Monday, September 26, 2005

IMBB # 19 - Vegan Fudge Cake


A divergence from my traditional British baking; but not too far astray... With thanks to Becks and Posh for hosting the event.

First rule of cooking vegan is to concentrate. I got home from work, turned the oven on in readiness for my cake, and then went to the fridge to get the eggs out to bring them to room temperature. EGGS. Eggs have clearly no place in vegan cakes, and if one slips in then the game is over. Fortunately whilst sieving the flour (innocuous) I looked over at the carton and realised my mistake. Daft thing is that the main reason I wanted to take part in this IMBB event was to see how a cake turns out without eggs. I've made dairy-free cakes in the past, but never omitted all animal ingredients. To me a cake should be stuffed full of lovely ingredients such as eggs, milk, butter - all nice natural products and if bought from the right sources not too unfriendly to animals (I hope). This is a test to see how good a cake can be if it doesn't include any of these 'key' ingredients, and to see if it passes muster with my tasting panel.

My recipe comes from Oxfam's website, and is to promote their Fair Trade merchandise - Vegan Fudge Cake.

Having regained my concentration, I was a bit perturbed when reading through the recipe method to see soya flour included in the list of dry ingredients to first put together. No mention of soya flour on the ingredient list. Don't PANIC. Blimey, looks like a lot of water to add to the dry ingredients; are you sure that this isn't going to be a chocolate soup? A quick consultation of a few recipe books later, and I decide that the proportions of self-raising flour to sugar to fat look OK. Decide to add the water half at a time, and if all goes soupy add a little more flour. Proceed with caution (easy on the vinegar - I think this reacts somehow with the baking powder - could be wrong). Phew, looks fine.

Into the tin and into the oven. I baked for 25 mins as the recipe suggests, and then a further 10 minutes with a tin foil 'hat' on (the cake, silly), to prevent charring. Cake was pretty damp still after 25 minutes, but had a good looking crust to the top.



The fudge topping was a doddle to mix up, but as I had made a loaf cake I only used half the quantity of ingredients compared to the recipe. You need to keep whisking the icing until it thickens sufficiently to apply to the top of the cake. The (soya)margarine content means that the fudge icing keeps a nice gloss even when it has cooled completely.



So what did my tasters think? As the dish was pretty obviously a chocolate cake, I asked the tasters if they could determine what was missing from the cake. They were a little bit suspicious, but to be fair I am not sure that you could have spotted the lack of milk, butter of eggs from the appearance or the taste of the cake. The sponge rose nice and high, and the consistency was light and fluffy, with a good moistness. I thought the sponge was a little lacking in favour and would have been more tasty with a bit more cocoa powder added (or melted chocolate). However as the fudgy icing was so rich, the lack of strong flavour in the cake was not really too much of a problem. All in all I was pretty impressed by my animal-free baking. Eating vegan is obviously a piece of cake...



I some post-baking research about the combination of baking powder and vinegar. Baking POWDER needs a liquid to make it active, where as baking SODA need an acid such as vinegar to get it going. Although baking powder does contain a small amount of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), the water in the Vegan Fudge Cake recipe should have done the job of activation, so I am not convinced that the vinegar was really necessary. At least it didn't impart a fish'n'chip tang to the cake. Stephanie Jaworski explains the job of baking powder and soda so clearly on her Joy of Baking website, that it is best to read it for yourself if you are interested in learning more. Also, check out Bobby Thompson's site for more imaginative ideas for demonstrating the reaction between baking powder and water. I shall be buying a baking powder submarine directly.



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18 comments:

Siel said...

Oh! That looks so yummy!

Sam said...

I love this entry - I was wondering about how vegan chocolate cakes got made. I have a funny story to tell about not vegan cakes and how they were my downfall once. I'll see if I can somehow weave it into my posts this week for IMBB.

Thanks very much for taking part!
Sam

T said...

Vegan and fair trade? Im super impressed! This looks great- I know I wouldnt care if it was vegan or not, Im just interested in the chocolate :-)

Niki said...

I really like the look of this; particularly your excellent loaf shaped cake liner. I've seen them in photos but never in stores!
Just one point....did you mention there was butter in the fudge frosting? Isn't that vegan cheating...... ;-)

anna said...

Thanks for all your nice comments!

Sam, I look forward to reading your vegan cake story.

Hi Niki, the frosting had soya margarine in it. I'm not a fan of margarine (give me butter any day), but needs must. Actually turning margarine into chocolate fudge frosting is probably the best thing you can do with it!

KathyF said...

This looks a lot like a vegan chocolate cake I make all the time. Try adding coffee instead of water, that will bring out the cocoa flavor.

Also vinegar is a common ingredient in vegan cakes.

Here's a link to mine:
http://whatdoiknow.typepad.com/what_do_i_know/2005/07/wednesday_food_.html

KathyF said...

Well, it cut off my web address.

Add
2005/07/wednesday_food_.html
after the last slash.

KathyF said...

Okay, no it didn't. This is absolutely the last comment!

anna said...

Hi Kathy,

I have visited your site - your recipe looks great - will definitely give it a try. Any excuse to make another chocolate cake...

Nic said...

Looks lovely. I agree with Niki in really liking the loaf liner. I've never seen that before!

Clare Eats said...

That cake looks great! (But I think you should reword the icing... because it obviously doesn't have butter ;) )

anna said...

Thank-you eagled Clare and Nicki. I hadn't spotted that I had typed butter in my write-up - now duely changed to margarine! I had to go out and buy the margarine specially so I would like to stress that the topping was definitely dairy-free!!

Niki said...

Bleaaaahhh soya margarine. I'm with you on the butter-love! And - agreed. Fudge frosting would be the best way to use it up! :-)

Anonymous said...

do you know that you can boil flaxseed with water until it becomes gooey..like egg whites? it actually looks like egg white when I try spooning the white liquid out. Basically, you can use cheesecloth to strain the seeds out...but...necessary. One tablespoon will replace one egg...or one and a half.

Anonymous said...

In terms of the vinegar, I have actually both tasted and made chocolate cakes from vinegar. It is a surprisingly common practice in midwestern united states farming communities where at times eggs may not be available. They are surprisingly yummy and more moist and fluffy than cakes made with egg. In fact the first time I ate suck a cake I could not tell that it was eggless!

Emily said...

Hey, you said that you were surprised to see soya flour in the method as it wasn't in the ingredients list - did you use it in the end or did you bake the cake without soya flour? I'm salivating at the thought of this cake and want to make it but I have all the ingredients except soya flour and I was wondering if it would still work!

anna said...

Hi Emily,

I have made this cake 3 times now, and I have not used soya flour, just the 200g of self-raising flour. Each time has worked out fine, and the same recipe went down well at a three year old's birthday tea party! Hope you enjoy it ; )

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