Once upon a time I thought vegans ate nothing but weird meat analogues and nuts and seeds and other strange things this little country girl had never heard of. And lentils*. The horror!
Turns out I was wrong. Which happens sometimes when you actually learn about things rather than just assume. And I had a lot to learn.
The first time I baked a vegan cake, I could not believe the results. I was nothing if not a devotee to butter, and I knew how important eggs were for making things rise. I don't really know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't a well-flavoured, moist cake that's for sure.
All vegan baking really comes down to is perhaps some dairy-free margarine and something to replace the eggs - apple puree, vegetable oil, mashed banana - it isn't really difficult. And in fact can be quite helpful if you are halfway through a cake when you realise you don't have any eggs. Something I've done once or twice. Ahem.
As I've said before, I'm really fussy with my food. If it isn't amazing, I won't eat it. Life's too short, right? Well I'm rarely a cake eater, but when I do indulge it's only with something that isn't a waste of time and calories. Pleased to say this cake is neither.
Now this isn't my recipe, I've only tweaked it from the vegan guru Isa Chandra Moskowitz and her revolutionary book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. It's the vegan cupcake bible, and Isa is the vegan baking messiah.
Anywhere you see extra flavouring, I've added cherry brandy essence. The rest I kept exactly the same. I also added chopped glace cherries to the top and sprinkled a little cocoa powder over. Try it! You might like it. I served these to the guests at my baby shower, none of whom are even vegetarian, let alone vegan.
1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a muffin or cupcake tray with liners.
2. Whisk the soy milk and vinegar and set aside for a few minutes. Add sugar, oil, extracts, and beat until foamy.
3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until there are no big lumps.
4. Fill liners 3/4 of the way and bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool before frosting.
Vegan Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex is good)
1 3/4 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A drop or two of cherry brandy essence
A drop or two of pink food colouring
1/4 cup soy milk
* lentils are delicious. Little did I know...