There’s something about the idea of a ‘vegan cake’ which seems a little baffling to a non-vegan like myself…….. and that is the absence of egg. When I first learnt to bake, egg was always a fundamental component in cake, so I have always been intrigued by the idea of cake that is egg-free as well as the question of whether it could be made to be as good as traditional ‘egg-infused’ sponge made by traditional baking methods. If you don’t need to make cake without egg (because you are not either vegan or egg-intolerent) then choosing to make one will likely be the result of a very conscious decision or something that needs to be made for a specific egg-free occasion………
Enter my (newly designated vegan) niece-in-law………. I developed this particular cake recipe and made it for the first time when she came to visit a while back…….. Rather than panic and give her fruit for dessert, I turned to Mr GF and said……. uh uh…… ‘This is a cake house and we will have vegan cake on the table when she comes to tea…..’
Whilst I am confident that I know what to do in substituting for dairy milks, yoghurts and fats, replacing egg is less familiar. Being clear that I didn’t want to use a commercial ‘egg replacer’ or an obvious specific egg-substitute (on the rare occasions that I have used them, I have been unhappy with the results), I challenged myself to bake a cake with a soft sponge that did not compromise quality and that even the most hardened egg-eating cake addict would love.
A bit of basic research on vegan baking later (actually there is nothing particularly ‘clever’ about it at all) and my very own vegan chocolate cakes were born…… My niece was really chuffed that I had made a special effort and everybody else really enjoyed them too. They were so good, that I decided they needed to make another appearance in my kitchen and also to be shared with the world.
The great thing about vegan recipes is that they naturally also fall into the category of both dairy and egg free, which makes these little beauties perfect for those who have to avoid either or both of these categories for other health or allergy reasons. I also needed to make them gluten free to fit in with our own dietary needs linked to Coeliac, so that’s an extra benefit…..
Whether you are intolerant or allergic to any or all of these ingredients……. rest assured that you too can have your chocolate cake and eat it!
And for an added guilt-free bonus, I have made them as healthy as possible by using unrefined coconut palm sugar and also coconut oil, coconut milk and some ground almonds for good measure.
The sponge is deliciously chocolatey with a good punch of cocoa……. Although the crumb is quite dense, it is by no means over-firm, with a texture that remains soft and perfectly cakey. Sandwiched with a contrastingly fruity red cherry conserve and topped with whipped coconut cream, these mini sandwich cakes are as decadent as they are tempting…… Topped with a few blueberries and a sprinkle of dark vegan chocolate and a little glitter, they are sure to put a smile on the face of all who are lucky enough to eat them.
Another great idea for Valentines? I think so!
Not wanting to keep this discovery to myself, I am offering my Mini Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Cakes to the following :
#FoodYearLinkUp with Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen, celebrating Veganuary
Bake of the Week with Casa Costello.
Cook Blog Share, this week with Haley over at Snap Happy Bakes.
Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum.
Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse
Mini Vegan & Gluten Free Chocolate Cakes with Coconut Whipped Cream (makes 12 mini sandwiches or approx 15 cupcakes))
- Pre-prepare for making the coconut cream, by placing the tin of coconut milk (or the coconut cream) in the fridge (upside-down) overnight.
- Weigh and mix together the flour, almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cocoa powder and sugar.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Prepare your cake tins/cases. I used a mini sandwich cakes tin (which I base lined with baking paper), or you may prefer to make cupcakes.
- In a small bowl, melt the coconut oil either over steaming water or in the microwave on medium (30 second bursts until liquid).
- Put the milk, yoghurt, vanilla paste and vinegar in a large bowl, add the melted coconut oil and whisk until well combined. If the coconut oil begins to solidify and go lumpy, place the bowl over a dish of steaming water and whisk, to enable it to remain liquid.
- Add the dry ingredients and whisk all together until completely combined (whisk over a dish of steaming water if there is any hint of oil solidification, so that your batter becomes really smooth).
- Spoon into the cake tins or cupcake liners (about two-thirds full) and bake for about 20 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Remove from the tins and place on a wire rack to cool.
- Meanwhile, make the coconut whipped cream : Remove the tin of coconut milk from the fridge and turn the right way up. Open the can and pour off the liquid (which should now be at the top of the can) into a glass (enjoy as a drink or add to a smoothie)
- Scoop out the coconut cream into a medium bowl and add the sweetener and vanilla.
- Whisk the cream until thick, then set aside in the fridge for at least an hour or until ready to use.
- When the cakes are cold, slice in half horizontally or core a small hole from the middle (saving the cake cap) and fill with red cherry conserve or your favourite jam.
- Top each cake with a spoon of coconut cream, fruit and grated vegan chocolate.