I love dessert! The Greek cuisine has a lot of sweet cakes and desserts and once I started following a vegan diet more religiously, I was afraid I’d never see a cake again and be able to eat it. Luckily I was wrong, very wrong! So far I’ve made halva, mpougatsa me krema, baklava, walnut cake, brownies and apple pies all vegan and soya free. While I’ve been doing vegan desserts for a while now, most of the time I have been using spelt flour. Now for the first time in a long time, I decided to try and make a cake which was both going to be vegan and gluten free! Not easy! Not easy at all!
A few years back I made a gluten free cheese cake! That worked out fine as I could use eggs and cream cheese and still achieve the natural cheese cake flavour.
So to my help this time, as I am not a gluten free expert, I used Ms Cupcake’s The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town, a dessert and cake book that just came out last week!
It is a great guide to learn how to make vegan icing. I normally would stay clear from dairy free spreads as I use extra virgin olive oil for most of my vegan baking, yes, evoo, nothing else! But for icing, I am not sure evoo will do.
Another thing I did learn and was inspired by Ms Cupcake, was to use foods to do natural colouring in my cake, instead of using food colourings which if they’re non-vegan may contain animal products in them and if they’re vegan they’re artificial with various E Numbers.
So I used unrefined icing sugar, which gave my icing a slightly golden colour and that wasn’t my intention, but I know for next time! It tastes just as good, it’s just that crisp white snow effect that was missing, instead it’s more like a white golden sand, you can hardly tell from the picture though. What I loved was getting the pinkish coloured sponge from strawberries! I blended them in my mini Kenwood and alongside olive oil, these two where the only liquid ingredients I added in my mix to get the pink. The flavour of strawberry is divine, just natural hints of fresh hand picked strawberries that no essence will ever achieve. I’ve been using bananas, apples and nuts to bind my ingredients together in vegan baking, but never ever did it occur to me to bring in strawberries which not only added a nice colour but also taste. Now I wonder what would happen next time, if I added a bit of blended beetroot to the mix, would it intensify the red colour?
I made a cream with cashews that I blended with a bit of water, maple syrup and vanilla sugar and then I mixed one part with blueberry conserve to get the blue colour and cocoa powder for the other part to get a chocolate flavoured cream filling!
My one and only problem with this cake, yes it is a feast of colours, but this was a trial session to see what works and what doesn’t, but I found the sponge is not the same as when using flour or spelt flour, the gluten free self raising flour turned out to give a more dense base for my sponge and not the same flavour I expect from a cake’s base layers.
I’ll do the cake again, but this time, vegan only, I don’t think I am up for the gluten free version, if I can’t use eggs and dairy!