For those who follow a plant-based lifestyle, craving a sweet delight like cake may lead to the discovery of a delightful and creative world: Vegan Baking.
To the uninitiated, it may seem intimidating, but it is simply about knowing the right substitutes for traditionally used items such as eggs, butter, and milk.
While these ingredients often contribute to the texture and taste of the cake, the vegan counterparts can do a similar or even superior job, allowing anyone to recreate classic favorites or nailing extravagant experiments.
Once armed with this newfound knowledge, it’s time to tie on your apron and dive forks-first into the world of vegan cake recipes.
Ranging from the basics like chocolate and vanilla to the more advanced ones like vegan cheesecakes or bundt cakes. It’s a sphere filled with umpteen possibilities, limited only by one’s culinary imagination.
As a crowning touch, we will also learn to beautify our vegan masterpieces with some vegan-friendly decorating techniques. Let’s sail on this exciting journey of baking delicious cakes while keeping it animal-product-free!
Understanding Vegan Baking
Understanding the Principles of Vegan Baking
Vegan baking involves using plant-based ingredients instead of products derived from animals. Key to vegan baking success is understanding and using effective substitutes for dairy products like milk, butter, and eggs – the common staples in traditional baking.
Vegan Substitutes for Baking Ingredients
Substitutes for eggs in vegan baking can range from applesauce, mashed bananas, to flax eggs (a combination of flaxseed meal and water), and commercial egg replacers. These egg alternatives mostly provide the necessary moisture and binding functions, however, they may significantly change the taste and texture of a cake, contributing to a denser, moist cake rather than a fluffy, light one.
Milk in traditional recipes can be replaced by various plant-based milks such as almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, and coconut milk in vegan baking. These alternatives serve the same function as cow’s milk, adding moisture and helping with the structure of the cake.
Butter is often replaced with oils like olive, canola, or coconut, or by vegan butter. Both options can impact the taste, moisture level, and structure of the cake.
Interplay of Vegan Ingredients
Choosing ingredients in vegan baking cannot be done in a one-size-fits-all approach, as the functions performed by eggs, milk, and butter have subtle complexities that may affect the outcome. Interchanging them may alter the taste and texture of your cake.
Eggs, for example, not only provide structure and binding, but some egg substitutes might also affect the taste of the cake.
Applesauce or mashed bananas add an extra hint of sweetness, leading to a richer taste, while flax eggs or commercial substitutes tend to retain the original flavor of the cake.
Similarly, the choice of plant-based milk can greatly influence the taste and texture of a vegan cake. For instance, coconut milk can add a delicate flavor and extra creaminess, while almond milk may lend a subtle nutty flavor, without significantly altering the cake’s texture.
Butter replacements also play a crucial role. While using oils brings moistness and maintains a neutral flavor, vegan butter can guarantee a rich and buttery taste that cannot be achieved by oils.
Understanding these nuances in ingredient choices is crucial for creating a vegan cake that matches one’s taste and texture preferences. With a little experimentation, it’s entirely possible to satisfy a sweet tooth with a cake that is not only vegan, but also delicious.
Practicing Vegan Cake Recipes
Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe
Start your vegan cake journey with a basic vegan chocolate cake, which is simple yet delicious. To begin, you will need:
- 1 cup of almond milk (or any other vegan milk)
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups of granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup of cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of vegetable oil or melted coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup of boiling water
Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9-inch cake pan.
Stir together the milk and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside for several minutes.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the oil, vanilla, and milk/vinegar mixture into your dry mix and stir until well mixed.
Pour in the boiling water, little by little, while constantly stirring until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 30 – 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
Vegan Vanilla Cake Recipe
Next, try a classic vegan vanilla cake, which is very versatile and can be paired with many types of frosting. The ingredients needed are:
- 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) All-Purpose Flour
- 1 cup (200g) White Sugar
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 cup (240ml) Almond Milk (or any other vegan milk)
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/3 cup (80ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 Tbsp White Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar
Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease two 7-inch cake tins.
In a mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt and mix together.
Then add the almond milk, vanilla, oil and vinegar and mix into a smooth batter.
Dividing evenly, pour the batter into the greased cake tins.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.
Let your cakes cool completely before frosting.
Advanced Vegan Cake: The Vegan Cheesecake
After you’ve mastered the basic cakes, you might want to try your hand at a vegan cheesecake. Ingredients will include:
- For the base: 1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs (ensure it’s vegan), 1/2 cup melted coconut oil.
- For the filling: 1.5 cups raw cashews (soaked overnight), 1 large lemon (juiced), 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted), 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp full-fat coconut milk, 1/2 cup maple syrup.
Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and lining a springform pan with parchment paper.
Blend the graham crackers until you have fine crumbs and mix them with the melted coconut oil.
Press this mixture onto the base of your cake pan, then pop into the oven for about 10 minutes.
Next, blend all the filling ingredients together until very smooth.
Pour this mixture onto your base, then return to the oven for another 50 minutes, or until the edges look slightly dried out.
Allow the cheesecake to set in the fridge overnight before serving.
Experimenting With Variations and Flavors of Vegan Cakes
Once you become comfortable with these basic vegan cake recipes, feel free to start experimenting with different flavors and ingredients.
For example, you can add vegan chocolate chips or crushed fruits like strawberries, bananas, or blueberries to the batter.
You can also experiment with different frostings – from vegan cream cheese frostings to simple sugar glazes.
Decorating Vegan Cakes
Choosing Vegan Icing and Frostings
For decorating vegan cakes, starting with vegan-friendly icings and frostings is essential.
Many conventional frostings contain milk or egg-based products, so check for vegan alternatives at your local supermarket or online.
Common vegan substitutes could include plant-based milk, vegan butter, and aquafaba – the water leftover from a can of chickpeas.
Try simple recipes, like vegan buttercream frosting, which usually consists of vegan butter, powdered sugar, plant-based milk, and vanilla extract.
DIY Edible Vegan Decorations
Edible decorations can easily be made vegan. Consider fruit for a beautiful and natural alternative. Thin slices of citrus, sprinkles of powdered sugar or cocoa, fresh berries, or edible flowers offer an array of colors and visual interest.
For creating colorful designs, vegan food dye is available, and you can make your own colored sugar by mixing sugar with vegan food dye.
Vegan sprinkles and other ready-made cake decorations are typically available online and in health food stores.
Experiment with Color Schemes and Themes
Just like any cake, a vegan cake can be decorated according to different color schemes and themes. If you’re using food dyes, ensure they are vegan as some dyes contain animal products. For a natural approach, use things like beet juice for pink, turmeric for yellow, and matcha powder for green. When it comes to themes, your imagination is the limit!
Piping Techniques for Vegan Cakes
Piping vegan icing requires the same technique as any other icing. Begin by preparing your vegan icing, filling your piping bag securely, and selecting the appropriate tip for your design needs. Whether you’re creating rosettes, zigzags, or intricate piping details, practice makes perfect. Don’t get disheartened if your first few attempts aren’t perfect. Keep trying and soon you’ll be creating stunning vegan cake decorations.
Marzipan and Fondant Decorations
Both marzipan and fondant can be made vegan and are fantastic mediums for creating themed decorations. For example, Christmas cakes might feature miniature marzipan snowmen, or an anniversary cake might be adorned with delicate fondant flowers. Ensure to use vegan-friendly food colors if you’re planning to dye your marzipan or fondant.
In conclusion, there is an abundance of vegan-friendly options when it comes to cake decorations, ranging from natural fruit and vegetable colors to plant-based frostings, and from marzipan to fondant decorations. With practice, these techniques can result in stunning and delicious vegan cakes.
As we conclude this delectable voyage, it’s clear baking a vegan cake isn’t about missing out; it’s about discovering a whole new realm of incredible flavors and textures. We have not only understood the underlying principles and key substitutions but also ventured into crafting a variety of delightful cakes, each catering to diverse palates, from the straightforward yet comforting chocolate and vanilla to the rich cheesecakes and bundt cakes.
The art of decorating our masterpiece is the final chapter of our voyage, drawing upon a palette of vegan-friendly icing and edible decorations. With technique, creativity, patience, and practice, we have decked out our cakes in their best attire, ready for admiring eyes and eager taste buds. After all, a cake isn’t just a cake. It’s an edible testament to love, patience, creativity, and, in our case, a commitment to ethical, delicious food.