Thursday, July 12, 2018

Dessert? Yes Please!

This post is dedicated to dessert. Besides breakfast or brunch, probably my favorite food topic. We're tasked with talking about a favorite dessert, a memorable dessert... vegan style. Lucky for me, life recently brought something my way on topic for here. The dessert topic also brought reminiscing my way, as you'll see at the end of this post.

I like cake. It's safe to say I like cake enough that I went to cake school and learned cakey things. I've trained a bit with a pastry chef, and I liked cake enough to have a side business going as a vegan baker. Chocolate is my favorite, but there's almost no combination I'm unwilling to try (although carrot cake is bottom of the food chain here). I'm off the cake game since Irma, and have pretty much hung up my baking apron but...

One of the people I work with in the natural foods cafe I'm at had a birthday coming up. I don't really keep up with birthdays much anymore, working there is busy besides I'm so unmotivated to do much of anything these days. But, this one came to my attention because he was talking about it at least a month in advance with glee and excitement. I mean, who does that anymore... who looks forward to their birthday once we've passed the milestones of 18 and 21? It's been a while since I noted my own, plus it was welcome to the AARP years, no thank you. But, he likes his birthday. I've been going through another rough patch. As you know I usually combat difficult times with exercise or working with food. Exercise is currently off the list for a few reasons, and my kitchen still needs help. Add that I've lost much of my equipment in Irma, I wasn't sure what I could do for his birthday, but I did decide cake was in order.

I rummaged through the cake ware I have left. I pulled 2 pans without measuring, I thought they were 8"but turned out they were 10", this I realized as I filled them with batter. This meant I had to make 2 more layers because they were too thin to make a pretty cake on their own; not a really big deal because all this part was 2 days before the birthday.

I had been planning an Elvis cake.... banana cake with peanut butter frosting. Todd (birthday boy) is a fiend for peanut butter. After almost every peanut butter smoothie I make at the cafe, I offer him the spoon before washing and setting it into the blue goo (disinfectant). He almost never declines. So... bananas & peanut butter it was (plus chocolate chips into the batter because you know... chocolate is life).

My cake was mostly inspired by the banana/peanut butter frosting cake I had one time at the Cafe in Key West. The cake was good, but the frosting made me swoon. I could've eaten a vat of that stuff. See?
My inspiration.
That peanut butter frosting... it could solve the worlds problems, I'm sure.
I have a recipe for peanut butter frosting I've used many times, it's never failed me, yay. The next morning, I made a 4x batch of the peanut butter frosting for the filling. I filled and crumb coated the cake, set it in the fridge and off to work I went. So far so good, no issues. Cake is beautiful (although twice the size as planned), first several batches of icing for the filling and crumb coating were perfect too. Plans were to finish the cake after I got home from work, usually between 6:30pm and 7:00pm.

When I got home, I made my next mistake. Instead of finishing the cake first, I decided to get down to kitty snuggles, snacks for dinner, and drinking one of my first ever home brew kombuchas (success! at least with that...) 

Once I finally got around to the cake, I decided to make a 6x batch of the peanut butter frosting. I had plans for a super thick coating with swirls and poofy things of soft, luscious PB icing. I did the math and checked it twice. As soon as the sugar hit the frosting, I knew something was wrong. Now, from here I could write several paragraphs of how it all went SO very wrong, but I'll edit down to this: the 6x batch could not be saved, it landed in the compost. I went to the market at 9:30pm (just before they closed) to fetch more peanut butter and sugar to make a 4x batch, it also didn't work however I salvaged enough to coat the giant cake. I took my hobbled cake to the finish line with my no fail chocolate frosting for decorations and still warm ganache to cover much of it. The edible silver and gold stars are vegan of course, from Sweetopolita's vegan line. None of the other sprinkles I had on hand color coordinated, and I couldn't write "Happy Birthday" on the cake because the lettering wouldn't set right on the ganache either (another reason you see those marks on the top ganache, sigh).

By the time I took the cake to the fridge (just before 2am) I popped it onto a scale, it weighed in at just under 10 pounds. Not a big deal if you're feeding a roomful of people, but this was made for a bachelor.

Tasted good, but was cut while still ice cold. It crumbled a bit.
I suppose any baker will see only their imperfections on the
finished project, but I'm relieved the birthday boy was happy.
Mission accomplished.
Todd has a good sense of humor.
He and the other kitchen staff make my days better.
This whole experience had me thinking back to a time long ago when the other happy vegan made me a cake. A birthday cake. With his version of Hello Kitty on it. This was a really big deal in my life because this was so long ago that although I was vegan, he was not. We weren't even living in Florida yet. But, he went out and got the stuff and made me a cake, a vegan one. I think at that time I had only one other vegan cake made for me on a birthday, and it was custom ordered by a now long defunct vegan restaurant that did indeed make one of the best chocolate cakes you could ever imagine. Birthdays were still kinda fun back then, but they didn't usually involve cake unless I made my own. He was good for that kind of thing, the specialness of events, and making things fun.

This was a long time ago.
No comment on the hair please...
So, yeah, remember I said "his version" of a Hello Kitty cake. I mean, it was close enough I knew what he was going for... and it was the first time anyone had made a home version of a vegan cake, I was so excited, must've been quite wonderful because some 20 years later I'm still remembering this cake. Yes, you can say for sure this was a favorite dessert of mine.

This prompt from VeganMoFo covers July and August. Not sure if I'll have the opportunity to offer a second round for the topic, maybe or maybe not. I've got a few things coming up very soon that will impact my available time, but if I have the opportunity to write for you, I will do so.

Cake on, vegan style, my friends.

xo til next time!


  1. You make our vegan world so........much better. I am in awe! Happy Birthday Todd❤️

  2. That cake looks incredible and sounds so very delicious!