Saturday, August 2, 2008

Vegan coconut cake, and the saga of it's making, and I got a flickr

This post is about a seemingly successful vegan coconut cake, and the point that I got a flickr. At the moment, the only pictures on my flickr are of the aforementioned cake.

Yesterday I really wanted to make a cake, and my roommate justified making it when I said "there's no reason to make a cake, with the phrase "there is no need to have a reason when cake is involved." I said "okay" and away I went. This cake took a while, but it shouldn't have, I was just silly about a few things.

I haven't technically tasted the cake yet, but the few nibbles of scraps that I tasted were quite good. We'll see how it is tomorrow. It didn't raise very much, so I think if I do it again, I will either 1 1/2 the recipe, or use a smaller pan. It worked really well for thin layer to torte- no need to split them crossways.

I made cupcakes the other day that turned out okay, but nothing to blog about. I had frosting left over, which was one of the reasons for my wanting to make a cake. This frosting would lead to some now amusing mishaps though. It was comprised of granulated sugar disolved into heated coconut milk, beat with an equal amount of coconut oil, then beat into a good measure of confectioner's sugar. It wasn't quite as fluffy as buttercream, but it was quite tasty.

After I made the cake, I let it cool on the counter, then wrapped it in plastic wrap and left it there while I went to work, planning to put it together when I was on my break between jobs. When I got back from work, I beat the frosting a little to soften it to a workable consistency (coconut oil gets rather stiff in the fridge). I then divided the cake into quarters, took one quarter, placed it onto a little rectangle of cardboard covered in foil, and spread a quarter of the frosting on the top. I didn't consider the point that the room-temperature cake might melt the delicate frosting.

By the time I had the third layer on, the second layer was sliding out, and we won't talk about what happened when I tried to persevere and put the fourth layer on (as though that would help somehow). I tried so hard to salvage it, to no avail. After ten minutes I ended up disassembling the stack and scraping off as much of the melt-y frosting as I could salvage (It's a good thing that the cake has hearty structure). This actually ended up working well, because I then put the layers re-covered in the fridge to chill through, and the coating of melted frosting sealed them, so hopefully their few hours in the fridge while I was back at work didn't dry them out too terribly.

Before I went back to work, however, I tried to salvage the frosting. Needing to make a little more, I added a cup or so of confectioner's sugar and a bit of coconut oil. The discrepancy in temperatures, however, caused the frosting to break and become a oily, lumpy mess. I tried heating it through, and that made it worse. Feeling defeated but refusing to scrap it, I stuck it in the fridge and went back to work.

Work went really long and I finally got home just after midnight. As expected, the frosting was hard as a rock, as coconut oil freezes at a very high temperature. I thought about melting it, but didn't think it would help anything, since it just made it separate more before. So I took my hand mixer with the beaters on it and just buzzed the top of the mass. Surprisingly, as it shaved off ribbons, it mixed it all together, and I had perfect, smooth, fluffy buttercream-type frosting after about ten or fifteen minutes! I then took out the four sad looking, glazed cake pieces out of the fridge and much more successfully torted them.

Then I took the left over cream and smoothed the sides with it.

Then came the vegan ganache experiment. I decided to carry through the coconut theme and use coconut milk. When you open a can of coconut milk, if you don't shake it, the milk will be separated into a thick cream-consistency liquid and, pretty much, water. I refrained from shaking the can and used the separated thick coconut cream. I think that this is easier in the non-light versions, but all I had was light. I combined this (about 2/3 cup) with a drizzle (about 1 Tbsp) of agave nectar in a saucepan and brought it to a rapid simmer. I then poured it over 1 1/3 cup organic chocolate chips (Sunspire brand- they are so delicious! I could just eat a bag- no need to make anything with them). I let it stand for a few minutes, then stirred it until it was smooth. It seemed a little thicker than ganache that I'd previously made, but was a nice consistency. At this point you are supposed to add a little liqueur or flavor extract, but I forgot.

I let the ganache sit for a few more minutes to cool to 90-ish degrees, as I've heard suggested, so that it wouldn't melt the cream frosting and be thick enough to give a good coating. I should have waited a little longer though, because the stayed nicely on the top, but most of it slid off the sides and it ended up looking like Mecca, oddly enough.

I persevered again though, and moved the wire rack and spent several minutes scooping up ganache and spreading and re-spreading it on the sides. Eventually I got a nice covering. Not perfect- but nice and mostly even. I drizzled some over the top too, to hide the imperfections. There is a little bit of speckling from the frosting being pulled through. I think that I was pretty successful though- especially in my frazzled state at one in the morning.

After it chilled in the fridge, the ganache stiffened up quite nicely, and it looks like real ganache. :) I'm pretty happy with it. For all of it's grief though, it better taste darn good!

Now that you have the back story- here's the


Vegan Coconut Torte (or just cake, if you just make the cake):

Preheat oven to 325, grease and flour a 9x13 for a thin cake, or another size pan of your choice.

In a food processor combine:

1/4 cup ground flax meal
1/2 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
2/3 cup light spelt flour (**for GF readers, spelt is not gluten-free! I digest it better than wheat, so if you are just wheat sensitive I highly suggest it, but it *is* glutinous!**)
1/4 cup almond flour
4 tsp baking powder
(if using GF flours instead of the spelt, don't forget the xanthan gum)

Process for a few minutes until coconut is reduced to flour. If you have coconut flour, sift flours together and skip the processor.

In a separate bowl mix together:

1 1/2 cup organic unrefined sugar
1 tsp salt

Blend and add to the sugar:
1 1/4 cups coconut milk, warmed
1/3 cup melted and cooled coconut oil
prepared egg replacer for three eggs

Slowly add flour blend by sifting it over the wet ingredients while whisking. After all of the flour is added, if the batter is still thin, you may need to add a little more flour. I ended up adding three extra Tablespoons of spelt.

Dump into prepared cake pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until firm to the touch and a toothpick or knife inserted into the center tests clean.

Remove from oven and let rest for five minutes.

Loosen edges of cake if necessary and invert onto lightly oiled rack. Once cooled, wrap tightly and CHILL thoroughly. Prepare whatever filling you would like to separate the layers with while the cake is chilling, and chill the filling if necessary. Cut the layers if necessary and assemble as desired. Chill the cake while you prepare the ganache, place cake on wire rack over a pan and pour the ganache in the center of the cake, allowing it to drip over the sides and coat them. With a round cake this is usually not to hard, a square cake takes a little more convincing on the ganache’s part. Chill for several hours until ganache is set and there is no temperature discrepancy among the components.

I will post pictures of the sliced end result tomorrow, and give a review on the taste and flavor combinations.


Deb Schiff said...

Wow! Can't wait to see the slices and hear about what folks thought.

weekendhack said...

oh that cake so was oh so delicious.


yeah. that's how good it was.

Kristina said...

Despite the fact that I am by no means the biggest fan of coconut in the world (I managed to finally eat an Almond Joy about a year ago or so without finding it repulsive), I am very tempted to make that cake.

Instead, I will resign myself to making zucchini bread to satisfy my craving for baked goods... And so I can help use up some of the gigantic zucchini my mother's garden has yielded....

Beth Ann said...

Hey Krissy- I highly suggest it- the cream and ganache wasn't all the coconutty, and the coconut flour in the cake could easily be replaced with a nut four or meal of your choosing- or just a different flour- oat might lend a nice texture.

Zucchini bread sounds awesome! I should have had my parents bring some when they were up to visit yesterday.