Tag Archives: baking tips

I love cake! It was always my favorite dessert as a kid- next to ice cream (for obvious reasons?). I never quite could relate to friends who thought cake was lame. I always had homemade cakes for my birthday. My favorite part was the actual cake part, not the frosting. Having a good frosting is especially important, and something I always remember is my friends having really gross cakes and frosting (probably because they would get cheap sheet cakes with Crisco frosting. Yuck.). 

I also remember admiring The Cake Bible. Baking seemed fun and exciting. But as I got older, it seemed that the American baked goods scene was boring. It is dominated with desserts that are made to taste like other things (like french toast covered in crushed sugary cereals, PB&J flavored everything, birthday cake flavored cookies, etc) or cakes that look like other objects. Nothing compared to the creativity with edible ingredients found in The Cake Bible (hello meringue swans on a blueberry jam pond)

Then Jon and I started to watch The Great British Bake Off. I fell back in love. I loved learning about all the different cakes, pastries, and desserts. Even the savory dishes were fun, mostly when they didn’t involve meat. It got me wondering, what about America? Do we have distinctive desserts?

I heard about American Cake from the podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class. I knew I needed that book. It combined so many things I loved, history and cakes. I also knew these cakes wouldn’t be vegan, so I would have to alter the recipes.

I originally was going to make this into a project for Vegan MOFO, but decided to post as I go along in the book. I won’t be making every single cake in the book. Some I am honestly not sure how to make vegan, or rather not sure how similar it would end up being to the original. For example there is an early colonial cheesecake that uses ricotta cheese. Do I bother trying to recreate that? Also there are three or four different pound cakes. Should I even bother? And don’t even get me started with angel food cake.

So follow me in my journey. I will either post about my adventures trying to make the cakes, and if possible, I will share my recipe. I naturally started with the first cake recipe, and one of my favorite types of cake- Gingerbread Cake. Hopefully, I will post it soon.

Recipes:

Applesauce Cake
Blackstrap Spiced Cake
Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake
Cowboy Cake
The Wacky Cake


asksnanswers

Alexa is working toward a vegetarian diet, and is loaded with questions. Jennifer’s got answers. We talk about anything as long as it is vegan. Are tattoos vegan? How do I politely not eat Thanksgiving dinner? How do I order without pissing off the waitress? We know you are dying to ask!

asksalexaDo you think Vegan desserts are harder to pull off? I have had some vegan desserts where the texture is a bit mealy and gross, and some that you wouldn’t even be able to notice the difference between that and a “traditional” treat.

Wow. It sounds like your friends are terrible bakers. I’ll give you a quick example of an everyday vegan baked good. Oreos. Bet you didn’t know those were vegan? It’s been that way for years. So why are there so many bad vegan baked goods? Although vegan alternatives can work well replacing butter, eggs, and milk, there may need to be minor changed to original recipes. That means converting Grandma’s chocolate chip recipe might not be as simple as 1 cup dairy milk to 1 cup almond milk. There is a lot of trial and error. It helps to understand the role of each ingredient in a recipe. 

Eggs: These guys are a binding agent in cakes and cookies. There are a huge array of replacements out there including, tofu, fruit, veggies, powders, flax seed, and more. Egg replacement is a little more tricky in frostings and meringues. Fork and Beans has a great in depth page on egg replacements.

Butter: It adds flavor and fats. Traditional baking is already making a shift away from butter as oils make a more moist and tender cake. But vegan margarines and shortenings are available and can be subbed pretty easily. Again, Fork and Beans has a great page about non-dairy fats in baking.

Milk: Usually milk is used to add more protein to baked good but most essentially moisture. Since protein is important sometimes soy milk triumphs over other substitutes. But sometimes, it doesn’t make a difference and any other milk replacement works fine such as rice, almond, oat, or hemp milk. 

So what are the major pitfalls of baking and picking a vegan recipe? Well, for starters, implement good baking practices. Weight flours, level measuring cups, completely preheat the oven, etc. If you are making bad cake with butter and eggs, you’ll make bad vegan cake.

Continue reading