Vegan Haupia Cake

img_3068     I adapated this Vegan Haupia Cake from a recipe by Roy Yamaguchi, a famous chef from Hawaii.  Haupia (pronounced HOW-pee-ya) is something we would enjoy at luaus on Kauai, back in the day.  It’s traditionally a cool and refreshing coconut pudding, often cut into squares.  Here it’s a softer pudding that’s been infused into a sponge cake.  It’s a bit richer than the original this way, but so ono (delicious).  We’ve eliminated the animal cruelty and the cholesterol, but added a sprinkling of toasted coconut.  You could use a vegan white or yellow cake, but the original recipe uses a sponge cake, which provides great texture.   Here is the vegan sponge cake recipe I use.  I make both layers and leave one in the freezer for future use.

VEGAN HAUPIA CAKE

Makes one 9-inch cake

INGREDIENTS
a single 9-inch layer of vegan sponge cake, frozen and set to partially thaw
4 Cups unsweetened full-fat coconut milk  (two 15 oz. cans is fine)
1.5 Cups water, divided
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2.5 teaspoons coconut extract
2 Tablespoons shredded sweetened coconut, for topping

INSTRUCTIONS
Remove the single layer of cake from the freezer to let it thaw by half.  You will slice it into two layers, and it’s easier to slice if it’s about half frozen at that time.  In a small dry skillet, stir and toast the shredded sweetened coconut over medium heat–do not walk away, it only takes a couple of minutes.

To prepare the haupia, place the coconut milk, 1 Cup of the water and the sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a low boil, stirring a bit.  In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and the remaining 1/2 Cup water together to make a smooth slurry.  Add the slurry to the coconut mixture, and stir until the mixture returns to a low boil and thickens.  Remove from heat, let cool 5 minutes, and then stir in coconut extract.

Cut a thin slice off the top of the cake layer to level it flat.  Slice the cake in half horizontally to make two somewhat-even layers.  Place the bottom layer in a cake pan.  Pour the haupia over the bottom layer to a thickness of about 1/2 inch (this will save some for the top).  Place the top half of the cake layer over the haupia-soaked bottom layer, very gently pressing down.  Pour more of the haupia over the top of the cake, using a spatula or the back of a spoon to gently spread it evenly.  Refrigerate the cake for 3 to 4 hours to set the haupia.  When ready to serve, garnish with the toasted shredded coconut.
img_3064  Bottom layer back in the cake pan and soaking in haupia.

Vegan Victoria Sponge Cake

img_3091     I made this recipe for Vegan Victoria Sponge Cake three times before it came out right.  On this side of the pond, the winning flour turned out to be Gold Medal Self Rising Flour.   I could see serving this for birthdays, afternoon tea, and other special occasions.  It’s humble but rich and so very English, with its layer of fruit jam and judicious dusting of powdered sugar on top.  Because this is a British recipe, I got out my trusty food scale.  Then I made sure my baking soda was fresh, and stuck with soy milk for these trials.  I also successively reduced the Golden Syrup, with good results.  In future, I’d like to try making it with almond milk and coconut milk.  And there will be a next time because this cake is good, really good.  Take that, Great British Baking Show.

VEGAN VICTORIA SPONGE CAKE RECIPE

Makes one 9-inch cake of two layers

INGREDIENTS
400g self-rising flour, plus extra for dusting
1-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
250g vegan sugar
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Sticks  (for greasing the pans)

115ml safflower oil  (2/3 Cup)
400ml soy milk, plain organic unsweetened  (supposedly 14 oz.)
1 Tablespoon Lyle’s Golden Syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 Tablespoons strawberry jam
5 oz. strawberries, halved or quartered, for decoration  (optional)

for the vegan buttercream
125g Earth Balance Organic Whipped Buttery Spread  (not the baking sticks)
250g powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease well two 9-inch regular cake pans.  Line the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper traced and cut to fit.  Flour each pan and tap to shake out any excess.   In a large mixing bowl, dry whisk the flour, baking soda and sugar.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the oil, plant milk, Golden Syrup and vanilla, lifting the whisk to see that all the syrup is dissolved.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and using an electric hand mixer, mix for 2 minutes until thick and creamy.

Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake about 35 minutes until risen and cooked through.  Use a cake tester (such as a skewer) and make sure it comes out clean.  Leave pans to cool on racks for 15 minutes.  Run a butter knife around the inside sides of the pans,  remove cakes from pans and cool completely on racks (an hour or two).

While cakes are cooling, make the filling.  With the electric hand mixer, beat together the Earth Balance Organic Whipped Buttery Spread, powdered sugar and vanilla.  Store in fridge if not using right away.

Spread the jam evenly over the bottom layer, pushing the jam a bit over the edges (so it will be seen once the cake is assembled).  Spread the buttercream on the underside of the top layer.  Put the top layer onto the bottom layer, so that the jam and buttercream meet.  Holding a sieve up over the cake, dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar.  If the top layer is sliding at all, push 2 or 3 shortened skewers into the cake.

Notes:  You could lighten this up and just use one layer, sliced horizontally in two, and then reduce the frosting.  Many bakers use a food scale for measuring ingredients, as it’s more accurate.  It’s interesting to note that I’m baking at sea level and this recipe worked fine for me anyway.  I notice many of the Victoria Sponges online have only a dusting of powdered sugar on top (no frosting on top), so that’s what I’ve done here.  I like Dickinson’s Preserves, particularly the Pure Cascade Mountain Red Raspberry, and the Pure Pacific Mountain Strawberry.  I found the original recipe had barely enough jam and frosting, so have increased those a bit, and reduced the fat ratio in the buttercream.  For this recipe, you will need two 9″ cake pans, some parchment paper, and a sieve for the powdered-sugar dusting.  I use this method to get cakes out of pans, except I use a baking rack instead of a plate or cardboard, and I don’t use plastic wrap.  Let the cake sit on the rack for an hour at least, to cool completely, before wrapping for the freezer, or icing.  Do NOT try to use the baking sticks for the buttercream, because they are made only for baking.  The Buttery Spread has a nice butter flavor.
img_3097  Fresh strawberries can go in the middle, but it’s optional.  I just wanted the pure jammy preserves.
img_3081  My cake layers came out different sizes, so I just used the shorter layer on the bottom, no worries.

Vegan Brandied Cherry Sauce

cherry sauce     I created this easy and delicious vegan Brandied Cherry Sauce specifically for the Daiya New York Cheezecake I was serving at a small dinner party.  This sauce can easily be made without the alcohol too.  And because we’re using frozen cherries, it can be made in any season.  Also, if you want organic–it’s possible to find frozen organic cherries, while it can be difficult to find fresh organic cherries.  This would also be good on a vegan Black Forest Cake.

BRANDIED CHERRY SAUCE

Makes enough for the top of a cheesecake or black forest cake.

INGREDIENTS
10 oz. bag frozen cherries
1/3 Cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon scant fine sea salt
2 Tablespoons Kirschwasser  (or water)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
In small saucepan, dry whisk sugar, cornstarch and sea salt.  Add Kirschwasser or water, and stir.  Add cherries and cook over medium heat, stirring often until thickened and bubbly.  Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes.  Add extracts and stir to combine.

Note:  It takes 15 or 20 minutes for this to thicken up, so I make this while I’m working near the stove, so I can stir it often.  I used Dekuyper brand Kirschwasser.  If you can find Oregon brand Dark Sweet Cherries in the 15 oz. can, they are a good substitute for frozen cherries, but remember to drain them first, and discard the can liquid.

Vegan Coconut Pecan Frosting for German Chocolate Cake

german chocolate cake     This vegan Coconut Pecan Frosting for German Chocolate Cake is directly from that fabulous recipe site, VegWeb.  It’s so good, and it’s easy!  Please note that this is really only enough for one layer of cake, and I have not tried doubling the recipe.  It would also be great on a pan of brownies.  The classic recipe for this frosting calls for four egg yolks and 12 ounces of evaporated milk.   No need.

COCONUT PECAN FROSTING FOR GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE

Makes enough for one 9-inch layer of cake, or a pan of brownies

INGREDIENTS
1.5 Cups sweetened flake coconut
1 Cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
1 stick Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
3/4 Cup vegan sugar
1/2 Cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
In a medium-to-large saucepan put all ingredients except vanilla.  Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 12 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat, and immediately stir in vanilla.  Let cool for a few minutes, and then pour on cake and spread while frosting is still warm and pliable.  Let set up for a few minutes before serving.  Supposedly, it sets up faster if you cover it and place it in the fridge, but I found this unnecessary.

Notes:  In my opinion, this is really only enough to frost one layer of cake.  I have not tried doubling the recipe.  Measure out one Cup of pecan halves and then roughly chop them.  I used WestSoy Organic Unsweetened Plain Soymilk.

vegan Figgy Toffee Pudding by Vedge

IMG_2721    This vegan Figgy Toffee Pudding is from the Vedge cookbook.  It does taste like the excellent dessert we were served at Vedge restaurant in Philadelphia.   I increased the baking powder in the cake by 1/2 teaspoon because there are three cups of flour in this recipe and a baking standard is to use 1 teaspoon of Baking Powder per cup of flour.  Aside from that, I followed the recipe exactly, and the cake rose very nicely, but was still somewhat dense.  Now that I’ve made this, I recommend reducing the butter in the Figgy Toffee Sauce by half.  It was oily enough that I chilled it in the fridge and with a spoon scraped off most of the butter that rose to the top, and it was still very good.  The cookbook calls for serving this with a homemade madeira-quince ice cream.  I was short on time, so served it instead with Coconut Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream, which was also delicious.  No fresh figs on my tree this time of year, but the sauce came out great without them.  Heavy on the sugar, a half serving is plenty.  This is delicious enough for special occasions and Holidays.  Figgy Pudding dates back to 16th century England, and was traditionally served at Christmas.  As Dickensian a dessert as it gets, it was even on Bob Cratchit’s table in A Christmas Carol.   This is the fourth recipe I’ve made from the Vedge cookbook so far (two others are blogged here), and they’ve all turned out splendidly.  Vedge is my favorite vegan cookbook right now.

Vegan Lychee Buttercream Frosting

IMG_0955    My lovely cousin Munam brought me some canned Lychee from Rockville.  And so I created this Lychee Buttercream Frosting to go with the Lychee Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World.   I was a bit skeptical about the recipe for the cupcake itself because it has a whopping 5 Tablespoons of flaxseed in it, but these cupcakes are very good–slightly dense and fruity, but still definitely cake.  I used only 1/3 Cup of finely-chopped lychee fruit and only 1/4 Cup of oil in the recipe, and they were still great.  I remember eating lots and lots of lychee as a kid on Kauai when we would pick them right off the branches.  This is my first experience with canned lychee and although it’s been decades, the fruity floral perfume of this Lychee Buttercream Frosting takes me right back to the Garden Isle.

VEGAN LYCHEE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

4 Cups confectioners/powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
3 Tablespoons lychee syrup/juice from a can of lychee
1 Tablespoon water
1/2 drop red food coloring (optional)

In a mixing bowl, bring Earth Balance Buttery Sticks to room temperature.  Add all other ingredients and mix with an electric mixer until smooth.  If you want the lychee flavor to be milder, use only 2 Tablespoons of lychee syrup and add 1 Tablespoon of water.  I’m going from memory, but it seems to me that the canned lychee flavor is a bit more intense than the fresh lychee.  Canned lychee are often available in Oriental grocery stores.  I used a 20 ounce can of lychee, so I had plenty of syrup to work with for both the cupcakes and this frosting.

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

IMG_0089  From the library, I borrowed Chloe’s Vegan Desserts by Chloe Coscarelli.   Had to get it through interlibrary loan, and order it twice, but it finally arrived.  These Salted Caramel Cupcakes were very easy to make, despite the caramel flavor achieved in the frosting.  I’ve never wanted to fuss with caramel since those recipes normally involve the words “candy thermometer” but this could not have been easier.  I pre-measured the dry ingredients one day, and made the frosting and put that in the fridge.  So when it came time to actually make the cupcakes, it went very fast, had them in the oven within 30 minutes.  No eggs here, Chloe uses her signature baking soda and vinegar combo instead.  They rose just fine and tasted great.  I sprinkled the frosted cupcakes with a few crystals of Pyramid Salt that I picked up years ago from Fauchon in Paris, but any nice finishing salt would do.   I’d avoid kosher salt, however, for its strong chemical taste.  Ok, so the flavor was perfect, fairly gourmet and a bit different.  My only complaint is that the bottoms of the cupcakes themselves were a bit oily.  Next time, I would sub out half the oil and add in some applesauce to replace it.  It also made too much frosting, so I put at least a cup of frosting in the freezer.  Next time, I would also make sure to spray the paper baking cups with cooking spray, as there was a bit of sticking on the sides, despite the slight-oily quality of the cake bottoms.  But, with these small changes, I would definitely make these for an occasion, such as a birthday, book club, or a dinner party–very good!  You must keep these in the fridge since the frosting is buttercream, so make sure they come to room temperature before serving.   p.s.  Don’t think I’m being harsh–these cupcakes (as per the original recipe) still beat any restaurant cupcake to hell.

Vegan Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe is from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, and wow, is it good.   It’s rich and creamy but somehow light.  It has the pumpkin flavor without being cloying, and yet it’s also got that classic cheesecake tang and texture.  I would take this to any Thanksgiving, and serve it at any dinner party.  On the other hand, it’s easy to make, and you can throw it together in under 30 minutes, not counting cooking and chilling times.
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Vegan Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

Servings:  8 to 10

INGREDIENTS
8 ounces Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (look for the non-hydrogenated one in the yellow container)
12 ounces extra-firm silken tofu, such as Mori Nu (Morinaga) brand in the little box
1/2 Cup light agave nectar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
3 Tablespoons lemon juice, or the juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 Cup pumpkin puree  (canned, not pumpkin pie mix)
2 teaspoons rum (optional)  (I used Malibu brand coconut rum)
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg  (fresh is preferred but not required)

1 pre-made 8-inch graham-cracker crust  (or oatmeal cookie crust)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Put the first set of ingredients (Tofutti through vanilla) in a food processor and puree until completely, silky smooth.
Remove a heaping Cup of this mixture from the processor and spread it in the bottom of the crust.
Add the next set of ingredients (pumpkin through nutmeg) to the ingredients remaining in the food processor, and process until well blended.
Smooth the entire mixture carefully over the white layer in the crust.
Bake until the center is almost set, about 50-60 minutes.
Insert a toothpick–if it comes out liquidy and cold, give it more time until the center is firm.
Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan on rack.
Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least three hours.
Serve to delighted guests  (don’t tell them it’s vegan until after it’s eaten).

Notes:  I did not bake longer than 60 minutes.  If you don’t know what to do with the leftover pumpkin, dogs like a spoonful or two in their dinner,  but don’t give it to them all at once, if you know what I mean.  The original recipe called for only 1.5 Tablespoons of lemon juice.  My friend Piliki made it with her fresh, pureed pumpkin.  She put the pumpkin in a fine sieve and let it drain well and pressed excess moisture out of it.  She also baked it for 65 minutes, and said, “It was perfection.”

Vegan Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

These little Vegan Pumpkin Whoopie Pies are such a nice treat for Halloween or Thanksgiving.  Lars gave them a thumbs up, and I’m impressed by how perfect the cake and spices are.    I’ve increased the filling amount below, because it made a lot more cake than the instructions said it would.  I also reduced the oil.  They’re perfectly spiced, thanks to a great recipe by Valeria on Food. com.   I’ll definitely make these again next year.

p.s. They freeze beautifully, so you could make them ahead.

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Vegan Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Makes 24

INGREDIENTS
3 Cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2.5 Cups brown sugar
3/4 Cup safflower oil
2 egg substitutes  (I used 1 Tablespoon Ener G powder plus 1/4 Cup of water, frothed or whisked)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Cups canned organic pumpkin  (I used Trader Joe’s)

The filling
3/4 Cup Tofutti Cream Cheese
3 Cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons vegan butter or vegan shortening

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or grease them).
In a large mixing bowl, dry whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
In a separate bowl, stir together brown sugar, oil, egg replacer, vanilla extract and pumpkin.
Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.
Drop by rounded Tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until center of cookie springs back when lightly pressed.  I baked mine for 16 minutes in my accurate, electric oven.
Cool thoroughly on wire racks before spreading with filling.

While the cakes are baking, you can make the cream cheese filling:  In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together vegan cream cheese and vegan butter.
Mix in powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until thoroughly blended.  Chill in fridge.

To assemble, spread a dollop of filling on the bottom of one thoroughly-cooled cake and make a “sandwich” with a 2nd cake.  Wrap individually as they tend to dry out.

Notes:  These come out approximately 3 inches across.  They freeze beautifully.  I used Trader Joe’s canned organic pumpkin and found it superior to other brands I’ve tried, silkier and lighter in color.

Nutrition:  Calories 250, Fat 10, Saturated Fat 2, Trans Fat 0, Polyunsaturated Fat 1, Monounsaturated Fat 6, Cholesterol 0, Sodium 107, Carbs 39, Fiber 1, Sugars 22, Protein 2, Vitamin A 63%, Vitamin C 1%, Calcium 2%, Iron 5%.

Ginger Nutmeg Spice Cupcakes with Date Caramel Drizzle

I brought these to Book Club last night, and they were very well received, with one comment being, “That is the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten.”  I don’t know if I’d go that far, but Chloe Coscarelli won first place on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars with this recipe for Ginger Nutmeg Spice Cupcakes with Date Caramel Drizzle.  Then Chloe published this recipe in her first cookbook Chloe’s Kitchen.  I have made several of the savory recipes from that cookbook and liked them, most notably, her vegan Bolognese sauce.  On that same show, she also made Creme Filled Chocolate Orange Cupcakes (which I have not tried yet).  Chloe also has cooking videos on various sites, including YouTube.  Another reason I tried this particular cupcake recipe is because my friend Piliki’s daughter made them and their whole family thought they were really delicious.  OK, back to this recipe.  I could not find it published legally online, so I’ll just give my comments about this recipe below:

I like how you can make various components of this recipe ahead of time and she gives clear instructions for freezing, etc.  I made the Date Drizzle one day, and the frosting the next.  I even measured out the dry ingredients a day ahead and put them in a canning jar, so the day of, this was all very quick to put together.

The Caramel Date Drizzle adds a subtle dimension that I didn’t expect, so I’m glad I made it, and it only took 5 minutes to make.

The cake itself is very light, perfect.

On the frosting, I would try cutting the shortening in half next time, although my husband had no complaints at all.  He told me I should take these down to the local cupcake shop and let them experience what a real cupcake should taste like. 

Cranberry Pumpkin Cake a la Maida Heatter

This dark, rich cake studded with walnuts and fresh cranberries just screams Thanksgiving.  If you’ve never heard of her, Maida Heatter is a James-Beard-award-winning baker with nine cookbooks to her name.  I adapted this recipe from Maida Heatter’s Best Dessert Book Ever.  I was looking for a serious, elegant dessert for Thanksgiving, and chose this Cranberry Pumpkin Cake.  I was wondering if it would turn out, due to the four large eggs called for in the original recipe.  The heavy spice amounts made me think twice, as did the fact that I did not have an 18-cup capacity tube pan.  I do however, have the cheapest Bundt pan known to woman; a pale-green, 12-cup, paper-thin aluminum Nordic Ware pan that I seem to remember buying at a grocery store.  I put the tube pan on top of a sheet pan, in case it overflowed (it didn’t).  This finished cake, sitting on the plate like a dark crown, only needs a dusting of confectioners sugar or a drizzle of icing glaze that you could flavor any way you want.  This would consist of about two cups of confectioners sugar with a few tablespoons of fresh orange juice, and some zest.  You could adorn it further with minced candied ginger, or sprinkle with dragees or edible glitter, etc.  Maida promises that the nuts and berries don’t sink in the batter, and they don’t.  This could also be brought out at breakfast the next morning and served with coffee or hot tea, with or without the icing drizzle.  Notes at bottom will tell you how I simplified this recipe.  More photos below.
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Vegan Cranberry Pumpkin Cake a la Maida Heatter

12 portions

INGREDIENTS
5 ounces walnuts, chopped fine
7 or 8 ounces of fresh cranberries
3 Cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons vanilla paste (this is my addition)
1 15 oz. can of 100% pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 Cups granulated sugar
1-1/4 Cup vegetable oil (safflower or canola)
4 Tablespoons flax meal plus 3/4 Cup of water
    (this is your eggs substitute)
Cooking Spray with flour (such as Pam brand)

DIRECTIONS
Adjust a rack one-third up from bottom of oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wash and drain cranberries, and set them on a towel to dry.
Combine flax meal and water, whisk with a fork and set aside to gel.
Generously spray with flour-infused cooking oil, a one-piece 10×4.25 inch tube pan with an 18 cup capacity and no design.  I used the store-brand cooking spray from Giant grocery store, but make sure it has the flour in it.  I used a 12-Cup capacity tube pan and it was just barely big enough.
Put sprayed tube pan in refrigerator while you prepare ingredients.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger, pepper, cloves, nutmeg and allspice, and set aside.
In a really large bowl, mix with an electric mixer the pumpkin, sugar, oil and vanilla.
Add the flax meal and water mixture, and mix again.
On low speed, gradually add the whisked dry ingredients, beating only until smooth.
Fold in the nuts and cranberries.
Turn batter into the prepared tube pan, and smooth the top.
Set the tube pan on a baking sheet if your tube pan is less than 18-cup capacity.
Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Insert a cake tester into the middle of the cake, all the way to the bottom, and make sure it comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes.
Cover the cake with a baking rack and invert the pan and rack upside down.
Wait for cake to gently fall down onto rack, and remove pan.
Leave cake to cool while it is right-side up.

Notes:  I did not wish to toast the walnuts, or bake a chocolate cake so that I could coat the bundt pan with cake crumbs, both of which the original recipe calls for.  The original recipe calls for up to 12 ounces of fresh cranberries and 6 ounces of chopped walnuts.  I only had a 12-cup capacity Nordicware bundt pan, and the cake did not overflow in my accurate, electric, non-convection oven.  See more photos below.

Vegan Banana Cake a la Pichet Ong

Chef Pichet Ong says his recipe is the best banana cake ever.  He makes it with “baby bananas” which I actually used to grow, but we called them “apple bananas” because of their flavor.  I can attest that baby bananas are indeed more flavorful than your standard, full-size grocery-store banana, but I only had regular organic bananas.  I switched out the honey for agave syrup, used cake flour (because I had it in the pantry), vegan sour cream, and cut the cinnamon in half.  I wanted to taste the bananas foremost, and have the cinnamon take a back seat.  And I used Florida Crystals brown sugar.  After tasting it, Lars and I both agreed that any more cinnamon would be too much.  Instead of chocolate chips, I added finely chopped walnuts and the resulting cake was rich but delicate with just a hint of spice.  This is a keeper, even when made with regular bananas.  I hope Pichet Ong will explore cooking more compassionately and realize he doesn’t need eggs or dairy, especially since bananas are often used as an egg substitute in baking.  We ate it hot with a little Earth Balance vegan butter on it, and it was so darn good.  Please check out my other excellent vegan Banana Flaxseed Quick Bread with Dates and Walnuts.
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Vegan Banana Cake a la Pichet Ong

Makes one 8.5×4.5 inch cake, about 8-10 servings

INGREDIENTS
1/3 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks vegan butter at room temperature,  plus more for greasing pan
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 cup Florida Crystals organic brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 bananas, mashed with a potato masher
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or real vanilla extract
Ener G egg replacer to equal one egg (1.5 tsp Ener-G plus 2T water, frothed)
1/2 cup Tofutti vegan sour cream at room temperature (non-hydrogenated)
1/3 Cup finely chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Lightly butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan and set aside.  I put my loaf pan in the fridge until I was ready for it.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside.

Put the vegan butter, agave syrup, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the bananas and beat on medium speed about 1 minute at most. The bananas should be smashed, with a few small chunks remaining.

Turn the speed to medium-low and beat in the egg substitute until incorporated.
Turn the speed to low and gradually add the sifted flour mixture, mixing just until no traces of flour remain, about 10 seconds.
Add the sour cream and mix until the batter has only a few remaining white streaks, about 10  seconds.
Gently fold in the finely chopped walnuts.

Transfer the batter to the greased pan. Bake in the center of the oven until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool completely on the rack.

Notes:  Florida Crystals are the only organic sugar grown in the U.S., and they are non-GMO and carbon-free.  My single loaf pan measures 8″x4″ when I flip it over and measure the bottom of it.

You can see the cake has pulled away from the loaf pan a little.
I did test the cake to make sure it was done.

Harvest Pumpkin Cake

Here is the link for this recipe.  I bought this cookbook called Vegan Baking Classics by Kelly Rudnicki, and this recipe is in there, along with her recipe for the Dairy Free Cream Cheese Frosting.  It seems that Kelly Rudnicki is not an ethical vegan, but cooks vegan due to having a child with allergies.  I’m not sure about this, but that’s what I’m getting from her web site and her cookbook bio.  Either way, this cake is absolutely scrumptious.  I would not hesitate to make it for an Autumnal birthday, or even for Thanksgiving.  Last year, I learned how to bake sugar pie pumpkins, and that’s what I used for this cake.  I just weighed out 15 ounces of pumpkin puree that I had run through the Vitamix.  FYI, I found organic “sugar pie pumpkins” at Whole Foods recently, the first time I’ve ever found them organic.  This is a very moist cake with a wonderful mild flavor.  The tofu is the egg replacer and gives it some extra protein.  Pumpkin is full of fiber, beta carotene and iron.  It also has protein, Vitamin C, Magnesium and Potassium.  I did cut the margarine in half; I just couldn’t wrap my brain around using all that fat.  So, I did have to chill my frosting in order to do a crumb layer of icing.  Use as little icing as possible for your crumb layer because this recipe makes a somewhat scant amount, and you will need every bit of it for the finish coat.  I actually made a little extra frosting, and used it.
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HARVEST PUMPKIN CAKE

Yield: One 9-inch layer cake
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup dairy-free shortening, such as Spectrum brand
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup silken tofu
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)  (I used my own pumpkin puree from sugar pie pumpkins)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soy or rice milk
1 recipe Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine shortening, sugars, silken tofu, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract on low speed until creamy. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda with a wire whisk.
Preheat oven to 350ºF, and spray two 9-inch round cake pans with dairy-free baking spray. Add flour mixture alternatively with soy milk to the shortening mixture. Beat well.  Pour into prepared pans, and bake 25 to 35 minutes. Cool completely, and frost with Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting.  Note:  I let the cakes cool completely in the pans, and then ran a butter knife around the edges and then inverted them onto racks until they fell.
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Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: 2 cups
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine  (I used 1/4 Cup)
3/4 cup dairy-free cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
21/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the margarine, cream cheese, salt, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar, and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium, and beat 4 to 6 minutes, until light and fluffy. Chill before using.

I baked the cakes for only 25 minutes in my electric, non-convection oven, until they pulled away from the sides of my pale-colored cake pans.  i did use use a tester to make sure it came out clean and that the cakes were done inside.

Apricot Cheesecake by La Dolce Vegan

This recipe is a winner.  It tastes almost like a dairy cheesecake but does not support the veal industry or killing cows, so what could be better?  And it’s cholesterol free and doesn’t stop your heart!  Online I found that a lot of people love the Apricot Cheesecake from the La Dolce Vegan cookbook by Sarah Kramer.  Sarah even claims in this interview, that it’s one of her favorite recipes, and I just happen to own that cookbook.  It’s an easy recipe but I did find a few things I was not prepared for, including the fact that the recipe does not call for pressing or even draining the tofu.  I recommend both because tofu holds a lot of water right out of the container.  My cheesecake came out perfectly, but then i realized two days later that the residual (hidden) tofu water had dripped onto the bottom of my oven. And I realized this when I went to make garlic bread and my oven started smoking something wicked.  One self-clean cycle later, I then realized that if the spring form pan had not dripped, the bottom of the cheesecake would have been soggy.  All this despite the fact that I placed the tofu blocks on a dinner plate and kept tipping the plate to drain them into the sink.  I own a “good” Kaiser brand springform pan that supposedly does not leak, but it does sometimes.  So next time, I’m pressing the tofu some.  And when I say pressing the tofu, I don’t bother with paper towels, I simply put the tofu on a clean plate, invert another clean plate on top of the tofu and place a 14 ounce can of beans on top of the top plate, and then just drain the whole shebang into the sink every now and then, until half an hour has gone by.  I will also place the spring form pan on a baking sheet next time too, just to be safe.  The cheesecake turned out to be approximately 1.5 inches high.  I added an extra teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and doubled the lemon zest and it was still not too lemony, and it enhanced the taste.  I used two 12.3 ounce packages of Mori-Nu brand Silken Soft tofu from the grocery store.  And two 8 ounce tubs of Tofutti Vegan Cream Cheese (the non-hydrogenated one).  For the glaze, I used an 8 ounce jar of organic apricot fruit spread.  My 7-cup food processor was just big enough to hold the entire batter.  There are two other cheesecake recipes in this book, but this one appears to be the winner.    Of course, you could really dress this up in many ways–with fresh berries, edible flowers, you name it.  I’ve also served it with my own super-easy strawberry rhubarb compote.

Light lemon Bundt Cake from The Joy of Vegan Baking

According to the cookbook, The Joy of Vegan Baking, this recipe was slightly adapted by Colleen Patrick Goudreau from The Millenium Cookbook.  This cake is good, if not sensational.  It is indeed a light cake, possibly perfect for a high tea or ladies’ luncheon.  It was easy to throw together except that I had to run to the store to buy Lemon Extract.  Once again, a reasonably-priced bag of organic lemons from Whole foods came in handy.  This is a slightly petite cake, and yields approximately 8 slices, depending upon your Bundt pan.  I have a very cheap Bundt pan, which is actually not a real Bundt pan, but something I picked up at Wal-Mart or the grocery store years ago.  It’s like paper thin aluminum or something, although it does have an enameled interior.  I sprayed the inside of the pan very well with cooking spray that has flour in it (Giant brand).  Here are my observations about this recipe.  The lemony flavor of this cake is not strong, so you really do need that Lemon Extract after all.  The Lemon Sauce (a separate-but-simple recipe from the same cookbook) is recommended here or the cake would be too plain.  Although, in a pinch, you could just dust this cake with some powdered sugar.  Lars and I agree that what would be really good is that common white icing glaze that tops many a lemon pound cake; something that would drip prettily down, but also stick to the cake.  This would consist of about two cups of confectioners sugar with a few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, and maybe some zest too.  You see, the Lemon Sauce quickly slides right off the cake, like water off a duck’s back.   It is elegant to have the slice of cake sit in a lemony pool of syrup, but this only wets the very bottom of the slice, and the icing glaze would really complete it.  I just had a thought that if you are glazing the cake, you could poke holes in the warm cake, drizzle on the Lemon Sauce and then cover up the holes with the glaze.  Ok, I’ll quit now.  My last comment is that in my electric, non-convection oven, I did have to bake the cake for the entire 45 minutes.  See more photos below.  Lars loves fruity desserts and really did like this.  He said, “It tastes just like any normal cake.”  And I replied, “Look Ma, no eggs.”  Happy Mother’s Day!

Here is the Lemon Syrup, slid right off the cake.  You can see where a thin bit of glaze on top would have just enhanced
it.

You can see how the cake is starting
to pull away from the pan here.  Once cooled completely, the cake fell right out of the pan!

Carrot Cake from The Joy of Vegan Baking cookbook

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, The author of The Joy of Vegan Baking, has not put the recipe for this carrot cake online, so this post is really for those who already own the cookbook, or who want to buy it or get it from the library.  I’ll just say that this carrot cake is killer good;  rich, dense and moist, with a bewitching spiciness (see side shot of cake below).  Yes, if Mma Potokwane served this to Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, she could get a brand new tractor for the orphan farm out of him.  Part of the magic of this cake is the way the flax seed meal gets whipped into healthy egg replacer.  I found whipping for 3 minutes with my Caffe Latte Frother worked amazingly well, and it saves cleaning up another kitchen appliance.  But you can also just use a single beater on your hand-held mixer and get the same results.  My only changes were minimal in that I reduced the raisins by 1/3 cup, and cut the two stronger spices (clove and nutmeg) in half.  It was still very spicy and luscious, even after those changes.  Also, this recipe was a bit over-leavened, so I reduced the baking soda by 1/2 teaspoon and the cake rose just fine, especially since there was also plenty of baking powder in the recipe.  I did make a vegan cream cheese icing using Tofutti Cream Cheese but did not follow Colleen’s recipe on that.  I baked this in my new Wilton 9 inch square cake pan, which I really like, especially since it comes with a nice cover.  The cute carrot on top is simply cut out of a piece of carrot peel, and adorned with a tiny sprig of fresh dill out of the garden.  Supposedly, you can also make this as a loaf or as cupcakes.  This recipe is a keeper, and an added bonus is that your house will smell like an exotic spice market!  Thank you, Colleen!

Vegan Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Another recipe from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick Goudreau.  One thing I want to point out about this recipe is that the photo in the cookbook is very confusing.  First of all, the recipe calls for a 9×13 inch cake pan, but the illustration photo shows a round, approximately 9-inch pan (no larger).  Secondly, it also shows a lot of dark syrup being poured from a large pitcher over the completed cake.  What’s that about?  There’s nothing about syrup-pouring in the recipe, at all.  That being said, this recipe is easy, good and worth making.  Because of the confusing photo, I went into it a bit apprehensive and so am posting this here so you can make it with more confidence, and see how I laid out the cake.  i did not have maraschino cherries, but I did have a small bag of organic frozen Bing cherries in the freezer (which I keep handy for juicing), and so I used those, and I didn’t even bother to thaw them.  Lars has been known to infamously take the center out of an uncut upside-down cake, so he could have that unbroken ring of pineapple in the middle.   The way I’ve laid it out here, there are 8 full rings of pineapple, and I used up the entire 20 oz. can of pineapple without wasting any.  My other tip for this cake is that you can simply use the pineapple juice from the can instead of also buying additional pineapple juice.  In fact, there will even be some can juice left over.  I used Dole brand pineapple but there are a couple of other brands that use 100% juice in the can, with no icky “cling” syrup.  Also, pineapple is high on the list of the Clean Fifteen, so it’s more okay to buy it conventional (non-organic).   And my last tip would be to let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes.  One blogger reported that if you let it cool for only 10 minutes (as per the recipe), the syrup drips everywhere when you flip it.  After 20 minutes, you may have to loosen the edges with a butter knife, but the cake will fall to the platter and it will be more intact and quite handsome, as you can see.  As an aside, I found this pretty antique platter (probably circa 1800’s) for only $11 at an out-of-the-way antique shop near Denton, Maryland.  It’s so much nicer to buy old glass and china, but you must check it carefully for hairline cracks and any chips.  My mother always did this by running her fingertips continuously over every single edge, and sometimes carrying it to a window where the light was very good.  Also, we’re recycling when we’re not going to the store and buying new dishes.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  p.s.  Remember to have some Soyatoo Rice Whip on hand for this, it’s the perfect whipped cream for sweet desserts.