Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Vegan Month of Food Day 9: Retro Recipe

Already at day number 9! Today we were tasked with bringing you a "retro recipe." Especially for you, I've created a "wacky cake" also known as a "war cake." My twist is that this recipe is an allergen free version.... no nuts, no soy, no gluten, no wheat, and of course no eggs, dairy or cruelty. "Wacky cakes" are what I call "accidentally vegan." When eggs and dairy were being rationed back in the depression, people simply used vinegar and baking soda to make great cakes. I sometimes call these "company cakes" because they're so easy to whip up for company in just minutes. After you watch the video, scroll past and you will find a little more commentary from me, as well as my original recipe which I am sharing with you today.

Make cake, not war.

Wacky cakes are so easy, why complicate them? Prepare your pan (remember if you're going soy free, check any vegetable oil spray you may be using to make sure it is indeed soy free and gluten free). I used organic shortening to grease the pan, dusted with cocoa, and then put a small piece of parchment in as a liner to insure it was no stick. I knew I would not be serving in the pan since this was for a video, so the parchment wasn't a problem. Don't use parchment if you're serving straight from the pan.

Also, as this is a gluten free cake, you should know a couple tips that help me when baking gluten free in this tropical climate with so much humidity this time of year. Sift your ingredients, not once but twice. Yes, I know, this is a wacky cake. I sifted. Twice.

When I made this cake last night for Meetup, it was ok, but I knew I could do better. The cake in last night's Meetup video was a little dry, I knew I could do better. Among the changes, I increased the fat slightly,  and used half oil and half vegan mayo. It vastly improved the cake, it was SO moist the 2nd time around. Also, you can use any liquid you like instead of the coconut milk, especially noting that most depression cakes simply use water. When making gluten free baked goods, you've essentially removed the protein from the cake because there's no gluten. Gluten gives cakes structure, so gluten free cakes need something to help with that. I added some guar gum, you could use xanthan gum instead. Also... you'll see I did not use water, I used unsweetened coconut milk. This gave the cake more structure than my first try, maybe because there is a little protein in the coconut milk. If that's true (protein), then I would imagine if you don't care about your cake being soy free, use soy milk, you'll probably get an even firmer structure, but still with a good crumb.

When I bake gluten free cakes, I like to use combinations of medium and lightweight flours. I almost never use a heavy weight flour in gluten free cakes (i.e.: almond flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour, etc) because they give me a far too dense end result. Despite this, I still combine different flours, and any time I use rice flour in a cake I like to do a "mix in" to help overcome any gritty texture that may exist in the baked cake. Rice flour helps give structure, but since I also cannot find superfine rice flour in bulk, I use regular organic rice flour. Here in this case, I've mixed in the allergen free chocolate chips. I find that rice flour is great in most cookies, and there is never an issue with texture. Different beast I guess.

And, lastly, I'd like to mention that I do use almost entirely organic ingredients. For some reason I am unable to find organic sorghum flour through the suppliers down here, but other than that, EVERYTHING in my cake is organic. Also, here we support fair trade so know that my sugars, cocoa, extracts, and chocolate in this cake are fair trade. I like to use the Multiple Organics line of allergen free organic fair trade chocolate chips as it comes in bulk quantities. Usually you'll find the Enjoy Life line of allergen free chocolate chips on most supermarket shelves, which are good too, just not fair trade.

Enough chit chat, let's get to the recipe. This is an original recipe of mine. Even if you are not allergic to things like nuts, soy, gluten or wheat, it's always good to have a recipe like this around the house in case someone dear to you with allergies comes for a visit and you want to be the hero and give them cake.  If you share this recipe, please tell people where you got it from, and that it was me. Only fair as I do that all the time as well.

Allergen-Free Double Chocolate Wacky Cake - use organic as much as possible!
Serves: 1 8" or 9" layer
By: Jen D. at Deer Run Bed and Breakfast, Big Pine Key, Florida

3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup arrowroot, corn starch or potato starch
3 tablespoons rice flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup organic sugar (regular sugar is NOT vegan, use organic or certified vegan sugar)
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp guar gum OR xanthan gum

1 cup non-dairy milk of choice (I used coconut to keep it allergen free)
3 tablespoons vegan mayo (ie: Vegenaise or Just Mayo, make sure its GF/SF/NF)
3 tablespoons safflower oil
1 teaspoon chocolate extract (use vanilla if you don't have chocolate)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup allergen free vegan chocolate chips


Prepare one 8" OR 9" pan by greasing and dusting with cocoa. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees (yes, 300). Either sift your ingredients in a bowl, or sift them into the prepared pan (that's a wacky cake tradition). Add in your wet ingredients directly to the dry--either in the bowl, or in the pan--and stir. If you are mixing your ingredients in a bowl first, really whisk your ingredients well.... think of the air as an ingredient, whisking very well will help make your gluten free cake fluffier. You cannot over mix a gluten free cake, as there is no gluten in there to develop, ok? I whisked mine by hand about 5 minutes, it became glossy, shiny and exceptionally smooth.

Pour into prepare pan (if you used a separate bowl), then bake 22 minutes. Check for doneness with a wooden toothpick... a few moist crumbs should cling to the toothpick. If not, bake another 2-3 minutes and remove. Gluten free cakes cook faster (usually) and can overbake quickly. Always remember, your baked goods will continue to bake a few minutes even after you've removed them from the oven. Trust me, reduce your oven temp on this recipe, and don't let this go longer than I've recommended.

Cool in pan on wire rack, and dust with confectionary sugar or cocoa prior to serving. Or, if desired, frost with your favorite frosting, I used my own version of allergen free vanilla vegan white frosting, and dusted with cocoa.

Lastly... use an oven thermometer. I will not be blamed for a crappy oven. My baker's oven runs almost 30 degrees hotter than I set it for. This is pretty much normal.

Go vegan, stay vegan.


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