vegan chocolate-chocolate cake


Okay, so normally cake is reserved for some sort of special occasion. Weddings, birthdays, you know. I'm sure there are others. Me, I don't really need a reason to have cake, especially when it's one this good. And yes, this was technically made for a birthday (a very special one, actually, cute Colin's 31st), but it's bound to make a repeat appearance, candles not included.

For this recipe, you'll need:

For the cake (two 6-inch rounds)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar, finely ground in a blender
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond milk (or any non-dairy milk)
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Filling: 1/3 cup apricot jam (a favorite)

For the ganache

8 ounces dark chocolate (70% is a good gauge), finely chopped
1 1/4 cups almond milk (or any non-dairy milk)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Small pinch fine sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Okay, a quick word. Not only is this cake terribly easy (seriously, no super hard to find ingredients, no weird steps) and vegan. But it's really, really good. I know, I shouldn't really be the one to have to convince you of the virtue of a vegan cake since this blog is full of vegan recipes, but let's get real about something: not all vegan cakes are created equal. I have had some that just don't cut it, pun intended. They're too dense or the icing is rock solid even after sitting out for an hour or more. Nope

This one, however, is exactly as all cakes should be. It's light, subtly sweet, not too overly-chocolatey (yes, that is a thing). You'll just have to try it for yourself.

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of two 6-inch cake pans (you could use an olive oil spray if you feel like being cohesive, but I went coconut since that's what I had on hand). Line the bottoms with parchment paper and set aside.

Into a medium bowl, sift together your flours, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together your olive oil, maple syrup, milk, vanilla and vinegar until evenly combined. Slowly add your wet ingredients to your dry in several stages, whisking to combine with each addition. Pour into your prepared pans and transfer to the oven to bake for thirty minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If the toothpick test leaves you feeling unsure, check the sides: are they pulling away from the pan? Then your cake is done.)

Transfer to wire racks to cool (in the pans) for five minutes. Next, (carefully!) flip them out of the pans and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, wrap well with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill. The main reason for this is it makes spreading the jam filling and ganache much easier when the cake is cold. So really, you could do the baking a day in advance for best results or allow to chill for at least two hours.

When you're ready to dress up your cake with ganache, melt your chocolate in 15-second increments in a microwave safe bowl. You don't want to zap it all at once since this will result in burnt chocolate and a smell that will take forever to leave your tiny kitchen. Whisk after each trip to the microwave to smooth out and check for lumps. Once your chocolate is shiny and lump-free, gently stir in your milk (slightly warmed will help), sugar, olive oil and salt. Once combined, transfer to the refrigerator to firm up slightly (about 1-2 hours).

Finally, use your apricot jam to sandwich together your cakes. Spread liberally with your ganache or, if it's still pretty fluid, just pour over the top--just make sure you have a tray underneath your cake stand to catch the mess. 

And there you have it! The perfect vegan birthday cake (or anytime cake) that will change your mind about vegan desserts.

Stocking up on cake recipes for all the future birthdays?