As I'm sure you can imagine, one of the most difficult things to figure out how to do as a vegan (well, at the start at least) is baking. You suddenly lose three of the key ingredients for baking - eggs, milk and butter - and become stranded, trying to figure out how to find substitutions for these ingredients.
Well, you'll be glad to hear that it's easier than you think. In a world where the Internet plays such a huge role in our lives, it is easy to find information about pretty much anything. Recipes for vegan cakes, for instance.
Truth be told, not all of them will be great. Whether it's the complexity of the recipe, the expense of the ingredients or the taste itself, it's impossible for every recipe to be appealing. But there are some recipes out there that are so easy and so delicious that you'd hardly even be able to tell that they are vegan.
One of my favourite recipes has to be the Chocolate Avocado Cake on BBC GoodFood. I first made this cake for my mum's birthday last year, then again as cupcakes just last weekend. No exaggeration when I say this is probably one of the best cake recipes I've ever found (and certainly the best vegan one so far!).
The ingredients are simple, the method is easy and the taste is delicious! I'd definitely recommend giving this a go if you have a chance.
For the cake:
- a little dairy-free sunflower spread, for greasing
- 1 large, ripe avocado (about 150g)
- 300g light muscovado sugar
- 350g gluten-free plain flour
- 50g good quality cocoa powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 400ml unsweetened soya milk
- 150ml vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 85g ripe avocado flesh, mashed
- 85g dairy-free sunflower spread
- 200g dairy-free chocolate, 70% cocoa, broken into chunks
- 25g cocoa powder
- 125ml unsweetened soya milk
- 200g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- gluten-free and vegan sprinkles, to decorate
The ingredients list talks about “gluten-free plain flour” and “gluten-free baking powder.” As I’m not gluten-free I didn’t bother and just used normal plain flour and baking powder, but it’s up to you.
For making cupcakes, I used the same quantities as those used for making a cake and ended up with about 20 (well 23 to be precise) cupcakes. This is just an estimate though as it does depend on how big your cupcakes are.
So, as the BBC GoodFood recipe suggested, I pre-set the oven to 160C (or 140C fan) - you could probably bake them at a slightly higher temperature for a shorter period of time, but I find that cakes are more soft and gooey when baked at a lower temperature. I then blitzed the avocado and sugar together in a food processor, then added all of the other cake ingredients (plus a little salt) and blitzed again. A food processor isn't 100% necessary but I find it so much quicker (well, apart from the washing up afterwards!).
And that's that from a cake batter prep perspective! I placed some cupcake cases in a silicone cupcake tray and filled each case about 3/4 of the way up with cake batter, before baking them in the oven for about 20-25 mins (this varies with oven temperature and size of cupcakes).
When I was satisfied with the bake of the cupcakes, I removed them from the oven and left them to rest and cool for about 10 minutes.
I then moved the cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool further, then proceeded with the icing. I melted the dark chocolate in the microwave and heated the soy milk and cocoa powder to a simmer in a pan. I then allowed these elements to cool before mixing them in a food processor with all of the other ingredients. Beating the icing with an electric whisk may give a lighter texture, but I find it easier to use a food processor as you don’t need to sieve the icing sugar or cocoa powder. I ended up adding probably about 100g extra icing sugar as I felt that the icing was too runny to hold its shape, but use your own judgement to decide on the thickness that suits you.
After the ingredients were fully combined, I transferred the icing to a piping bag with a star nozzle , piped a swirl on top of each cupcake, then enjoyed eating these tasty treats!
Good luck if you choose to try this recipe from BBC GoodFood (whether in cake or cupcake form)! It’s so easy and everyone I know who has tried it loves it. I hope you enjoy!
What are your favourite cake recipes?
Do you have any tips for vegan baking (or baking in general)?
* The ingredients list is identical to that given on BBC GoodFood but I explained the method in my own words. For a more concise and precise method, simply visit their website using the link above.