Philacatessen | I Can’t Believe It’s Vegan Cake

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vegan cake
(Photo by Keri White)

As an omnivore, I am perfectly willing to eat vegan food, provided that it tastes good. However, I have often found vegan desserts lacking and, for kosher diners, pareve desserts can be a challenge, as many cakes, pies and cookies contain dairy.

This cake, which I discovered quite by accident, will solve any and all dessert issues surrounding post-meat meals and vegan restrictions.

I had made a birthday cake for a friend and delivered it to her doorstep during the quarantine, but had a goodly sum of icing left. I was looking for a quick, 8-inch cake to throw together to avoid wasting the icing, and this one suggested itself.

I committed the rookie error of not looking at the recipe thoroughly and, after I mixed up the dry ingredients, I saw the large amount of vinegar called for, as well as no eggs, and recoiled. I considered tweaking the recipe to a more traditional cake, but I try to follow “first time” recipes to the letter, especially cakes, which require precision, before changing them to meet personal preferences.

So I persevered, and boy was I glad I did.

The cake has a perfect texture and a hint of almond flavor. If you are not a fan of almond extract, skip it. The generous tablespoon of vanilla delivers plenty of flavor.

It is lovely plain, especially with a coffee or tea breakfast, but we served it with chocolate frosting (which, full disclosure, was not vegan.) A simple white or lemon glaze, chocolate drizzle, coconut cream, jam, fresh fruit, ice cream or sorbet would be lovely accompaniments.

Vanilla Vegan Cake

I used cake flour, because that is what I had on hand. It delivered a perfect texture; if using all-purpose flour, sift it first.

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 4½ tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square pan.

Mix the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Mix the water, oil, sugar, vinegar, vanilla and almond extracts in a small bowl.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir to blend.

Pour it into the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. Unlike egg-based cakes, this one will be flat across the top, but as long as the center springs back to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean, it is done.

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