sometimes, you have to resort to bribery. to attract volunteers to the demonstration garden, we tell perspective volunteers that there will be cake to snack on. we also tell them that there are plants and produce to share but the cake seems to get their attention quicker. but baking a cake every week means that i have to find a recipe and secure the ingredients. every now and then, someone comes out to the garden with a dietary issue that can make it especially challenging. we recently had a few volunteers who followed a vegan diet and that makes baking cakes a real challenge.
believe it or not, butter adds moisture and flavor to cakes as well as texture from the fat. eggs strengthen the structure and help add volume by holding the air that is mixed in during the baking process. milk and buttermilk add flavor as well as moisture-try substituting water sometime, you will taste the difference. let’s not forget, a true vegan diet also means no honey since the harvesting process kills bees and honey adds moisture, helps retain moisture with its hygroscopic nature and honestly, it tastes really good in a cake! when you have to eliminate these items, it can make baking a good cake difficult, even for a pro.
with the garden in full swing now, there are so many possibilities. berries, figs, peaches, carrots, summer squash and let’s not forget an abundance of herbs to choose from. in my own garden, i had a few zucchini and some carrots to harvest and they both work well in cakes. since this is a vegan recipe, i had to make a few changes to the original recipe. the current darling of the diet world is coconut. this recipe utilizes both coconut oil and an unsweetened coconut milk beverage rather than the traditional kind in the can. to find these ingredients, check the natural food section of the grocery store. the oil is sold in jars and is semi solid at room temperature. the coconut milk beverage is packed in quart sized cartons and is sold alongside soy and rice milk. substituting the eggs is tricky. to get a nice texture with a small crumb, i find that ener-g egg replacer works the best and this can also be found in the same section of the store.
and for those of you that are not interested in baking a vegan cake, this recipe can be quickly converted. substitute and equal amount of butter for the coconut oil, buttermilk for the coconut beverage and 3 large eggs rather than the equivalent amount of egg replacer.