Today: How to have your (vegan) cake and eat it, too -- plus the simplest buttercream you'll ever make.
Vegan baking can be intimidating at first. We’re told that baking is a science, so how are we to make the experiment work without eggs, milk, or butter? Once upon a time, I thought that these ingredients were indispensable for perfectly fluffy and elegant baked goods. Then I went vegan, and realized that we vegans can have our cake and eat it, too.
No recipe proves this point more efficiently than this vegan chocolate layer cake. The recipe presents us with not one, but three “bet-you’d-never-guess-it-was-vegan” components. First is the moist, fluffy chocolate cake, which is every bit as easy to make as your current favorite. Promise. Next is the rich, decadent chocolate ganache, which is made better by creamy coconut milk.
More: Coconut milk also makes for a bang-up vegan rice pudding.
But the part of this cake I’m most proud of just may be the middle “buttercream” layer. It’s easy to make vegan buttercream with butter substitutes, but if you’re hoping to keep things a little simpler, try my secret trick: a mixture of canned pumpkin, almond butter, cocoa powder, and some sweetener. You’ll be shocked at how decadent and creamy this tastes, even though it’s dairy-free and vegetable-based. If you don’t have time to bake a cake, it’s not a terrible idea to make the buttercream anyway, and eat it with a spoon.
Serves 10 to 12
Vegan Chocolate Layer Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups almond, rice, or soy milk (I used soy)
2/3 cup melted coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups organic sugar
Creamy Chocolate Filling and Ganache
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons almond or cashew butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Photos by James Ransom