cm rectangular cake tin.
  • Whisk together the almond milk, vinegar, caster sugar, brown sugar, sunflower oil and vanilla extract in a bowl.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
  • Gradually whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until smooth.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin and spread level.  Bake for 25-35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Leave the cake to cool in the tin.  Once cool, carefully flip it out onto a wire rack.
  • When the ganache is thick and spreadable, spread the ganache over the top of the cake and top with chocolate curls.  If the ganache is too runny when checked, return it to the fridge/freezer until it is firm.  If it is too thick, warm it over a pan of hot water until it has softened.
  • The cake will keep for up to five days in an airtight container at room temperature.  If it is warm, place the cake in the fridge so that the ganache doesn’t become too soft.

Like many people, I am partial to a lemon cake.  So when considering baking vegan cakes, I knew I had to include a lemon cake in my repertoire.   I came across a recipe for an iced lemon cake on www.allrecipes.co.uk.  As with the chocolate cake, the cake was a simple one.  Mixing wet ingredients into sifted dry ingredients.  The iced lemon cake was even easier to make than the chocolate cake as the icing was simply, sieved icing sugar mixed with lemon juice to the right consistency.  Despite the simplicity of the bake, the recipe (see below) yielded another delicious, well-textured cake.

Iced lemon cake

Ingredients

  • 275g self raising flour
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 200ml cold water
  • 150g icing sugar

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease and line a loaf tin.
  • Add the sieved flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest to a large bowl. Mix the juice of half a lemon, oil and water. Add to the bowl and stir mixture until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour into the tin and bake until a skewer comes out clean, approximately 30 minutes.  Remove from the tin after 10 minutes and leave to completely cool before adding the icing.
  • To make the icing, sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and mix in enough of the remaining lemon juice until it is thick enough to pour over the cake.  Avoid adding too much juice into the mixture or the icing will run down the sides and form a puddle at the base.

My final vegan cake as part of my foray into vegan baking, was a vegan ginger cake with orange and almond from www.littlesugarsnaps.com.

Vegan ginger cake with orange and almond

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 75g caster sugar
  • 75g dark brown sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 60 ml rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 120 ml almond milk
  • 100 ml orange juice (freshly squeezed)
  • ¾ tsp almond extract
  • ¾ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp syrup from a jar of stem ginger
  • Zest from 2 oranges

 Icing

  •  160 icing sugar
  • 25 ml orange juice

 Topping

  • Flaked almonds
  • Crystalised ginger (chopped fine)

Method

Cake

  •  Preheat oven to 170C and grease & line a loaf tin with baking parchment.
  • Firstly, remove lumps from the brown sugar.
  • Measure all dry ingredients into a bowl (sugars, flour, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt). Stir to combine.
  • Measure all wet ingredients (oil, milk, juice, extracts, syrup) in a bowl or jug.  Whisk with a whisk until blended. Add the orange zest.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and beat together with the whisk until just combined.
  • Pour the cake batter into the loaf tin and bake for 50-60 minutes.  After 50 minutes test with a skewer – if it comes out clean the cake is cooked. If not, return to the oven and bake for a few more minutes before testing again.
  • Once baked, set aside to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and baking paper and let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Finishing

  • Mix the icing sugar with 3 tsp of orange juice until smooth.  Add more orange juice, bit by bit, until you obtain the correct consistency (dropping).
  • Spoon the icing over the cake and spread it with a palette knife to cover the top – it drip down the sides.
  • Sprinkle finely chopped crystallised ginger and almond flakes across the top of the cake.
  • Leave to set slightly before serving.
  • Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

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