Best Ever Chocolate Vegan Cake

Last weekend was all about baking. I made 2 Chocolate Cake Loaves, 40 Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies, 10 Light Brioche Buns and 1 Banana-Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. I feel tired just wring this... Chocolate cakes and most of the cookies were for a charity bake sale.

I volunteer with the Forgotten Ones Cat Rescue organization. It's a wonderful group of people who are dedicated to rescuing cats from the streets, caring for them, providing loving foster homes and ultimately finding forever homes for the animals. This cause is very close to my heart as I have two rescued cats in my household.

Chocolate Vegan Cake - no butter, no eggs, no sour cream, but same intense chocolate flavour and moist interior. You will never go back to another recipe for a Chocolate Cake again.

Last weekend FOCR had a big adoption event where lots of cats were brought into a local Pet Valu store to bring awareness about this organization and raise a little bit of money through the bake sale. One of the directors emailed me after the bake sale and asked for the recipe for the chocolate cake that I brought. So, I figured that it's time to post it here.

I discovered this cake exactly a year ago and since then I made it more than a dozen times. I have experimented with the recipe by adding bananas, peanut butter and even gingerbread spices during the holidays. My latest variation included Prunes, but the original recipe is a classic. Every time I want to make another cake, I keep thinking why would I add two sticks of butter, four eggs and a cup of sour cream when I can have the same intensely chocolatey taste, same softness and same moist interior in a cake with half the fat? I made this recipe as a humble loaf, as a single layer cake and once I baked it as a beautiful multi layer cake for a fancy dinner dessert.

Chocolate Vegan Cake - no butter, no eggs, no sour cream, but same intense chocolate flavour and moist interior. You will never go back to another recipe for a Chocolate Cake again.

Best Ever Chocolate Vegan Cake

adapted from Martha Stewart's Cakes

For the cake
Warm water - 1 cup
Unsweetened cocoa powder - 1/2 cup
Flour - 1 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Baking soda - 3/4 teaspoon
Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
Canola oil - scant 1/2 cup
Vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
White Vinegar - 2 teaspoons
For the glaze
Chocolate chips, semi-sweet - 60 g
Icing sugar - 1/2 cup
Water - 2 tablespoons
Orange oil - 1/4 teaspoon
  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Butter and flour baking pan * See note on the pan size.
  • In a small bowl whisk water and cocoa powder until smooth.
  • In a separate large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Mix.
  • Add oil, cocoa mixture and vanilla and whisk until flour disappears.
  • Add vinegar and mix until smooth.
  • Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until wooden toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. **
  • Take the cake out and let cool in pan for about 20 minutes before removing it from pan.
  • Meanwhile make the glaze, in a small bowl melt chocolate chips either in microwave or over a water bath.
  • In a separate bowl mix icing sugar and water until smooth.
  • Add melted chocolate to icing sugar mixture and mix well.
  • Add orange oil and mix until combined.
  • Pour the glaze over the cake and let stand for a few minutes until it the glaze thickens before serving.

Comments
* This recipe works well for standard 10x5 loaf pan, it also works for 11x5 loaf pan, 8x8 square pan and 8" round pan.
** Original recipe calls for 30-35 min baking time. I don't think I've ever made it in less than 40 minutes. Time will also depend on a pan, for example 9x5 loaf pan will make the cake taller, so baking time is longer, closer to 50 minutes.

Chocolate Vegan Cake - no butter, no eggs, no sour cream, but same intense chocolate flavour and moist interior. You will never go back to another recipe for a Chocolate Cake again.
Posted on April 25, 2015 and filed under Recipe.

Quinoa Broccoli Cakes with Poached Egg

Do you love quinoa? I got onto this quinoa trend a couple of years ago. First time making it, I read the cooking directions on the package and cooked it with some chicken stock paste (this is one of my favourite products that Costco used to sell but does not anymore). Unfortunately I didn't mix the paste well enough and A. got a spoonful of super salty concentrated quinoa on his first bite and since then he claims that he doesn't like it. Personally I think he's just being stubborn, so I keep making it and he keeps saying that he's not a fan. So, from time to time I "hide" it in other recipes and try to trick him into admitting that he likes it.

Healthy Quinoa Broccoli Cakes with Poached Egg are perfect for an elegant brunch or light dinner. Treat your mom on Mother's Day with this easy and flavourful dish.

Adding quinoa to lentil soups is one of those tricks. It provides an interesting texture, adds protein and gives another flavour dimension to the soups. Sometimes I mix rice and quinoa together and make casseroles. But one of my favourite ways of "hiding" quinoa is making Broccoli Quinoa Cakes with it. Crunchy outside texture, slight saltiness from the cheese and even "meaty" interior make for a very satisfying cakes that even A. doesn't mind (too much).

One thing that he really dislikes though is runny egg yolk (what's up with that?). So, although this meal is one of my favourites, I don't make it too often. It's mostly when I have to eat dinner/lunch alone and I feel like cooking (normally, when I'm by myself I don't cook and rely on leftovers or sandwiches).

Healthy Quinoa Broccoli Cakes with Poached Egg are perfect for an elegant brunch or light dinner. Treat your mom on Mother's Day with this easy and flavourful dish.

For years I was afraid of making poached eggs until I finally read a bunch of articles, instructions, watched videos and tried it. Surprise, surprise, it was super easy! The trick is to add vinegar to the boiling water and create a little "whirlpool" so that the egg white will wrap around the egg instead of spreading all over the pan. 

The combination of crunch cakes and creamy egg yolk is luscious. This could easily be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or midnight snack. With Mother's Day coming up, it's a perfect way to treat Mom to an elegant, delicious and yet healthy brunch.

This recipe isn't really adapted from any particular site, there are plenty of inspiration on Pinterest and I just used whatever ingredients I had in my fridge.

Quinoa Boccoli Cakes with Poached Egg

Serves 4 with eggs or makes 8-10 cakes

Cooked, seasoned quinoa - 2 cups
Cooked, seasoned broccoli florets, chopped - 1 cup
Grated parmesan - 1/2 cup
Lemon juice - 2 teaspoons (optional)
Salt, pepper to taste
Lemon juice - 2 teaspoons (optional)
Salt, pepper to taste
Eggs - 2
Eggs - 2
Bread crumbs (I use panko) - 1/2 cup (or more if needed)
Oil for frying
If making cakes with poached eggs, then 4 eggs + 2 teaspoons vinegar + 1 teaspoon salt
  • In a large bowl combine together quinoa, chopped broccoli, cheese and mix well.
  • Add lemon juice if using, seasonings to taste and mix.
  • In a small bowl beat 2 eggs with a fork until they are mixed, add eggs to quinoa mixture and combine.
  • Add breadcrumbs to the mixture. If it's too wet, then add more breadcrumbs.
  • Heat a frying pan on medium and brush some oil to cover the pan.
  • Divide the mixture into 8 or 10 equal parts (depending on size) and form into patties.
  • Fry until crispy and golden brown about 10 minutes per side. You may need to reduce the heat a little bit if they start browning too quickly. Alternatively, you could fry them on each side just until they are crispy and then finish cooking them in the oven at 350F for about 20-25 minutes.
  • To poach eggs, use Alton Brown's method, it's actually not that difficult. In short, bring water in a large saucepan to boil, add vinegar and salt. Crack one egg at a time in a small bowl. Start swirling a spoon inside the pot to make a whirlpool and careful drop the egg into the pot. Turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Serve cakes by themselves with some creamy horseradish, greek yogurt or just some lemon veggies. Or serve them with the poached eggs and freshly ground black pepper and some coarse salt.

Comments
-
You could use more broccoli and add other leftover vegetables.
- This recipe is easily adaptable for more ingredients if needed. Just mix quinoa and veggies in 2 to 1 or 2 to 2 ratio, add cheese, eggs and enough breadcrumbs to absorb the liquid and make mixture that could be shaped into cakes. 

Healthy Quinoa Broccoli Cakes with Poached Egg are perfect for an elegant brunch or light dinner. Treat your mom on Mother's Day with this easy and flavourful dish.
Posted on April 22, 2015 and filed under Recipe.

Light Brioche Buns

It's finally Spring in Toronto. Last Friday was perfect - warm and sunny and did I mention it was warm? Yes, it was warm! I forgot what warm feels like. We had a really long and really cold winter here, so warm seemed like something similar to Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot. But I left work on Friday night and it was warm. In fact, I had to take my coat off which I thought would never ever happen.

So, on Friday I was going home and I thought that it would be a perfect day to open a BBQ season. We have some frozen burgers (yeah, yeah, I know... store-bought burgers shouldn't really be talked about in a food blog, but these are good with only meat listed as their ingredient and they are so much easier and faster than homemade), so I thought that I could quickly make some burger buns (to make up for store-bought frozen burgers) and it would be a perfect dinner.

Light Brioche Buns are ready to be eaten in 1.5 hours from start to finish. With less fat than regular brioche, but same rich taste. Perfect for burgers or sandwiches.

I started the dough and told A. to get the burgers. Well, as it turned out the grill needed to be thoroughly cleaned after winter and it would take some time, so we decided against burgers. But dough was already rising, so I still made buns, just smaller. 

I used Portuguese Girl Cooks recipe as a loose guide and changed the ingredients and proportions quite a bit. I also increased proofing time, just because... And they turned out delicious! Here's proof. While I was photographing them, one of my cats decided to steal half a bun :)

Light Brioche Buns are ready to be eaten in 1.5 hours from start to finish. With less fat than regular brioche, but same rich taste. Perfect for burgers or sandwiches. Even cats like them :)

Light Brioche Buns

Adapted from Portuguese Girl Bakes 
Makes 10 sandwich buns or 6-8 burger buns depending on size

Milk - 3/4 cup
Cream 10% - 1/2 cup
Butter - 1/4 cup
Egg yolks - 2
Maple syrup - 2 tablespoons
Instant yeast - 1.5 tablespoons
Flour - 2 3/4 cup + more if needed up to 1/3 cup
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water for egg wash
Sesame seeds (optional) for topping
  • In a small pot add milk, cream, butter and heat until butter is melted. Cool a little bit. Mixture must be warm but not hot.
  • Add milk-butter mixture to a bowl of a mixer, add maple syrup, yeast and let stand for 5 minutes until foamy.
  • Add egg yolks and mix.
  • Add half the flour, salt and start mixing on low speed using the dough hook.
  • Keep adding more flour 1/4 cup at a time. Dough shouldn't be overly sticky, but shouldn't be hard. It should be just a tiny little bit sticky to the touch.
  • Once the proper consistency is reached, knead for another 5-7 minutes.
  • Cover the bowl and let it relax for about 20-30 minutes in warm space. It will rise a little bit, but not much.
  • Once the dough has relaxed and risen a little bit, start preheating the oven on to 425F.
  • Divide the dough into 10 (or less pieces), shape into buns and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper leaving 3 inches between buns.
  • Cover the buns with clean kitchen towel and let stand for another 20 minutes to rise.
  • Mix an egg and a tablespoon of water and brush the egg wash over buns.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds if using.
  • Place the buns in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until they are golden brown.

Comments
I really liked these buns. I think next time I'll add more maple syrup and some raisins to make them into sweet treats.
- According to the original recipes, there's no need to let the dough rise after kneading, but I since I had time, I felt that flavour of the final buns and texture would benefit from a little bit of resting time.

Light Brioche Buns are ready to be eaten in 1.5 hours from start to finish. With less fat than regular brioche, but same rich taste. Perfect for burgers or sandwiches.

 

Posted on April 19, 2015 and filed under Recipe.