I love to bake. Few things please me more as a cook than turning out a perfect, towering layer cake, full of eggs, sugar, and flour, gleaming with rich butter cream frosting. It makes me feel so accomplished. But, these days, so many of my guests can’t eat dairy or have gluten issues or have gone completely vegan on me. So what’s a cook to do? Especially when there’s a birthday to be celebrated?
Well, this cook started experimenting with every dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free cake recipe out there. The following recipe is a result of that experimentation. I owe the genesis of the recipe to cookbook author Nigella Lawson, whose Chocolate Olive Oil cake is to die-for. A few changes here-and-there made completely dairy, egg, and gluten free.
It is now my husband’s favorite cake – and he’s not even vegan.
Recipe for Chocolate Birthday Cake
6 tablespoons good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup boiling water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (not vanilla flavored extract)
2/3 cup mild olive oil, plus a bit more for greasing the pan
1½ cups almond meal/almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill is the brand I use)
½ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)
1 cup refined white sugar
Egg Replacer to equal 3 large eggs (I use Ener-G Egg Replacer as it is the only one I could find that was organic and both dairy and gluten-free)
Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease a 9″ springform pan (10″ is okay, too, if that’s the only size you have) with olive oil and line it with a circle of parchment paper. Oil the paper. Set aside while you prepare the cake.
Sift the cocoa powder into a small bowl and add the boiling water, whisking until it’s a smooth, lump-free consistency. Add vanilla and stir until blended. Set aside to cool.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the Ener-G Egg replacement powder with water to reconstitute it. Generally 1½ teaspoons of egg replacer + 2 tablespoons of water = 1 egg, but check the box for exact directions.
Combine the olive oil, sugar, and reconstituted egg replacement in a bowl and beat with a mixer set on medium speed for about three minutes. You should have a very pale yellow mixture the consistency of lightly thickened cream.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the chocolate mixture. Still beating, add the almond meal and salt. The batter will be more liquid than most cake batters you are used to. Pour it into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes. It’s done when the edge of cake is set and the center still looks just a tiny bit wiggly, kind of like a cheesecake.
Let it cool in the pan for 10 – 15 minutes on a wire rack. To remove from the pan, run a butter knife or cake spatula around the outside rim of the cake to loosen it and remove the ring. Gently peel away the parchment paper and place the cake on a plate.
You can serve it immediately while still warm. If you do, the consistency will be a bit like a molten lava cake, only not so runny. I like to let it cool completely, though, before cutting into it, as the crumb is more firm and the slices more consistent.
To dress it up, use a dusting of confectioner’s sugar or drizzle some dark chocolate sauce or rich red raspberry sauce – or both – artistically over the each slice before serving. For those of your guests who aren’t totally vegan and do eat dairy, a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream is nice, too.
The cake pairs well with a cup of rich, dark espresso or a glass of port.
Serves eight. And it tastes even better when you serve on Shindigz Dessert Plates!
Candace Schuler comes from a long line of foodies.Her grandmother taught her about planting, preserving, and cooking whole foods. Her father was a professional chef who taught her all about the importance of presentation and how to cook for big crowds. Her brothers have spent years in the restaurant business, and she and her sister constantly trade recipes via email for everything from fermented fruit kimchee to the perfect cheesecake.
Candace is also a professional writer, which, she says, makes writing about party-worthy recipes for Shindigz the perfect gig. Contact her at www.CandaceSchuler.com