Thursday, March 8, 2012

Vanilla Chocolate Rose Cake Tutorial

I am so proud of this little cake. I'd never made a layer cake before (well there was one awful attempt a year ago on Valentine's). Anyway, this recipe was my inspiration, which led me to I Am Baker blog, which I am now obsessed with. I Am Baker isn't a vegan blog, but it's full of creative and beautiful baking ideas and a lot of these awesome ideas can be veganized. I thought I'd share my favorite chocolate cake and buttercream recipes and do a tutorial on how to build a layer cake. Besides being my first layer cake, this is also my first tutorial... Here goes!

Chocolate Cake

This cake recipe is my favorite. I've cut it down and adapted it from this recipe at FatFree Vegan- my favorite vegan blog and the first one I read! The cake is really moist and yummy and a bit denser than a regular cake, but with chocolate, that just makes it better! It's really easy, since there's no sifting or mixing with an electric mixer and everything can go in one bowl. This recipe makes 1 6-inch cake or 11 cupcakes or 32 mini ones-- with all of the changes I've made to the original, I need to tweak it so it's just a bit more to get that 12th cupcake and those thirds-of-teaspoons worked out. I hope you enjoy it anyway!

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder (I use Hershey's, 2 T regular and 1 T dark)
  • 2/3 tsp baking powder (I use 2 rounded 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/3 tsp salt (again, a rounded 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1.5 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsps white or apple cider vinegar mixed with 2/3 cup water

1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Put the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and use a fork or a whisk to mix

2. Then add the rest of the ingredients and stir to incorporate, but don't over mix-- a few lumps are ok.

3. Then use some shortening or margarine and your fingers to coat your pan and then dust it with cocoa powder-- this makes sure that the cake doesn't stick after it's cooked.

4. Pour the batter into your prepared pan.

5. Bake for roughly 37 minutes (that's what mine took). Set the timer for about 25 minutes and then check in intervals until a toothpick comes out clean.

6. When I took my cake out of the oven , while it was still warm, I used a clean towel to press down the middle where it had puffed up. This will make your cake even for stacking, but it will also make it denser, so if you don't want that, don't press it down and even off the top when it's cooled. Next time I think I'll not press down and I'll just slice off the top once it's cooled. And I'll also cool it for an hour or so, remove from the pan, and then finish cooling in the fridge, rather than put the whole pan in the fridge-- I think that might have affected the cake's texture as it was different this time than usual.

7. That's it for the cake. Now on to frosting!

Per one cupcake out of 11 cals: 94kcal | fat: 2.05g | carbs: 19.06g | prot: 1.36g

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup margarine (Earth Balance recommended, since it's stiffer than some other vegan margarines available)
  • 3-4 tbsp water
  1. Measure out your shortening and margarine into a bowl (or loaf pan in my case).
  2. Add a couple of cups of powdered sugar and start beating with an electric mixer.
  3. As your frosting starts to come together, add a little water, then a bit more powdered sugar, until a really thick, smooth consistency is reached. It'll look like this:

For the filling I smooshed up 7 golden oreos and mixed them with about 1/4 cup of the frosting. The next morning when I went to assemble the cake I had to add about a tablespoon of water to the mixture before filling the cake because it had hardened.


Alright, now back away from your cake and frosting. Cover everything (again, I would remove the cake from the pan next time--  I dusted it with cocoa powder when I removed it to keep it from sticking to anything). Put it all in the fridge and step back. Preferably overnight or at least a couple of hours. You might think you'll die of anticipation, but I'm pretty sure you won't. I almost broke down and got everything back out at 11pm but thankfully, I was worried I'd be so tired it would be ugly, so I resisted. This is what went wrong on my first horrible attempt at a layer cake-- not the tired part, the not waiting part. Not everything was cooled enough and it was a huge, sticky, slidey, sugary mess. I should see if I can find a picture of it somewhere. It was really bad (but still tasty).

Anyway, so whenever your cake and frosting have cooled, you're ready to start assembling. Take all of your parts out of the fridge, like so:

1. Cut your cake in half. I just got out a big knife and stood the cake up on it's edge and eyeballed it. I'm sure there are better ways to do this.

2. Mix a little water with your filling if it's dry and then put in on your bottom layer, not going quite all the way to the edges, like this 

 3. Put your top layer on top of the filling.
 4. Frost the whole cake, trying to cover any cake underneath, to  give you a clean smooth surface to decorate.

5. Then snip off the end of your pastry bag, slip your large star tip in, and fill it up with frosting.

6. Starting on the sides, and starting in the middle of a rose, swirl around until you fill the side of the cake. Make sense? No? Well then, follow the amazing tutorial over at I Am Baker. I really love that blog!

7. Finish up your roses in the middle of the top and step back to admire your creation. Slice into your masterpiece and enjoy!

I made this into 10 slices instead of 8 since it's so rich and sugary. So...
1/10 of cake including frosting and filling: cals: 367kcal | fat: 14.37g | carbs: 60.54g | prot: 1.73g

It's intense, but yum. I'm totally having a slice for breakfast as I type this. Probably not best idea ever, but probably also not the worst. Have a beautiful day!

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    Veggie Soup and Sunshine Burgers

    This is what I've been having for lunch for the past 3 days-- so yummy!

    So I noticed (or rather, Sam noticed) that in the background of the picture in this post, there's a sneaky little visitor. That's Stanley the Seal. He belongs to this little guy.

    This is Yosemite (and me in my pj's behind him). And I just realized that he looks giant in this picture because of the angle of the camera and his relation to me-- he weighs about 8 pounds, he's pretty small. Anyway, that's one of our our amazing pups-- I'll introduce the others another time! Now it's on to recipes... Well, sort of recipes. The pita sandwich is one of these amazing veggie burgers from The Vegan Chickpea in a pita with some spicy mustard-- that was weird, I just typed "hummus" after "spicy", I wonder if that means I secretly want some spicy hummus, I'll have to look into that-- anyway, veggie burger in pita with mustard and iceberg lettuce. I think iceberg gets a bad rap from foodies sometimes. Sure, it doesn't have the good looks, nutrition, or varying tastes of your darker greens, but it's delicious in it's own right. It's light and crunchy and really cheap, so that's good too. I used the sunflower seeds I had left over from making sunflower butter-- which by the way, was gone after a week and a half, yum! The only things I changed in making the sunshine burgers is that I doubled that batch and made 4 patties, meaning they were bigger, and I left out the garlic. You''ll probably want to make a double batch of these, they're seriously good.

    And now for a recipe from me, sort of. I say sort of because it's a "throw everything you have in a pot" kind of soup, but it's the method I use over and over.

    The ingredients are highly variable, but this is what I put in this last time:

    1. Add the olive oil (or canola, or other neutral oil) to a large soup pot and then start chopping.
    2. Rinse everything and chop roughly, adding the chopped veggies to the pot as you go.
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • 3 large carrot
    • 4 stalks large celery
    • 1.5 medium onion
    • 2 large zucchini
    • 4 large summer squash
    • 1 medium sweet potato
    • 1 poblano pepper, de-seeded for less spice or with seeds left in
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    3.      Then add the crushed tomatoes and their juice-- I add fresh chopped tomatoes instead when they're on sale. Then rinse your split peas and add them to the pot as well. Then fill your (very full) pot the rest of the way up with water, stopping when the water level reaches about 2 inches from the top. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, simmering for 30 minutes.
    • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
    • 1.25 cups uncooked split peas
    4. After 30 minutes, add your Old Bay Seasoning (my favorite way to season veggie soup), collard greens, and mushrooms and simmer for another 30 minutes.
    • 2 tablespoons Less Sodium Old Bay Seasoning
    • 4 cups, or 1 bunch collard greens, de-stemmed and chopped roughly
    • 9 large button mushrooms
    This recipe makes a whole bunch of soup. I usually make it when the veggies go on sale during the season and freeze some of it to enjoy later. It’s also really low calorie, meaning it’s good for people eating lower-calorie, or meaning that you can eat it with bread and margarine, whichever way you want to look at it. I hope you guys enjoy!

    Per 1 full cup: cals: 59kcal | fat: 0.42g | carbs: 12.47g | prot: 3.98g