Remember the cake and frosting I described in my last post? That cake had palm sugar* and chocolate-sweet potato frosting, and was my idea of a perfect-tasting cake — not too sweet with a delicate, caramel-y flavor and fudgy frosting. I loved it, and I'm sharing the cake recipe today but with a slight change. The cake calls for evaporated cane juice instead of jaggery. It's easier to find and it makes a sweeter cake, but use whichever you feel most attracted to.
The frosting was made from Ricki's (Diet, Dessert and Dogs) recipe (sort of) and was creamy and delicious. Who would ever guess it was made from sweet potato?
The cake was served Feb. 14 at a small dinner with Miss E, her parents and my husband and me, to celebrate Miss E's third birthday.
Moist to the last drop.
Two days ago, Miss E had her "official" birthday party, and I made another cake for the occasion. I'm not a creative cake decorator — I admit that freely — but I wanted the cake embellishments to be a little more exciting than my usual sprinkle of coconut. I wasn't thinking of anything fancy, understand, but maybe a covering of chocolate disks similar to the button cakes my husband favored as a child.
By serendipity, I discovered a small, funky, quirky, totally spectacular cake decorating store in Maple Leaf, about 10 minutes drive from where we live, and we headed there to find the disks. Yikes! If you can't find what you want in this crazy, crowded shop, called Home Cake Decorating, it probably doesn't exist.
Even the very knowledgeable proprietor was decorated — with sparkles on her face. No kidding. I saw every cake pan I've ever coveted, plus endless decorating supplies. There was a customer at the checkout counter who had driven 70 miles to get there, and who was purchasing fondant and other supplies that I could only stare at in wonder. I wouldn't even know how to ask for half the stuff that's for sale. I did ask for dairy-free disks, and bought a bagful. I also bought a package of very cute flower candles.
Now back to the cake. Instead of palm sugar, the party cake and frosting were made with evaporated cane juice, to make them a little sweeter. To me, the cake tasted too sweet, but not to anyone else, so it's a matter of personal choice.
Early Sunday morning I baked a cake in a 7-inch by 2-inch straight-sided round cake pan, and the results made me think the pan was too small. The center caved in just a little and didn't look baked enough, even though a toothpick came out dry. (After tasting the cake the next day, I realized it was fine.) And part of the cake's side kind of detached a little when I removed the cake from the pan. I guess I could have glued it all back together with frosting, but I wanted the cake to be good, and you can't exactly cut a slice and try it. I decided to re-make the cake. Tsk.
7x2 Fat Daddio's on left, 6x2 Wilton (from Goodwill!) on right.
I sent my husband out to a kitchen store to find a bigger pan, but after an unsuccessful attempt to find the same pan I had in an 8-inch size (it was Sunday and the cool cake decorating store was closed), I used a 9-inch slightly flared pan that I already had. I split the single layer and put frosting between the two halves, but it still looked a little flat to me.
I really like the Fat Daddio's straight-sided anodized aluminum pans that come in a 3-inch height, and am going to get an 8-inch one for next time. Though the cake baked perfectly in the 9-inch standard cake pan, I like the added height and straight sides of the 3-inch-high pans.
- 1/3 cup unsweetened orange juice concentrate
- 2/3 cup almond milk (or non-dairy of choice)
- 1-2/3 cups white whole wheat flour (or unbleached if you must)
- 3/4 cup sugar (I use an evaporated cane juice) or grated palm sugar for a less-sweet cake
- 1 level teaspoon baking soda
- scant 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
- 5 tablespoons oil (I used sunflower)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons orange extract
- Place the orange juice in a one cup liquid measure and add almond milk to make one cup. Let it sit while you measure the dry ingredients.
- Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt, if using, into a bowl. (Be sure to stir up the flour and add it to the measuring cup then level the cup with a knife.) If you don't feel like sifting, you can add the dry ingredients to a bowl and whisk them together well.
- Stir the milk to dissolve the juice concentrate, then add the extracts.
- Make two wells in the dry mix and add the oil to one and the vinegar to the other.
- Pour the milk over all and mix well.
- Immediately pour into a greased 8x3-inch or 9x2-inch pan, and bake in a preheated 350˚F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until done. (A toothpick should come out clean or with a crumb or two attached.)
- Let the cake cool in the pan five minutes before carefully removing to finish cooling on a rack.
- When cool, split the cake into two layers, and frost between the layers and the top and sides of the cake, or eat as is. (I find the easiest way to split a cake is with a long, serrated bread knife. Place the layer on a plate. Start cutting a few inches into the cake, turning the plate as you go so you can cut along the center line and keep the halves equal. When you've cut all around the cake, use the cut line as your guide and cut all the way through the cake to make two equal layers.)
I used this recipe with many ingredient changes, but followed the directions. I used one cup of baked sweet potato, though you could probably use more if your potato is bigger, six tablespoons of evaporated cane juice (or grated palm sugar), 1/4 cup of cacao powder, 1/4 cup of almond butter, one tablespoon of coconut oil , two squares of semi-sweet non-dairy baking chocolate (56 grams), and two teaspoons of vanilla extract. The first three ingredients get emulsified in a food processor. The next three get melted in a small pan and added to the processor with the vanilla. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of milk to get the spreading consistency just right. (See Ricki's blog for the stellar original version and complete directions.) I whipped mine in a mixer but I think the food processor works fine, if you don't have a mixer. The frosting firms up beautifully on the cake.
In other words, I took Ricki's lovely, carefully constructed ACD-friendly, allergy-friendly recipe and turned it into ... something else. And it was GOOD! Though it may not be as healthy as the original, I still think it may be healthier than frosting made from mostly margarine and sugar, and it tastes great. You will surely notice that Ricki's frosting looks a lot better than mine, because she obviously has a knack for cake decorating.
*I'm re-posting my blurb about jaggery for anyone who may have missed it and is interested.
Jaggery is an unrefined form of sweetener that may be made from the boiled sap of sugarcane, sago palm, arenga pinnatasago palm, date palm, sugar date palm or coconut palm, with date palm being the most prized. It is usually found as a large solid cone, or as rectangular chunks, but can also be found in a granulated form. Jaggery is the most popular kind of sweetener in West Bengal, South India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Also known as known as gur in India, panela in South America, piloncillo in Mexico, hakuru in Sri Lanka, it comes in various shapes and sizes, varies in color from light to dark brown, and can range from dry to sticky. It has a rich, caramel-y flavor that is less sweet than white sugar. Coconut sugar is low on the glycemic index, and is one of the latest "healthy" sweeteners to hit the natural foods market. (The information available about the sources of jaggery is a little confusing, so I've done my best to summarize and present what I've uncovered.)
This is one of Miss E's party guests, making himself right at home.
Remember the hat I crocheted (and ripped, and crocheted, ripped and crocheted) for Miss E? Here she is wearing it on a short vacation she took with her parents to go snowshoeing and sledding in the mountains.
Testing for Urban Vegan
This is a very delicious version of shepherd's pie called Indian shepherd's pie.