I always feel a little nervous making cakes — there are so many opportunities for disaster. Even if it rises and looks fine, you still don't know what's inside. It's not like making soup, which you can see and taste as you go along.
This often leads me to make the same cake over and over, but when I agreed to make my little grandson's first birthday cake, I had an urge to try something new — something that looked more like a traditional birthday cake, while still being gluten-free. I turned to Chloe's Vegan Desserts (reviewed here) for inspiration, and found a recipe for olive oil lemon cake. It was supposed to be a bundt cake but I used an eight inch round pan. I also used half olive oil and have avocado oil because I was worried my olive oil was too strong-tasting. And, I used orange zest instead of lemon because my oranges were organic and my lemons were not.
Oh yes, and I used flax eggs instead of xanthan gum, and reduced the liquid in the recipe by a few tablespoons to compensate. The cake rose nicely in the pan, but took a lot longer to bake than the directions said, possibly because of the pan shape. Or maybe I still had too much liquid. I used a parchment round in the pan bottom and greased the pan well. After the cake was cool, it released from the pan without a hitch. So far so good.
I frosted the cake with the bittersweet chocolate frosting I wrote about here, because it's delicious and wonderful. (I used cocoa powder, not carob.) And I decorated it with Surf Sweets peach rings and watermelon rings. I admit that as a cake decorator I will never achieve greatness (hahaha), but the cake looked good to the one-year-old's almost six-year-old sister, so, mission accomplished.
|Papa lights the candles (one for good luck) while the kiddies look on.|
And was the cake good, you might be wondering? I think that if the recipe had been followed exactly, and the cake made with wheat flour instead of Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour Mix, and made as a bundt cake, it would have been perfect. Or if I'd just followed the directions and used xanthan gum, the texture might have been more like the photo in Chloe's book.
That said, I loved the cake. The texture* reminded me of the firmer, eggy texture of a pound cake. I found both the taste and texture extremely pleasing, and I'd love to try the recipe again in a bundt pan, just to compare. I would describe the texture as fine-grained, though it looks a lot denser in the photo than it actually was (see note, below). I really liked the combination of lemon juice and orange zest. So far, Chloe's Vegan Desserts has been a great source of delicious and successful recipes.
As for the surf sweets, which are vegan, non-GMO and contain natural and mostly organic ingredients — they taste a little too bubble-gummy to me. I passed the decoration on my slice to an eager recipient, who was more than happy to acquire an extra candy.
How do you decorate cakes? Do your cakes look beautiful and professional ... or more like mine?
* note: The cake slice was refrigerated, and photographed the next day during 'daylight,' or what passes for daylight in the PNW. The texture of the cake solidified somewhat in the refrigerator and looked a bit more dense then it did the day before. It still tasted great, but it looked a little firmer than it had been.