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I baked a cake recently for the first time in years and it turned out surprisingly well.
My daughter turned five a few weeks ago and she decided that she wanted a birthday with all the trimmings – presents, a party, balloons and cake.
Who am I to refuse?
So we threw her a “crazy colours” birthday party with 150 rainbow-coloured balloons, five of her friends from school and a crazy colours vegan ice-cream cake.
But despite the fact that we had cake at her party, apparently we also needed a cake on her actual birthday.
And it would seem that I’m a big softie at heart (who knew?) because I decided to take on the challenge and bake her a vegan chocolate birthday cake.
Fortunately I had the guidance of my current favourite vegan cookbook, The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon, which includes a recipe for “Double Chocolate Fudge Cake”.
One of the many things I love about Angela’s style of cooking is that she uses whole foods as much as possible, and includes a good selection of raw recipes.
In other words, she’s a cook after my own heart.
And her chocolate cake recipe did not disappoint.
In fact, I’d have to say that it’s possibly the best vegan cake I’ve ever made, and I’ve made a few (back in my gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, allergy-ridden days of old).
And I learned a few really handy things along the way too.
1. Line just the bottom of the cake tin with paper
Now this might seem totally obvious to some, but for me it was a real eye-opener.
I’ve made cakes where I lined the entire tin with baking paper – bottom and sides – and cakes where I just greased the tin, but for some reason it had never occurred to me to line just the bottom of the tin.
Sure, I’ve done it with cheese cakes, and ice-cream cakes, but never with a baked cake.
And it worked really well, too. Go figure!
Isn’t it funny, the simple dots that we just don’t connect on our own sometimes?
It just makes the eventual discovery all the more enjoyable, I think.
2. Baking times can vary, a lot
I’ll be the first to admit that our oven is not fancy.
When we replaced it a few years back, we chose the most basic gas oven we could find, because we don’t really use our oven that much.
And also because it was a million times better than the oven that was here when we bought the house originally.
Our new oven is clean, white and shiny, and it’s possible to close the door properly. We’re in oven heaven, frankly.
But it just doesn’t cook things that evenly, which is normally fine, except when it comes to cakes.
Angela’s recipe called for 30-35 minutes at 180°C, and when we checked in on our baby at this point, there was still a serious wobble in the top of the cake batter.
So after another 5 minutes – no, 10 minutes – no, 15 minutes – no, 20 minutes – the cake was finally ready, according to our high-tech cake tester, and I couldn’t stand to leave it any longer.
Frankly it could probably have used another 5 minutes, but I was terrified that it would burn.
Because being the fabulously organised mother that I am, I was baking this on the evening of my daughter’s birthday, leaving myself absolutely no margin for error.
Thank heavens it turned out well, is all I can say.
3. Icing sugar makes an awesome instant decoration
I had planned on using my homemade natural rainbow sprinkles to decorate our newly created masterpiece, but apparently they’d been sitting on the shelf so long that the coconut oils had turned rancid.
Note to Self: Store rainbow sprinkles in the fridge next time.
And my daughter didn’t want the thick avocado chocolate frosting from the original recipe on her cake, so I quickly improvised.
I printed out a big number 5 onto a piece of paper, stuck it to an old cereal box, and cut it out to make a quick and dirty stencil.
I carefully laid this on top of the cake and dusted some raw icing sugar (that I’ve had lying around for years) over the top.
And I think it came up pretty well, even if I do say so myself.
Unfortunately, my daughter wasn’t nearly as impressed with the taste of the icing sugar, and refused to eat any part of the cake with white on it.
But we did get to sing happy birthday, blow out the candles, and eat slices of her vegan chocolate birthday cake along with slices of her leftover vegan coconut ice-cream birthday cake, so everyone was happy and honour was satisfied.
For another year at least.
And I might have just learned a thing or two as well.
Check out Angela’s amazing cookbook for yourself
If you want to try making this amazing chocolate vegan birthday cake recipe for yourself, grab yourself a copy of Angela’s amazing cookbook today.
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