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Cake recipes

Vegan vanilla pear cake with açaí frosting

Prep time 1 hour | Cook time 45 minutes
serves 8 people

Photography by Tracey Creed
Assisted by Amandine Paniagua
Recipe by Tracey Creed and Amandine Paniagua
Words by Amandine Paniagua


Recipe best prepared from autumn to winter

Published September 16 2019
Updated December 13 2019

Ingredients

Açaí frosting
1 12 cups raw cashews, soaked
23 cup coconut yoghurt
3 tbsp prefered sweetener, we used brown rice malt syrup
14 cup coconut oil, melted
14 tsp lemon zest
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla powder
14 tsp sea salt
2 tsp açaí powder
Vanilla Pear Cake
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
6 tbsp filtered water
2 pears, riped
14 cup olive oil
6 tbsp prefered sweetener, we used brown rice malt syrup
12 cup brown sugar
14 cup almond milk
12 tsp vanilla extract
2 14 cups wholemeal spelt flour
12 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 12 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp cinnamon
a pinch ground cloves, optional
1 large parsnip, peeled and grated

Method

Preheat your oven to 190℃ and line a tin with baking paper. We used a 19 cm, or 7 inches square baking tin.

First prepare your frosting. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until super creamy, scraping down the sides of your blender as required. Leave the frosting to firm up in the freezer for 1 hour or so, whisking once half-way through. Once the texture is semi-firm, whisk again until you achieve a thick spreadable consistency.

In the meantime, in a small bowl combine the ground flax seeds with the filtered water and stir. Let sit for 10 minutes minimum.

Cut the pears in half, removing seeds and stem, dice into cubes. Place in a blender and purée until smooth. Set aside ⅔ cup.

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, brown rice malt syrup, brown sugar, almond milk and vanilla extract. Mix to combine and set aside.

In another bowl add the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves. Stir until well combined.

Transfer the flax eggs, pear puree and wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Gently fold through until combined, for 3-5 minutes, making sure you don’t incorporate too much air into the batter.

Add in the grated parsnip and let your batter sit for approximately 10 minutes before baking.

Bake your cake for 45-50 minutes, or until a sharp knife, inserted into the centre of your cake, comes out clean. Before spreading the frosting, leave your cake to cool completely.

Frost your cake and enjoy.

Any remaining cake will keep for up to 3 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature; if there is any left!

An easy and unexpected beautiful vegan cake

This vegan vanilla pear cake is rich, moist and colourful. Pleasantly sweet, I love its subtle flavours, a well-balanced combination of vanilla, ginger and cinnamon, levelled up with pear puree and an unexpected nutty ingredient, parsnip. Similar in texture to a delicious carrot cake, we topped this vegan cake with a gorgeous cashew açaí frosting, light purple. You will not be disappointed.

Attached to a profusion of sweet memories, of baking cakes, are images involving mandatory ingredients. Several eggs, to be broken and mixed with the flour, messy. Hot milk to be combined with sugar, embalming the space. A rough cube of butter to melt and incorporate into the preparation, warm. Surely no plant-based ingredients here. Maybe that's why some crowd wonder if it is even possible to prepare a vegan cake? I personally never questioned the idea. You can make whatever meal, food with plant-based ingredients. Gladly, a vegan cake is a thing, one of the most mouth-watering, delectable sweet food existing - and the easiest to prepare too. This vegan vanilla pear cake was an attempt to make something other than banana cake. We opted for an understated pair of fruits and veggies, pears and parsnip, since there were in season - end of winter, at the time we made this cake. Vegetables in a cake, the nicest way to eat fibres alongside creating delicious flavours. Is there a way to be more plant-based than that?

What is a vegan cake?

A vegan cake is still a cake, yet composed of plant-based ingredients. That strictly excludes any products derived from an animal — we are mainly talking eggs, milk, fat, butter, cheese, whey, and honey. Vegan cake making is surprising for new plant-based bakers. It's a work using different ingredients, alternatives, such as vegetable oil, water, chia seeds, apple puree or baking soda. Some vegan cakes have long complicated ingredients list, expensive. Regardless, there are also good, easy, straightforward vegan cake recipes out there, no need to be a baking genius to create a successful and flavoursome sweet treat. And this vegan vanilla pear cake is one of these. Learn more about the ingredients and the baking of this vegan cake below.

Beforehand, the tin. Unlike other things in life, the size of your tin matters. And the reason is simple; most of the baking times are set up for specific batter volume. As an example, if your tin is smaller than the recommended one, the thickness of the cake changes, the heat lasts longer to reach the core of the batter. The cake won't be made on time while the top could burn. Easily. Another hint I've learned baking with Tracey is to mix your dry and liquid ingredients separately. Also, a light hand when combining so you don't add extra air, that toughens the batter. These ways, you avoid lumps aggregation and end up with a nicer cake texture. Double easy.

A vegan cake is a mix of a handful of simple ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, water or plant-based milk, oil, salt. It's a straightforward game, yet some sort of subtle chemistry operation. These ingredients have properties and interact with each other to transform into a perfect fluffy vegan cake. What makes this cake moist is the combination of fat and flour, while acidic food and baking soda introduce air.

This vegan vanilla pear cake recipe incorporates an egg substitute. Eggs are essential in baking, from binding to leavening, moisturising, appearance and flavouring. So in vegan baking, to replace up to 4 eggs, cooked apple purée or mashed bananas are commonly used — ¼ cup switches one egg. In this recipe, we preferred to substitute with flax seeds eggs, mainly because it is unflavoured, cheaper and quicker to make, also densifies the batter. 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds into 3 tablespoons of filtered water will make up for 1 egg replacement. Whisk together and let flax seeds fully absorb the water. For optimum flax eggs, you are looking for a thick mixture. Otherwise, if you are not confident in preparing vegan egg substitute, there are some good options like the Bob's Red Mill egg replacer. One pack would make up for 34 eggs.

Vegan buttercream açaí frosting

A word on the açaí frosting. With no chocolate ganache involved this time, we opted for a colourful sweet vegan buttercream. This frosting recipe yields 2 cups, plenty to coat your cake base. To reach a thicker buttercream consistency, feel free to leave the frosting firm up longer in the freezer, whisking approximately every 45 minutes, if you have time ahead. As per usual with cashews, soak them the day prior in cold water. If you forgot, 1 hour in hot water should do the trick. You also have the option to replace coconut yoghurt with ½ cup (120 ml) canned coconut milk or cream, almond yoghurt, or home-made creamy almond milk. Options are plenty. We mentioned in the recipe to use vanilla powder, though 1 tablespoon vanilla extract works as well.

Then the frosting colour. We tone the frosting using two natural food colourings, açaí and beetroot powder. We wanted to reach a light pink shade, so we mixed them both. However, for a pure purple tint, açaí alone will suffice. Same if you want a bright pink, beetroot powder on its own is perfect. Add the colour gradually in small amounts, until you achieve the desired colour. Our choice for these natural food colourings was dictated by their flavours, the beetroot sweetness balancing well the bitterness of açaí. Note, best to savour this frosting on the day; if you happen to have leftovers, it will crack after a day of keeping. Not a problem for taste, though.

You don't need to learn baking again to prepare vegan cakes, at most a slight reshaping of your baking culture, if one. Failure and missteps are part of the process, regardless of your baking skills. Keep in mind, as always in life, the more you own the baking art, you bake, you grow, the better and the easier it will become.

This vegan cake marks a milestone for me, for us. It was one of the first recipes we talked about when starting Lagom instagram account, after the vegan chocolate cake and a salad involving plant-based meat (more on that later). We’ve come a long way since then, building this space, carefully, and learning a lot in the process. Acquire the techniques, how to connect and dialogue with people, and more importantly, know about ourselves, discover we could go way over our boundaries. Breaking boundaries is something I love to do now. Gather skills beyond what I thought I could do, writing in my third language, fennel my energy to stay patient, a lot - and harvest happiness along the way. I am grateful to have quit a “normal” job and start working on Lagom, that crazy idea, yet so exciting, and brave. So this vegan vanilla pear cake finally up on our beloved website is more than a vegan cake, it is a victory, definitively a celebration cake.

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