I’ve been very busy recently, moving house, working full time, and trying to study for exams all at the same time. So what can one do except hire an underling to do all the work for them. The following is a blog written by my cousin Stuart (who is a genius and a bozo in equal measure) as part of his IB Diploma.
This blog is his attempt to win our ongoing civil and gentlemanly, massively violent argument about the merits of his newfound vegetarianism. My argument is stronger, of course, because it has more protein.
As Stuart’s punishment for being much cleverer and funnier than I am, I have asserted my right as the older cousin and included embarrassing baby photos.
“I’m a Vegan.”
“Well, okay then…. uh… welcome to Earth. You must be hungry after your long voyage to our planet. Let me buy you a burger.”
These are the perceptive words, in mono-personic conversation, of Bob the relaxed Vegan (who has a YouTube video slowly approaching 100 views). Apparently, the word vegan is not one to be proud of, as first glance may mistake it for a demonym. However, I think an alien from the planet Vegus would have preferred the vegan chocolate cake we baked today to a hamburger – perhaps without the icing.
Today, in a kitchen on the planet Earth, we made a simple vegan chocolate cake.
Vegan Chocolate Cake
325g sifted plain flour
45g dark cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarb soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
330g caster sugar
125 ml vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Prepare a round 22cm cake tin – grease sides (with oil, not butter) before lining with baking paper.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, bicarb soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the oil, water, and vanilla essence and mix together thoroughly using a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
This cake is very temperamental in its cooking time. Bake for 30 minutes then cover with a piece of foil. Bake for another 30 minutes. After this hour, check using a skewer – if, after poking the skewer into the cake, the skewer comes out with any batter or crumbs attached leave the cake in the oven for another 5 minutes. Keep repeating this until the cake is ready.
When ready, take the cake out of the oven and allow to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Cool the cake upside down until completely cold.
While the cake was cooking, we prepared an icing, the recipe for which was found here. This required margarine, an ingredient which was not readily available within the kitchen of Vic. We headed off to the IGA to buy this, but in the hurry that ensued we unfortunately bought margarine that contained a small amount of dairy. Dairy!
Yes, dairy. In fact, the integrity of our cake’s veganism was brought into question by two other components. Firstly, the cake and the icing both contained white sugar, for which neither of us can attest as to whether or not was processed using animal bones. Secondly, the fondant’s (for the IB logo on top which is mentioned later) scant ingredients list left any claim to veganism highly ambiguous. To the untrained eye, like ours, it can be surprising how many seemingly animal-free inhabitants of the pantry are not in fact vegan.
Anyway, back to the cooking. The icing was fairly simple to make, as it simply involved putting margarine in a food processor, followed by soymilk and vanilla extract, followed by icing sugar. The icing at this point looked a bit too runny, so we added all of the cocoa to get some extra thickness.
Next onto what appears to be the most important part of this blog. The decoration! Unfortunately, being a simple cake we decorated it fairly simply too – not like some of the more ostentatious of Vic’s designs. Although not extravagant, today’s cake decoration was quite relevant. The vegan chocolate cake is the first baking and “Sugar, Spice and All Things Nice” blog contribution I am doing to pocket a few CAS hours. Therefore, we simply covered the top of the cake with a blue-and-white fondant IB logo. To do this, a similar-sized logo was printed, and the white fondant was rolled out flat, and cut out where the blue-dyed fondant would be put to create the glorious symbol of inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young thinkers.
Rolling out the fondant was quite challenging, as it seemed no amount of flour could stop it from being sticky. So I kept rolling and rolling the fondant in the flour until Vic approved, and my hands were as blue as Tony Abbott’s tie collection.
Soon enough, the cake came out of the oven and was cut in half and left to cool. The small dome on top was taken off, and these crumbs were enjoyed, giving us a first glimpse of what the cake would taste like: soft, moist and surprisingly rich.
So, once the cake had cooled and the icing ‘solidified’ in the fridge, the cake was iced. Vic, in her typical outlandish style, decided the icing should go not only around the outside of the cake but also as a layer in the middle. Thus it became a layered cake.
Once the cake was completely iced, all that was left to do was place the fondant decoration on top. Pick it up and put it on top. Easy. Done!
And so the Earthlings of the house converged and it was time to try the cake. Unfortunately, the whole cake didn’t quite match the crumbs in taste. Why? The cake was good, but the icing wasn’t. Too sweet, too grainy and too runny. As Victoria, in typical outlandish hyperbole proclaimed: “The icing is a disaster zone.” Despite the extra cocoa added, it was still too runny. Perhaps next time less sugar, less soy milk or, as I suggested to an outraged reception, tofu.
Perhaps it was just the tiny bit of dairy product in the margarine that ruined the icing. Vic wouldn’t think so though, which is why we will now be staging an epic VEGAN VS. NON-VEGAN BAKING BLOG COMPETITION, a.k.a “vegan baking vs. eggs-and-butter baking smack down”. How will the enthusiastic, egalitarian environmentalism of vegan baking fare against the tried-and-true tradition of eggs-and-butter baking?
Stay tuned to “Sugar Spice and All Things Nice”