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10 August 2015

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Regular visitors to my blog will know how much I love baking (I'm incredibly excited that GBBO is back on our screens), but until very recently there was a particular type of cake which I had yet to tackle: vegan cake.

The perfect opportunity for me to remedy this came up earlier this month, when I offered to bake my sister-in-law's birthday cake. Her and her partner are both vegan, so there really was no way out of it! I started off by Googling for some inspiration, and was fairly surprised at the limited options available - there really aren't that many recipes for vegan birthday cakes on the internet, it seems. But then I stumbled upon a beautiful recipe from one of my favourite chefs - Jamie Oliver.

I adapted the recipe here and there, bought myself an array of dairy-free ingredients, and set aside a few hours to produce what I hoped would be a yummy cake.

I have to say, I was pretty pleased with the result!


The cake was gooey, indulgent, and pretty damn chocolatey.


I managed to practice my palette knife technique, swirling the icing on top with a scattering of grated dark chocolate and fresh raspberries.


^ We couldn't help but notice how big the raspberries were! Good old British produce.

I think it's really great to have a recipe like this in your collection (maybe add it to your recipe book?), and I have to say, I am tempted to bake this cake in future even if there are no vegans present!

So here you are, a recipe for a chocolate cake which is yummy for everyone. This includes my adaptations and editing.

(Note - I upscaled all the quantities as I wanted to make a large cake. The quantities below are for standard 20cm cake tins; if you want to use 23cm cake tins like I did, multiply everything by 1.25 to get the correct amounts!)

Ingredients 
For the cake - 
300g dairy-free margarine plus extra for greasing (I used Vitalite)
300g plain flour
300g golden caster sugar (I didn't have golden in my cupboard so used standard caster sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used Sainsbury's vanilla flavouring)
200g organic soya yoghurt
2 teaspoons baking powder
70g cocoa powder
6 tablespoons rice milk
A punnet of fresh raspberries

For the icing -
200g icing sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
100g dairy-free margarine
2 tablespoons organic soya yoghurt

To decorate -
Dairy-free dark chocolate
Fresh raspberries

Equipment -
2 spring-form cake tins
Greaseproof paper
Electric mixer (or wooden spoon)
Large mixing bowl
Spatula (I find these best for folding - I use this one from Lakeland)
Sieve
Skewer
Wire cooling rack

Method
1. Pre-heat your oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas mark 5. Grease your two cake tins with some of the dairy-free margarine and line the bottoms with greaseproof paper. Dust the sides with flour to prevent sticking.

2. Beat the margarine and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The original recipe says to do so for around 5 minutes, but it took less than that with my hand-held mixer. 

3. Add the vanilla extract and yoghurt, and mix until combined. At this stage, my mixture looked exactly like scrambled eggs and I began to panic. But fear not, this is what's meant to happen!

4. Sieve in to the mixture your flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, and fold through.

5. Add the rice milk and stir briefly until you have a nice, smooth batter. Try not to eat too much of the raw batter like I did... 

6. Divide the batter between your two greased cake tins, and place on the middle shelf of your pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. My oven shelf is not big enough for my two large tins, so I placed one on the middle shelf and one on the bottom shelf. The middle one was ready after about 20 minutes, so I took that one out and moved the bottom one up for an extra 5 minutes or so. The best test you can do is the skewer test! Also look for whether the cake has started to come in from the edges of the tins slightly, and whether it is springy to touch - these are signs that it's ready.

7. Leave the cakes to cool for 5-10 minutes once they're out of the oven, then take them out of their tins (carefully!) and leave them to cool completely on a wire cooling rack. You might want someone to help you with this if you're a bit clumsy like I am. Surprisingly, I managed to do it on my own this time - I usually have to shout to my boyfriend for help!

8. Once the cakes are completely cool, it's time to ice them and assemble! For the icing, sieve the icing sugar and cocoa powder into your mixing bowl, add the margarine, and beat until smooth. When I first combined the ingredients, it genuinely looked like sand. I was very puzzled and didn't know what else to do apart from continue to beat with my mixer - and all of a sudden, I was looking down at beautiful, glossy butter icing! Stir in the soya yoghurt to combine to make it even smoother.

9. Place one of your sponges on a plate, and spread half of the icing on top. Scatter over your fresh raspberries - it's good if you can have quite a few of them close to the edge of the cake, as they will then poke out of the middle looking really yummy! Sandwich the second sponge on top very carefully, press down lightly, and spread the remaining icing on top. I used my palette knife to swirl from the outside in, then decorated the cake with more raspberries and some grated dark chocolate. If it's a birthday cake, make sure you leave room for candles!

Et voila - a magnificent chocolate cake.


Have you baked a vegan cake before? Do you fancy trying this recipe? If you do, be sure to send me a photo and let me know what you think! Leave me a comment below, or tweet me.


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