Yummy Vegan Cake!

vegan vanilla cake 

I was “challenged” by my husband’s friend Andrea to make a vegan cake. I have to say the idea of making a cake without butter, eggs, sour cream or milk was extremely daunting. However, after a little research I found a recipe that seemed doable and also sounded tasty…so off I went on my vegan adventure. This recipe is a vegan variation of the White Almond Sour Cream cake I use as my go to cake recipe.

Vegan Vanilla Cake: This recipe is from Madchen on CakeCentral.com
1 cup soy butter (Earth Balance is best)
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup soy milk (or rice milk)
1/2 cup vegan sour cream (tofutti is vegan, look for non-hydrogenated)
9 tsp Ener-G egg replacer powder
12 Tbsp warm water.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. The original recipe says 350 degrees but I bake everything at 325. Prepare pans, I used my homemade cake release (yes it’s vegan). In mixer, cream soy butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 7 – 8 min. In separate bowl, mix egg replacer and warm water. Beat until frothy. Add to butter/sugar mixture then beat in vanilla.
Mix flour with baking powder and salt in separate bowl.
Add the dry mixture to creamed mixture alternately with soy milk and “sour cream”. Begin and end with dry.
Spoon into pans. Bake for approx. 25 – 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
** Please don’t over mix the batter… which is very bad for vegan baking. **

This recipe made 2 6 inch layers plus 10 cupcakes.

When I made this cake, I had purchased the Silk French Vanilla Coffee creamer for making the buttercream so I replaced the soymilk with the Silk coffee creamer in the cake recipe. One pint was enough for the cake and the buttercream.  The French Vanilla coffee creamer made the cake a little extra sweet but I didn’t get any complaints:)

Where to find soy milk, soy butter, soy sour cream and egg replacement powder you may ask? I was at Kroger shopping for other stuff and in their “dairy” section they had a complete area dedicated to vegan and organic products. I was able to fine everything but the Egg Replacer. Andrea said her Kroger also carries the Egg Replacer powder but you have to look for it. It’s powder so it’s not in the dairy section. In my area, the Egg Replacer is available at Sprouts.  If you don’t have a Sprouts, check out Ener-G’s website. They have a product location finder.

I have to say I was pretty nervous about this cake. I was afraid it wouldn’t rise, it wouldn’t taste right, the texture would be off. I was so thrilled when the cake came out of the oven and it looked like all my other cakes. The only thing I did notice is the crust was just a little bit crispier. After giving it some thought, I think that the sugar content in the coffee creamer did change the crust just a bit but nothing to effect the final taste of the cake.

If I compare the traditional WASC to the Vegan Sour Cream Cake, I would say the textures are slightly different. The vegan cake was slightly more dense. This may be that it is vegan but it may also be that this is a cake from scratch. WASC is based on a doctored cake mix and as such the texture is very specific.

Frosting: I used my traditional buttercream recipe (thank you Sugar Shack)  but substituted the Silk Coffee Creamer instead of Coffee Mate:

For a single batch of buttercream:
2 1/2 cups of vegetable shortening (I use a hi-ratio shortening from my  local cake supply)
2 lbs of powedered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
7 tablespoons of hot Silk Coffee Creamer (you may not need all of it)flower cupcakes

Combine the shortening, 2/3 of the coffee cream and the vanilla in a mixer. Start slow or it will splatter, slowly add in the powdered sugar. If the buttercream is too thick, add the left over coffee creamer until you reach the consistency you need. Frost your cake.

Since this cake was a “Just Because” cake I didn’t have any specific design in mind. Since neither fondant or gelatin are vegan, I needed to use just buttercream for the decorations. So I went for girly, bright colored polka dots. With the left over cupcakes I decided to play with different tips using the left over colored buttercream. The pink cupcake is a 1M tip, the teal cupcake is using tip 104 to make a carnation style flower, and the purple cake is drop flowers using tip 107. The cake was a hit with Andrea (vegan) and her non-vegan friends and family.

Now that I know the base recipe is a winner, next on the vegan experiment list is CHOCOLATE CAKE!

Sugar Free Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake with Crumb sidesI’ve never been a fan of sugar free anything…please, I am a baker and true sugar junky. However my dear friend Laura gave up sugar many years ago and it’s great except I was never able to make her a cake. That is until I found this sugar free cake recipe on Sharon’s fabulous blog http://sugaredblog.blogspot.com. I tweaked the recipe just a bit.  I was very nervous tweaking the recipe  because scratch recipes are much pickier than doctored box mixes but I couldn’t resist.  I used 1/2 regular cocoa and 1/2 dutch processed cocoa and I also added a little almond flavoring which is my favorite with chocolate cake.  Next time I’m going to try all dutch processed cocoa and see how it goes.   

Sugar-free Chocolate Cake 
2 cups flour (I used Swan’s cake flour but AP should work as well)
1½ cups Splenda (granular no calorie sweetener)
¾ cup non-dairy creamer powder
¼ tsp salt
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp regular cocoa powder
¼ cup Hershey’s special dark cocoa (Sharon’s recipe uses all regular cocoa)
¾ cup vegetable oil (can sub ¾ cup apple sauce for oil)
1 cup + 2 Tbsp milk
3 eggs separated
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond flavoring
Fresh strawberries for filling and decoration    

Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Measure the dry ingredients into a bowl reserving ¼ cup Splenda. In another bowl mix the oil, milk, vanilla, almond and 3 egg yolks.   fluffy egg whites    

  In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until fluffy, slowly adding the remaining ¼ cup of Splenda. 

  Folding egg whites into batterGently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.  

I had read that sugar free batter doesn’t rise as much as regular cake batter so I decided to use 2 six inch pans to ensure I got a nice height to each layer.      

 To prep the pans I used my homemade cake release (recipe is at the end of my Go To Chocolate Cake post). Squirt some cake release in the pan and spread it around using the pastry brush. Be sure to fully cover the bottom and sides of each pan.      

chocolate batter in pans

Prepping Pan with Homemade Cake Release

Cake release in squeeze bottle, silicon pastry brush and two 6 inch cake pans.

         Fill pans 2/3 of the way full. I overfilled just a bit because everyone said sugar free cakes don’t rise as much as regular cakes. 

Cake Dome

The original recipe says to bake at 350 which I did (even though I normally bake at 325). The reason I decided to follow the recipe is because of how picky scratch recipes are and also because everyone said sugar free cakes don’t rise like regular cakes. Ummmmm…see for yourself.   

Bake the cakes until a toothpick comes out clean. These took about 40 minutes in my oven.  Next time I will definitely be baking at 325. But believe it or not that super tall mound worked out in my favor this time.  (Keep reading to see why).

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then take a sharp bread knife and lay it along the top edge of your pan and level each cake while it’s still in the pan.  Save the scraps.You need tto remove the dome to turn the cakes onto a cooling rack.       

Cooling cakeHave 3 cooling racks handy. Take the first cooling rack and place it over the cake pan, holding the rack tightly to the pan, flip them both over..keeping the cake pan firmly against the cooling rack. Because the cake release is so great, the cake normally let’s go with just a subtle shake of the pan.   (Note I do NOT run a knife along the edge of the cake when using cake release. This usually creates crumbs and issues when I ice my cakes). Here you can see that you also get a really nice side to the cakes (no crumbs) using the cake release.      

Take another cooling rack and lay it on top of your cake. There should be a cooling rack on bottom, cake in the middle and a cooling rack face down on the cake, firmly (but gently) hold the cooling racks together and flip the cake over. The cut side of the cake should now be face up on the cooling rack. Do this for both cakes. Let the cakes cool completely (for a 6 inch cake this is usually 45 minutes to an hour).      

While the cakes are cooling, make your frosting.      

A single batch was just enough frosting to cover a 6 inch 2 layer cake.       

1 Large box sugar-free chocolate instant pudding mix
1-cup low fat milk
2 cups heavy cream      

In a mixing bowl, pour the milk. Measure out the heavy cream in a separate container  and open the pudding box. Quickly pour the pudding into the milk beating just until absorbed. (Here is where I screwed up. I over mixed the pudding and left it sitting just long enough it got globby). Then add the heavy cream and continue to beat until light and fluffy.  Place frosting in fridge until ready to ice the cake.      

When I added the heavy cream my pudding didn’t really dissolve and I ended up with chocolate pudding chunks in my frosting. Next time I may skip the milk all together and just use the heavy cream. I was so disappointed in my frosting because it meant the cake wouldn’t look very pretty. And my friend Laura deserves a beautiful birthday cake. Since the frosting tasted great and just had dark spots in it,  I decide to try the “crumbs” on the side look. This was my first time trying this technique.      

 Crumbs on cookie sheet
 I took the tops I had cut of both cakes and crumbled them on to a cookie sheet. I placed the cookie sheet back in the oven. The oven was off but still warm from baking the cakes earlier. I left them in there about 30 minutes.  I took them back out of the oven and let them cool for just a couple of minutes. I placed the crumbs in a gallon sized zip lock bag and ran my rolling pin over the bag crushing the crumbs so they were very fine.     

Now that the cakes were cool, I needed to level them completely. Because they had risen funny, the top edge was not actually level. I have the BEST cake leveler in the entire world called the Agbay. And before you say it YES I know it’s expensive and YES it’s worth every single penny.       

Level both cakes if removing the dome was not enough. Place a coupler at the bottom of a piping bag with no tip. Fill a piping bag with your frosting. Put a dab of frosting on a 6 inch cake board and place the first layer of cake cut side down.  A bit of the board will be showing, this is OK. Put a thin layer of frosting on top of the cake. Using just the couple (no tip), pipe a border  around the edge of the cake. Place sliced strawberries inside the border just below the top edge. Put another thin layer of frosting over the strawberries just to the edge of your border.      

Place your next cake cut side down onto the frosted layer. Ice the cake normally. I used the edge of the cake board to guide me in the thickness of my icing. At this point my cake had all the little black specks from my pudding frosting.   

Applying cake crumbsSo time for the messy part…applying the crumbs.  I placed my cake on a large  piece of parchment paper then I took  a handful of the crumbs and placed them  gently on the side of the cake. More crumbs ended up on the parchment than on the cake. I repeated this until the sides of my cake were covered.  Obviousely crumbs had also spilled along the top so I carefully applied more crumbs to the top edge of my cake. I placed the cake in the freezer for about 10 minutes. This was going to make it easier to put on my pretty cake board.  I took the cake out of the freezer and set it on a decorated 8 inch cake board covered in wrapping paper then food safe cello wrap and a ribbon around the edge. Then using the star tip I piped small rosettes long the border of the cake and placed the strawberries on top.    With the fresh fruit and whipping cream this cake does require refrigeration.

Laura and I cut the cake and had a nice slice with a glass of milk. I don’t think you would know it was sugar free unless someone told you! I was pleasantly surprised.     

Chocolate strawberry cake      

Happy Birthday Laura.

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