So, as I've said, I was on a quest to make the perfect birthday cake to celebrate my Little's 1st birthday. And, as I've said, the trial and error period was...well...extreme. I mean I threw out more cakes than I ate. So many of my attempts were too dense, too dry, weird textured, weird tasting. Ugh. I even considered using a cake mix but all the vegan, gluten-free mixes I could find had soy or pea protein, or some other form of legume. So yeah, I had to pull up my socks and just keep trying.
I gave up on a white cake early. I do believe that it's possible to make a successful, fluffy white cake with gf flour. I do believe that its possible to make a delicious, egg-free, white cake. For some reason making both is a HUGE challenge for me. And I was quickly running out of time. So, I gave myself a break and opted for a delicious chocolate cake. I just had to find the perfect recipe.
Here's a hint. After throwing away several six inch mini cakes, and after forcing my husband to eat several more mini-cakes, I discovered the greatest thing ever: the mug cake.
You mix up the perfect amount of cake, pop it into the microwave for about a minute, and voila. Voila! Cake for one! I save myself from having to make a whole cake and I get a great idea of how the flour/sugar/vegan egg/etc modifications work with the recipe. And you have an excuse for eating cake, every day. Or whatever. The point is, I made a few versions of vegan, gluten-free mug cakes and the one I landed on was delicious. Dark chocolatey (I used Dutch Cocoa) and not overly sweet (I use a combo of date and cane sugar for most of my baking), the cake was rich and not overly dense. The perfect base for my favourite style of cake.
Do you know Christina Tosi? As of Milk Bar? If not, google her asap. I'm obsessed! She's my cake guru. I saw a Netflix special where she said that cutting into a cake is like peering into a doll's house and that she would never ice the outside of a cake because the magic is in the layers. So, using her method: cake, cream, crunch, repeat, I started on the perfect cake.
So my cake layer was a dark chocolate cake with coconut cream. I used a recipe from my new baking Bible:
I baked my cake in a 24" sheet pan instead of using individual round pans. This way, the cakes are pretty uniform and all baked evenly. Using a 9" cake ring, I cut out my three cake layers (for the 9" I made a double batch of the cake. For a six, you get the perfect amount of cake in one go).
Using acetate, I lined my ring mould so that it would be tall enough to build three layers of three different fillings (these cakes are pretty tall). Starting with the cake layer (the bottom is pieced together from the cake scraps, easy peasy!), I soaked the cake with a syrup of coconut milk, coconut oil, and water. This is especially helpful with that bottom layer, because it kind of glues the pieces together so they hold their shape. I followed this with a whipped coconut cream (literally just the cream, whipped with some icing sugar). On top of this, was the ever important "crunch" layer. Mine was Made Good brand Chocolate Chip Granola, Made Good Vanilla Puffed Rice Cereal, and No Whey Chocolate Vegan White Chocolate bar cut into chunks, all mixed with about a tablespoon of sunflower butter and a tablespoon of icing sugar. I just paddle everything together with my stand mixer and then sprinkle it generously on the cake. Trust me, you can use almost ANYTHING in the crunch layer, as long as it's..well...crunchy. And delicious. You could use caramel corn, if you were making a caramel cake. I've even used pretzels for a chocolate pretzel cake. The world is your cake-making oyster!
On top of the crunch layer, I added a second cream layer--my Strawberry Vegan Buttercream. I subbed out half of my icing sugar with freeze-dried strawberries which I pulsed in the food processor until it was a fine powder (I also did this with blueberries for a Blueberry Buttercream and it was amazing!). This left me with a sweet, tart, pink layer that really made the cake sing. I repeated the layers twice more, ending with a thin layer of the coconut cream. Voila.
I like to freeze my cakes overnight in the ring mould so that they stand perfectly when you take the acetate off. For this cake, I topped it off with a 9" fondant disc made from Dandies Vegan Marshmallows, a little water, and icing sugar. It turned out pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.
And I do say so :)