This is not a healthy cake.
Nor is it sugar-free in ANY way.
But it is vegan. And delicious (or so I have been told – I’ve just started a 30 day sugar-free challenge).
My beautiful friend from the US turned 25 this week, and to celebrate (with the help of her incredibly lovely mother back home) we threw her a surprise birthday party. I’ve thrown parties before, but never a surprise one. It honestly sent my “double-checking, make back up plans to eliminate unnecessary things going wrong” self a little bit crazy. Actually getting someone to go out somewhere when they think that nobody wants to do anything with them is neither a nice thing to do to a friend, nor an easy thing to pull off. Thank goodness for convincing friends and complicated cover stories.
Despite a couple of moments of nervousness, I must admit that it was completely worth it though to see the look on her face when she walked in the door. That, “I have zero idea what is happening right now, but this is a good thing… I think” expression that people get when all of their expectations have been turned on their head is pretty special.
Because the birthday girl is vegan, we went to the amazing newly re-opened licensed vegan restaurant Greenhouse Canteen. If you want a vegan experience that will blow your mind, this is definitely it. The generous serving sizes of utterly delicious, nourishing food will make you feel so good inside and out (well, that’s if you don’t happily end up in a uncomfortably full food coma, which is usually where I’m at). It’s one of those places that will have you eating far after you feel full, because you know you’ll regret it if you stop eating. I have now had the Planet Plate and the Savoury Socca (both usual choices which I highly recommend), but I have tried the nachos, vegan pulled pork enchiladas and the Vietnamese pancakes. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every mouthful of food I have ever had there. The staff are absolutely divine, and ridiculously accommodating. They even let me decorate and bring my own vegan birthday cake (which they served on a beautiful platter with extra decorations and brought out with sparklers lit singing happy birthday). If you don’t BYO cake, regardless of how full you are, I suggest treating yourself to one of their raw or baked vegan desserts (the red velvet and snickers cakes are favourites – and they will even give you a container to take home what you can’t get through).
The most important thing that I have learned about getting people to love your vegan food; don’t tell people it’s vegan. Because no one in their right mind (allergies aside) could say no to this incredibly moist, heavenly creation.
Even my non-vegan, sugar-loving friends enjoyed it. I added a peanut praline in between the layers of the cake and on top for extra crunch, which was a massive hit.
- 1 and ½ cups self-raising flour
- ½ cup plain wholemeal flour
- 2 cups sugar
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
- ½ cup melted vegan butter
- 2 Tbs ground flax seed
- 1 cup almond milk
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup black coffee
- 1 cup natural peanut butter
- 1 cup vegan butter
- ½ cup icing sugar
- ⅛ cup maple syrup (for depth - otherwise add more icing sugar)
- ½ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
- Peanut praline
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tbls water
- 1/4 cup crushed roasted salted peanuts
- Optional: Vegan dark chocolate, extra peanuts (to decorate)
- Preheat oven to 180 Degrees Celsius.
- Whisk together almond milk and apple cider vinegar before mixing in the melted butter, vanilla, coffee, and ground flax.
- Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cocoa together.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Pour into a well greased 9 inch cake pan or a spring form pan and gently tap on counter to release any bubbles.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick placed in center comes out clean. Let cool.
- For the frosting, use a mixer or a blender to whip peanut butter, butter, and sweetener until smooth
- Place in fridge until ready to use.
- For the praline, stir the sugar and water in a saucepan over a low heat until combined for 2 minutes. Turn the heat up to high and let it bubble without stirring for 5-7 minutes, until it turns a golden colour. Remove from heat and set aside until it stops bubbling. Stir through peanuts and spread out onto a sheet of baking paper. After letting it cool and harden, crush the praline into smaller pieces.
- When Cake is cool, carefully cut horizontally in half to make two layers and spread half the frosting on the first layer. Sprinkle on praline and extra peanuts).
- Add the second layer and spread on the remaining frosting.
- Optional: sprinkle with the rest of the praline, peanuts and chocolate shavings.
- You could seperate the mixture into two pans if you want to avoid having to cut the cake.
- I used a youtube tutorial to learn how to make chocolate shavings; http://www.jamieoliver.com/videos/how-to-make-chocolate-shavings-jamie-s-comfort-food-kerryann-dunlop/ (it's so easy!!).