dairy free

Vegan chocolate cake

vegan chocolate cake

A very honest (and bad) photo!

I hosted my book group this week. We talked about Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Heart Goes Last’ which divided opinion and prompted a good debate. I thought it was rubbish.

I have only recently entered the Book Group World and always imagined it to be just an excuse to drink white wine on a school night. Whilst this may be true of some, ours is more a decaff tea and cake affair. This makes a nice change as most of my other social groups only seem to function when accompanied by copious amounts of alcohol.

One of our members is vegan which set me a welcome challenge to find an edible cake recipe that used neither eggs or dairy. A quick google search bought up thousands of options but I had to search hard to find one that used regular (albeit dairy free) store cupboard ingredients (no agave syrup, medjool dates, coconut butter or flax eggs here please!).

My supplies of vinegar and bicarbonate of soda have dramatically decreased since the children started using them in their ‘Kitchen Science’ experiments. But it’s the same reaction between the vinegar and bicarb that propels plastic rockets and creates mini volcanoes that makes this cake rise in the absence of eggs.

The cake is disappointingly bland until you add the silky, sticky glaze which transforms it into something rather delicious. I would serve it quite happily to non-vegans who I don’t think would complain. It’s not a looker though (as the photo above demonstrates). You could work the presentation if you like with rose petals. Nigella does this in her version.

Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe

For the cake

  • 180g of plain flour
  • 200g of caster sugar
  • 40g of cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ a teaspoon of salt
  • 215ml of warm water or coffee (I used decaff coffee)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 70ml of vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon of white or apple cider vinegar

For the glaze

  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 60g of vegan/dairy free margarine
  • 2 tablespoons of soya milk
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180oC.

Line a 20cm x 20cm (8 x 8 inch) square baking tin with parchment and grease with vegetable oil or vegan margarine.

Into a mixing bowl add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and stir with a fork until there are no lumps.

Measure the warm water/coffee, vanilla extract, vegetable oil and vinegar into a jug and pour into the dry ingredients.

Mix the ingredients together with a metal spoon until incorporated.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes.

Cool on a cooling rack while you make the glaze.

For the glaze, in a small saucepan melt the sugar, margarine, soya milk and cocoa powder and bring to a boil stirring all the time. Simmer for 2 minutes then remove from the heat and stir for an additional 5 minutes until the mixture is cooled and thickened. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the glaze onto cake and put in the fridge to set.

vegan chocolate cake 1

Unglazed

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Nigella’s dairy free olive oil chocolate cake

oliveoilchocoatecake

These are the things I haven’t given up for Lent.

Cake, coffee and a good book.

How can I not be happy with those marvellous things still in my life?

For me Nigella is the queen of cakes – even better than Mary or Delia – and this dairy free chocolate one is delicious and very simple to make.

There are a few members of my family who don’t eat dairy so this is a useful recipe to have in my ever expanding collection of chocolate cakes (this is the fifth one on this blog and that doesn’t even include chocolate brownies, muffins and fondants!).

oliveoilchocoatecake1

Nigella’s dairy free olive oil chocolate cake

Makes a big cake which cuts into 12 large slices

  • 150ml of regular olive oil, plus a little to grease the tin
  • 50g of cocoa powder
  • 125ml of boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 125g of plain flour (or, if you want a gluten free cake, use 150g of ground almonds instead, although this will result in a heavier cake best served warm with cream)
  • ½ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • A pinch of salt
  • 200g of caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Line a 23cm diametre spring form tin with baking parchment and grease lightly with olive oil.

Sift the cocoa powder into a small bowl or jug and stir in the boiling water until well combined and without lumps. Add the vanilla extract and leave to cool a little.

In another bowl, measure out the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt and stir to combine.

In a large bowl add the eggs, olive oil and sugar and whisk with an electric hand whisk on a high speed for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Nigella uses a free standing mixer with a paddle attachment but I don’t have one of these.

Add the cocoa mixture and mix briefly on a low speed until just incorporated.

Then add the flour and mix on low again until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until the cake is just set. Mine was perfect after 40.

Let the cake cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then turn out and leave to cool. Or, eat warm with cream or ice cream.

This cake keeps well but if my family is anything to go by it won’t last more than a day or so.

Cheat’s mango sorbet

mango sorbet

If you thought my last recipe (brown sugar ice cream with a miso caramel swirl) was a bit too complicated, then this one’s for you. It’s so simple that even my six year old daughter can make it without help.

I’m not snobby about the use of tinned mangoes here because in Nottingham really ripe, fresh ones are hard to come by. This sorbet is good to make alongside regular ice cream because it uses the egg whites that are not needed for that. The egg white helps to emulsify and stabilize the sorbet giving it a nice smooth texture.

Now all we need is some nice sunny weather (it’s pouring in Nottingham today).

Cheat’s mango sorbet

  • 2 x 425g tins of mango slices in syrup
  • 2 egg whites
  • The juice of half a lime (optional)

Put the tins of mango in the fridge until cold.

Pour the mangoes and their syrup into a blender, add the egg whites and puree until really smooth.

Churn in an ice cream maker until firm enough to scoop with a spoon (about 15 minutes)

Serve.

If you’re not eating the sorbet straight away then put the mix in an old ice cream container or Tupperware and place in the freezer. Take the sorbet out of the freezer for at least half an hour before you plan to serve.