I wanted to bake a cake as surprise for a friend (thus the stealthiness), which is easier said than done when they're always around. I sometimes find vegan cake recipes to be too oily, which bums me out, but soy yogurt gives this cake moistness without greasiness, which was just what I wanted. Stealth tip: to cover the smell of freshly baked cake, I dry-fried some curry powder in a pan afterwards. Sneaky.

Stealthy Lemon Birthday Cake [Vegan]

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Ingredients

Lemon Icing:
  • 1 cup of vegan margarine
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Good pinch of salt
  • a few drops of vegan red food coloring
  • a few drops of vegan yellow food coloring
Lemon Cake:
  • 1¾ cups of flour (I used spelt)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ cup vegan margarine (room temperature)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups soy yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • zest of a lemon
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Preparation

For the icing:
  1. Cream the margarine and shortening together ’til they are fluffy. Add in the lemon juice and salt.
  2. Mix in the sugar and mix again at a high speed until the ingredients have been well-incorporated. If it looks too thick, it can be thinned with a few drops of non-dairy milk.
  3. Scoop out  approx. 1/4 of the mixture and set aside. Add a few drops of yellow colouring to the icing and mix well again, adding more colouring until you are happy with the shade. Use a spatula to scoop out the icing and place in a bag, ready for the refrigerator (see photos below).
  4. Put the remaining 1/4 of your icing back into the food processor/bowl and repeat the colouring process with the red dye. Add a tiny bit at first and add more until the icing is pink. Both bags of icing should be refrigerated to firm up (at least 15 minutes).
Bagging icing:
  1. I find the easiest way to do this is to get a tall, wide glass (a pint glass is ideal). Place the bag inside it, rolling the opening of the bag over the edges of the glass to keep the bag open. This makes it much easier to scoop the icing into the bag.
For the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare 2 8-inch baking tins (I lined mine with parchment but greasing them is good too)
  2. Beat together the margarine and the sugar until fluffy.
  3. Sift in half the flour, baking powder and baking soda and mix ’til incorporated.
  4. Add in the yogurt, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix well.
  5. Mix in the remaining flour. Pour half the mixture into each baking tin.
  6. Super important: tap the filled baking tins repeatedly on your worktop to remove any air bubbles. This will help your cake rise better.
  7. Place the tins in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the middle comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Allow to cool FULLY before icing the cake, otherwise the icing will be a runny mess.
Icing the cake (a basic guide):
  1. I must admit I’m not the greatest at icing cakes. I’ve never really put my mind to practicing (but I will and then I’ll impart my wisdom to you at a later stage). If you too are an icing novice, here’s what I did.
  2. Put one of the layers of cake onto your cake stand or plate. Squeeze out about half of the pink icing onto the middle of the cake (this is also a pretty good time to practice your rosette techniques!). Spread the icing outwards towards the edges with a knife or spatula, stopping about 1/4 of an inch away from the edge (if the pink icing goes over the edge it will mix in with the yellow later). The layer of icing itself should be about 1/4 of an inch thick.
  3.  Place the second layer carefully on top of the base layer.
  4. Place a dollop of the yellow icing in the middle and using a spatula or knife, spread a thin coat over the top of the cake. This forms a seal so that crumbs from the cake don’t become incorporated into the top layer of icing. Continue to spread the icing around the sides, then put the cake and the bags of icing in the fridge for half an hour to firm back up.
  5. Beginning in the middle again, add another, thicker layer of the yellow icing to the cake. Work outwards from the center and then do the sides. You can use a ruler to smooth out the surface perfectly (I wouldn’t trust the cleanliness of the rulers in my house though, they’re all covered in an array of glues and graphite. Therefore I skipped this part.).
  6. Decorate the top of the cake as you please. I made little rosettes around the edge and used writing icing in the middle. Make sure the icing is firm enough before you attempt this; pop it back in the fridge for a bit if you need to.
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