Sunday, January 27, 2019

Vegan Chocolate Cake

The middle tier of my wedding cake was THIS chocolate cake recipe, modified to have a lovely orange flavor as well!
Hello, hello! It's Sunday, the 27th of January, which means that it's National Chocolate Cake Day. January 27th is also International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Since I just learned that apparently one third of all Americans don't believe it actually happened, it feels irresponsible to not at least give it a mention. In honor of that, I'm showing you my favorite chocolate cake recipe that's vegan and pareve. What's that? Well...

When you keep kosher, you have to eat in a very certain way. I'm not talking about the actual act of eating, but how you consume and prepare food and how you feed your family. Some agree that kosher eating may have been a first sort of 'health code' for the early world. Pigs, for example, which are considered unclean used to be more likely to carry disease. One of the big things, of course, is to not share meat and milk at the same table. This means if you have a steak, which you can have, you can't have cream or milk or cheese or butter with it. If you have french toast for breakfast, you can't eat even turkey sausage with it or later. You can't have it with the same meal, but you can have it later in the day. Of course, there's a lot of debate on how long you must wait, but you get the idea.

Now! Pareve is the sort of neutral zone of food. These foods are neither meat nor dairy and can be consumed with either one. These include, eggs, grains, vegetables, etc., and part of that etc. can include - if you do it right - chocolate cake. It's very easy to make a cake without dairy. Dairy provides fat and some lactic acid - if you replace that in the right way you end up with a wonderful-tasting result. The fat makes cakes tender, and the acid cuts glutens to keep it from getting stodgy and gross. The mixing method is, of course, just as important as the recipe.

This recipe is my absolute favorite, and it's the chocolate cake that I made for my wedding (as you see above)! It's wonderfully versatile, so feel free to use it as you see fit and got nuts with it. Heck, ADD nuts to it! It's your cake, do you.

 You'll notice that this particular recipe is in cups, not grams. This is just because I've made this cake too many times by volume and haven't ever done it by weight, so I haven't really measured it out in the way that you'd likely need to do it. If it bugs you too much, comment below and I'll do my best to convert them to grams in a timely manner.

I've used this particular recipe, which I've modified from MAC (Man About Cake's recipe) to fit some things. I just love this one because it's excellent for decorating and absolutely the most-versatile cake recipe I've ever come across. I'll put in ** my favorite variations!

B's Favorite Chocolate Cake
yields 2 9" cakes, perfect for stacking, or one large sheet cake
  • 2 c cane sugar
  • 2.5 c AP flour
  • 3/4 c dark cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c soy milk
  • 1/2 c strong coffee, left over from the pot that morning is fine(**if you're making a chocolate orange cake, you may substitute orange juice instead of coffee! If you're wanting something a little sexier and more decadent, substitute for a good red wine like a pinot noir or a cabernet sauvignon, but nothing too sweet like a shiraz. You can also substitute this liquid for a strong mint tea if you'd like to make a chocolate mint cake!)
  • 1/2 c tofu sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 3/4 c canola oil
  • 2 tsp good vanilla
  • **You can add chopped dried cherries that have been reconstituted in wine for a chocolate cherry cake
  • **You can add orange zest if you're making a chocolate orange cake, in addition to the orange juice substitute
  • **You can add miniature chocolate chips, but please make sure to toss them lightly in flour in the beginning so they can be suspended throughout the cake instead of all sinking to the bottom
There are two ways you can prepare this, one is faster than the other, but it's all going to depend on what kind of equipment you have available to you. Either way,  you'll choose your pans, lightly grease them and then dust the inside with cocoa powder, especially on the corners, to make sure you get it all out nicely, but to also make sure that the cake can climb the sides with ease. Don't grease and then not flour this. Trust me. 

Oh, and preheat your oven to 375.

Method One:

Take your sugar, baking soda, flour, cocoa powder, and salt and process it in the bowl of a food processor. You're pulsing it together just to get it to be fine and fully incorporated. In a large pitcher, combine your soy milk, the liquid of your choice, sour cream, oil, the extract/flavoring of choice, vinegar, and whisk it together to create one homogenous mixture. 

Add about a third of the liquid mixture to your food processor, and pulse for 2 or 3 seconds each, five or six times. Add another third, and repeat. With the final third, make sure you scrape the inside and bottom of the bowl before you do anything else. Pulse a few times to get it integrated, but then mix for about 10 seconds. Your batter is now ready! It should be shiny and smooth and beautiful.

Method Two

Take all of your dry ingredients into a very large bowl and stir with a whisk. Mix all liquids together as per the previous method, except for the oil. Pour the oil in to the dry mix in a thin stream, tossing it around to make it sort of a crumbly texture. Add in the rest of the ingredients by the third, stirring in a well in the middle slowly, no more than five or six turns on each addition, and stirring until well combined. Try not to slosh everything, but be sure to scrape the bottom and sides. The batter might be a hair lumpy, but that's okay, so long as everything is generally homogeneous. You're looking for uniformity, but honestly don't worry too much about over-mixing as you've got some acid to play with, considering the vinegar and your liquid of choice - be it coffee, wine, or orange juice - all have acid in them. Acid cuts glutens, so you're definitely helping yourself out. 

Pour into your prepared pans of choice.  You can use either round cake tins or a sheet pan. Whichever you've chosen, be sure to pop your cakes in to the center rack and then turn the oven down to 350. You wanted it at 375 because you wanted the oven nice and hot before you started. You may have noticed that you're using baking soda, which reacts quickly. You'll want to really let these bubbles form as quick as you can, but not burn everything.

Check your cakes at 25 minutes. It should be fully set in the middle and have pulled gently away from the sides. If it's not quite there yet, cook in 5 minute increments. Obviously, the pan you've chosen will determine the amount of cooking time, so just stay nearby. 

Evacuate your cake and allow to cool completely before handling. This is a very moist cake with a nice crumb, and should be treated as such. My favorite part about this cake is that it freezes  beautifully. Believe it or not, the freezer is the pastry chef's best friend, next to the oven. 

Once you've decided on a design, you can really let your imagination run wild.

You can make a buttercream using butter flavoring and vegetable shortening, you can make a ganache using 2:1 ratio of coconut cream to good chocolate...it's really all up to you! Earth Balance makes my favorite substitutes for butter, and Daiya makes my favorite cream cheese substitute, so you can make a cream cheese frosting. You can also make a vegan mirror glaze recipe using agar agar instead of gelatin!



You can decorate with candied flowers and mint leaves. You can even do something as simple as layering your cake with jam between each layer and dusting it with cocoa powder. Do with this recipe what you will. And remember that the Holocaust happened. 



I hope you've enjoyed this recipe! I hope you get out there and share this with friends; it's unhealthy to eat alone. 

Happy cooking and happy eating!

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