My great grandparents thought it best to raise their six children as vegetarian atheists. They also thought a winter coat and a bowler hat was normal attire for a family trip to the beach. Today, half of my mum’s family are still vegetarian, including me and my sister, but we now only wear bowler hats for formal occasions.
|The handsome young lad in shorts is my grandfather|
In the early 1990s I decided to take vegetarianism to its logical conclusion and become vegan. This diet does take some commitment as you cut out meat, fish, dairy, eggs and everything that contains them, plus you need to have a long hard think about honey, leather, wool and silk. I stuck at it for three years before I went back over to the dark side of lacto-ovo-vegetarianism.
|Look at my trusty canvas Doc Martens|
Being vegan was one of the things that started me baking – it was often easier to bake at home than to seek out something in the shops that wasn’t a flapjack. My friend Adam, a brilliant cook, created this vegan chocolate cake recipe for me. I’m not usually a big fan of chocolate cake but this one is delicious – light and very moist with a crisp top. Here it is:
Preheat the oven to 170oC/325oF/Gas Mark 3 and line two 8” tins.
Stick all the ingredients in a mixer:
- 170g plain flour
- 25g cocoa powder
- 145g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- large pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons of golden syrup
- 170ml vegetable cooking oil
- 200ml soya or rice milk
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
The mixture is runny like a chocolate sauce. Pour it into the two tins and bake for about 30 mins until the cake is springy to the touch. Leave the cake to cool in the tins before turning out as it’s delicate – see how the top has cracked here.
|On the BBC's Great British Bake Off they claim you can cover mistakes with a dusting of icing sugar. I sprinkle it liberally all over my life. It does not work and sometimes simply highlights the issue.|
You can also make a dairy-free frosting to sandwich the two halves by beating together:
- 125g dairy free margarine such as Pure
- 250g icing sugar
- 50g melted good quality dark chocolate (good quality dark chocolate tends not to contain milk but check the ingredients)
Or even nicer, a chocolate ganache:
- 90g coconut milk
- 180g dark chocolate
Bring the coconut milk to near boiling point, remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Leave the chocolate to melt for a couple of minutes, then mix it into a smooth glossy ganache. Allow to cool a bit then spread it on the cake.
If you crumb the cake and add a LITTLE bit of the frosting, you can roll it into balls and make vegan cake pops. It’s tricky as the cake pop balls are far more oily than usual, but they make a nice, truffle-like cake pop. I dip all my cake pops in Callebaut Belgian chocolate and their dark chocolate is suitable for vegans.
I decorated these ones as cats and made a little glittery chocolate mouse from the leftover dipping chocolate. See, who said vegans can't have fun? Now where's my bowler hat....