The basis for most vegan cakes is simple. You make a dry mixture and a wet mixture, and combine them. Easy! Once you get the hang of the concept, this simplicity means it’s easy to play with ingredients and create your own inventive recipes. Before you start getting creative, just master these basics.
1. Make a thicker batter
The main difference between ‘traditional’ and vegan cake batters is the consistency. Vegan cake batter should be much thicker – like a softly melting ice cream rather than a liquid batter. This is why many first-time vegan bakers end up with something quite stodgy, because there was simply too much liquid in their batter.
One reason for this difference is the use of, or absence of, eggs. Think about what happens when egg is heated – it goes from liquid to solid. In a traditional batter, the egg part of the batter literally solidifies as it cooks, turning from liquid into solid to hold the risen structure firmly in place. In vegan baking, the batter doesn’t travel so far along the liquid-solid spectrum, so you need to start with something thicker.
2. Make sure there is a binding ingredient
If you are using flour that contains gluten (wheat or spelt), the gluten will do the job of binding the ingredients. However, it’s advisable to include at least one of the following in your recipe to make sure you don’t end up with a cake that crumbles as you slice it:
- 1tbsp ground golden linseed mixed with 2 tbsp water (can be used to replace 1 egg in any baking recipe)
- 1 – 2 tbsp ground chia seeds mixed with 2 tbsp water
- 100g silken tofu, blended smooth
- 1 mashed banana
3. Reduce oven time
Many vegan cake batters will require less baking time because of their lower liquid content. With a fan oven, you probably won’t be waiting more than 15 minutes. The exception to this rule is brownies, which always need a longer time at a low temperature to make them really fudgey.
Recipe to try: Chocolate sponge cake
Here’s a basic vegan chocolate cake recipe, with explanations about the functions of some ingredients. You might not be used to putting salt and vinegar in a cake, but take a leap of faith – it works!
Dry ingredients – sieve these together
- 1 cup plain flour
Fine whole-wheat flour will work just fine in this recipe and give it a boost of fiber and B-vitamins. You can also choose any gluten-free flour mix, preferably one that contains xantham gum.
- 1 heaped tsp baking powder
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
Wet mixture – whisk these together
- 1 cup soya milk + 1 tsp cider vinegar OR juice of half a lemon
This mixture will curdle to a yogurty consistency that lends a beautiful lightness to your cake.
- 1 tbsp ground linseed + 2 tbsp water
This will thicken to a sticky gel that binds your cake and provides essential fatty acids too.
(Let these two combinations sit for a minute before combining with the rest)
- 1/4 cup oil (sunflower or vegetable)
- 3/4 cup unrefined sugar OR maple syrup
- 1sp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt (ideally Himalayan crystal salt)
Salt rounds out the sweet and chocolatey flavors, and helps the mixture to rise.
In a large bowl, gently combine the wet and dry mixtures using a whisk or large spoon. Scrape the batter into a lightly oiled cake tin and bake for approximately 20 minutes at 180°C/350°F.
Allow to cool for ten minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
Quick and easy chocolate filling
Using a fork, fluff 3/4 cup vegan margarine with 1 cup icing sugar. Gradually beat in 100g melted plain chocolate and 1tsp vanilla extract.
Image Source: Vegan Chocolate Potato Cake