What Do You Need To Know About Vegan Cake?
What is a vegan cake?
So, we’ve all heard of vegans. That friend of a friend who doesn’t consume anything derived from animals and yes, we know what you’re thinking ‘What, not even cheese?!’
What is veganism? According to the Vegan Society, it’s a way of living without the exploitation and cruelty to animals. Why vegan? Well, studies show that it is a healthier lifestyle and that also it puts your points up on the moral scale for both environmental and animal welfare.
Did you know that dairy has been linked to high cholesterol, acne outbreaks and that lactose intolerance is one of the most common self-reported food allergens worldwide? Is it any wonder that vegan cakes are becoming increasingly popular?
But you might be wondering ‘How could I possibly go vegan and also have my cake and eat it?’
MY BAKER has created this how to guide to help you navigate just that! So you won't be sticking an avocado in a baking tray any time soon.
What is there to know about vegan cake?
What are they made of?
Well, it’s your traditional cake with a slight difference - there are no animal products used to bake it!
Just to be clear, that means no egg, no gelatine and no dairy, unfortunately this can also mean no chocolate. So if you have an egg allergy or perhaps suffer from that lactose intolerance mentioned earlier then these are the cakes for you.
Milk is usually swapped out for dairy-free alternatives such as soy milk, oat milk (yum), rice milk, coconut milk and almond milk. Each of these milk alternatives has their own flavour though, so perhaps consider this before you make your choice. We asked our Le Corden Bleu trained baker Gigi and she says that she much prefers using coconut milk and oat milk, as they are much creamier and also help to avoid allergies for both soya and nut allergies sufferers.
You could use oat milk for oat cakes for instance, or almond cake for that delightful chocolate and hazelnut cake you’re planning to help you navigate through that next ‘vegan phase’ teenage birthday.
Now anyone who has baked before knows how important eggs are to the mix. Used as a binding ingredient, they keep the whole thing from falling apart and if we are talking texture then yep, you’ve got it, it’s the eggs.
Hand ground flax seeds mixed with water make for a suitable alternative (Ratio: 1 tbsp of flax meal with 3 tbsp of hot water), or you can mash up a banana if you’re planning on making some soon to be eaten cookies. Baking soda and vinegar can make a nice bubbly mix to give your bake some much needed lift. If all that sounds a little overwhelming then you could try Ener-G Replacer, a starch based substitute that is also gluten free, wheat free and egg free - a sworn life-saver by veggies the world over.
But what about chocolate cake we hear you ask? Well, unlike the olden days you can now head into any local supermarket, head to the free from aisle and you’ll have vegan chocolate coming out of your ears (not literally). From chocolate sponge mix to chocolate drops you’ll find everything you need and more to get that animal-free bake on. If you can’t find any alternatives you can always choose either a dark chocolate or cocoa alternative.
Are they easy to make?
Vegan cake recipes can be harder to create if you don’t necessarily specialise in them. The baking times can vary, and you may have to go out of your way to source new ingredients when normally you would just rifle through your kitchen to find everything you need.
But with a little preparation, and a decent recipe you’ll find that things will run smoothly.
After listening to our baker's top tips and styles, we thought that you might like to give it a go! We asked our bakers for a quick and easy recipe that will be sure to get you in the mood for more!
Banana cookies recipe
- 1 cup (100g) of oats
- 1 large overripe banana - mashed up
- ½ (50g) cup of raisins
- Set your oven to 180c and line a baking tray with a silicone baking mat.
- Add mashed banana and oats into a large bowl and mix with a fork to make a thick liquidy texture. Add in your raisins and any extra bits here!
- Form 8 round balls and place them onto the tray around 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball so it looks like a cookie. Their shape won’t spread out much so keep that in mind as you do so.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, or until they have gone a lovely light brown and set throughout. The base should be brown also and should come off of the tray quite easily.
Please note - They may stay quite soft though as they absorb a lot of moisture after they have cooled down so don’t be disheartened if they are a bit softer than you had imagined.
Go vegan or veganise?
Can you swap out ingredients to make it animal-friendly or do you need to start from scratch? This depends entirely on the baker that you ask. Our talented baker Sandra says that depending on the recipe type, it’s easier to change the odd ingredient instead of creating a completely new recipe from scratch. Many of our bakers much prefer to develop there own recipes, so as you can see this is an ongoing, fiercely debated subject in the world of vegan baking.
Classic bakes with a free from twist.
MY BAKER has a whole range of free from desserts on offer that you can take a look at.
Or if you’d like a quick run down, then let’s start from the top.
Honestly, does anything taste better than chocolate? Probably not, which is why we receive so many requests for chocolate cakes and luckily for plant-fueled people, MY BAKER can accommodate.
Chocolate cake is a re-occuring favourite for our bakers. Take our baker Paulina for instance, who specialises in a vegan chocolate cake, created after many nights spent perfecting her now closely guarded secret vegan cake recipe.
A vanilla flavoured alternative is much simpler and there isn’t as much to extract from the process so the flavour remains. However, it isn’t the go-to for some bakers! Luckily though, our wonderful baker Deb has mastered her own vanilla cake, and thinks that actually, it tastes better than an ordinary recipe!
Now these can be a tricky recipe to make egg and dairy free and are entirely recipe dependent. Jagruti uses a completely different recipe when she bakes a delicious chunk of red velvet as she finds that swapping out the usual ingredients for animal free alternatives simply does not work.
A recent trend to hit the cake displays is the raw cake. Our raw cake specialist Veronika discovered a passion for these wonderful creations that use all natural, raw ingredients. They are also completely vegan. Most raw cakes use an almond or cashew base, with a mix of fruity ingredients on top!
And yes, they also come in chocolate.
Can vegan cakes be free from other allergens?
I can't have gluten - could I have a cheeky slice?
Whilst vegan cakes aren’t gluten free per se, they can of course be made to meet almost any dietary requirements. So if you wanted a gluten free cake that didn't need to be plant based, you could take a look at MY BAKER's GF In Vogue Cake It’s worth noting though that it will be more delicate as the gluten strengthens the structure of the bake.
My husband has a nut allergy
If you, a guest or a loved one suffer from a nut allergy then it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s always good practice to check whether your baker uses a completely free from kitchen to avoid cross contamination- an allergic reaction can spoil even the fanciest of parties so do yourself a favour and double check! Check out our Nut Free Rainbow Cake - a tall cake filled with multicoloured layers that will make even the big kid's eyes pop!
MY BAKER has a range of different free from cakes with a host of bakers waiting in the wings with whisks in hand. Some of our bakers specialise in gluten free, nut free and halal cakes so order your cakes early to book them in!
What goes on top?
So congratulations, you’ve found a free from baker for your party, but how will it be decorated? Well the safest bet is some nice fresh seasonal fruit, mixed in with some sugar flowers to make your cake stylish and elegant. If you fancy a bit of crunch then you can always add a variety of nuts to the top of your cake, such as hazelnut or almond flakes.
If you are catering for a kids party then you might consider a free from chocolate ganache with buttercream swirls and dallops. You could even go for the novelty cake and have a fondant covered cake, complete with your little one's favourite characters and colours to boot! The main ingredients of sugar fondant tend to be animal free so finding vegan fondant should be a fairly easy, you just need to keep an eye out for brands that might contain gelatine.
One ingredient that has caused a spot of bother in the vegan society is the delicious oreo. Whilst they may not have any animal ingredients inside per se, they are made in an environment that handles animal products. If your reason for the vegan lifestyle is an ethical one, then you might want to consider that there is possible cross-contamination in the oreo producing method!
One thing to note with children’s birthday parties though is that due to allergens awareness, venues and nurseries will only allow nut free food items to be brought in, complete with a marked allergens sticker (which all of our cakes come with).
Do they taste good - what’s the difference?
With all that sugary goodness your guests might not even know the difference, depending on the recipe. Our specialist baker Isabel says that whilst they are still every bit as delicious as your normal cake, they can taste different. She says that the eggs add an element of flavour which will obviously be missed, and if you were to use aquafaba (the water from a can of chickpeas) then you do need to add sugar and flavourings to sweeten it up.
How long do they last then?
The rule of thumb is that once out of the oven you’ve got 3-5 good days of shelf life, that’s if it’s made with vegan butter. If you used oil though however, you’ve got an extra two days to enjoy your cake.
Are vegan cakes healthier?
They are like usual cakes, if the recipe calls for more sugar then they will of course be very sugary. If it’s a moment on the lips lifetime on the hips that you are thinking about before you take that first succulent bite then you might just want to consider that at the end of the day it is still a cake!
But don’t let this put you off, cakes are meant to be enjoyed after all!
Where can I get one?
Do you have any vegan cake tips and hints? Or maybe you’d like to give it a go yourself?
So there we have it. A beginners guide to finding out just what is a vegan cake. Suddenly feeling a bit peckish?
Let us know your thoughts below!