So I set this blog up after season 1 of GCBS aired thinking I was going to become a food blogger. But frankly it’s a bit exhausting. I find writing difficult and I have a lot of other things I need to be doing! Also I have scaled back the baking somewhat. I enjoy it still but it is not really something that fits with my schedule very much. But now we are all settling into quarantine over the COVID-19 pandemic (can you believe March is not even over!?) I find I have more time on my hands and a family in need of comfort food.
This cake is a strong family favorite. It’s basically the six-minute chocolate cake from Moosewood Restaurant “Cooks at Home” though it is also in their “Book of Desserts”. It’s a fantastic, works-every-time recipe. The page on our copy of Cooks at Home is easy to find because it’s the one which is absolutely covered in cocoa powder. It’s super easy to make and vegan. This cake gets its lift entirely from the baking soda – vinegar reaction. You mix everything except the vinegar right in the cake pan and then swirl in the vinegar just before you put it in the oven .
I make a couple of changes though. First I use half as much sugar. I find in general that many cake recipes are too sweet. In particular I don’t like my chocolate to sugary!
Also the recipe calls for just unbleached flour but recently I happened to use pastry flour and it makes a big difference! Finally I use balsamic vinegar rather than the apple cider suggested. I think it brings another subtle layer to the flavor. I used a vanilla flavored balsamic most recently which someone happened to regift me at Christmas and has been cluttering up my cupboard ever since!
I have also here veganized the glaze. The original is a basic ganache made with milk or cream. I have done it that way (I’m not actually vegan myself) but this time I had not dairy in the house so I used cashew milk. I upped the fat content a bit though by adding some coconut oil. That does bring a coconut flavor to the ganache but I leaned into it and topped the whole thing with a crunchy topping of toasted walnuts and coconut flakes.
By the way this recipe makes rather too much ganache for the cake but I find it difficult to make it in smaller batches. The excess keeps well in the fridge and if nothing else can be eaten with a spoon later!
One more thing – the original recipe says you can use either coffee or water. But seriously you need to use the coffee – I have done it with water and it is NOT the same.
1-1/2 cups Pastry Flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil or other vegetable oil
1 cup of brewed coffee (this is important!)
2 tsp vanilla
2.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar *
200g 70% Dark Chocolate
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used cashew milk)
2 tablespoons Coconut oil
Handfull Chopped Walnuts
Handfull Dessicated coconut
1. Preheat your oven to 375F or 190C.
2. Sift all the dry ingredients into an 8 inch square oven proof dish. Give them a little swirl around to mix and make a well in the center. I use a glass dish and it doesn’t need greasing but metal might.
3. Mix all the wet ingredients (except the vinegar!) then add them to the dry. Make sure it’s all well mixed with no dry spots of flour.
4. Finally pour all the vinegar in and give it a mix to make it well distributed. You should see a marbling effect starting – that’ the baking soda and vinegar reacting so you have to put the cake in now before the reaction runs out.
5. I find it needs about 35 minutes in my oven but check at 25 to see if a knife in the centre comes out clean.
6. In the last 10 minutes spread the coconut and walnuts on a baking sheet and put them int the oven with the cake. Keep an eye on them, while they toast to your preferred level. I like the coconut just starting to brown. Take them out and transfer them quickly to a bowl to cool.
7. While the cake is cooling make the ganache. Roughly chop your chocolate and set it aside.
8. Mix the oil and nut milk in a microwave proof jug and microwave for about 50 seconds to a minute to get it warm. It should be slightly too hot to touch the dish but not boiling.
9. Drop in about 3/4 of the chocolate and let it sit for a moment. Then stir vigorously until it is silky smooth looking. Keep adding the rest of the chocolate a little at a time until it is all melted.
10. Once the cake is cooled and removed from the pan, pour the ganache over the top (if it has cooled to much you might want to warm it back up briefly int eh microwave). Top with a generous sprinkle of the walnut and coconut mix.