Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wilburton Inn- Manchester, VT

Before I start this post, I just want to mention that I have no idea where my camera is and that is why there are no pictures and have been no pictures for some time. I'm sure it's mixed in with my stuff somewhere, but I haven't had the time or patience to look for it.

There have been a mass of birthdays recently, which gave me many reasons to bake yummy cakes (Recipes at the end of the post. No, don't scroll down, just read the damn post first. Lazy). Elyssa's birthday was first so Dresden and I made her some of those amazing six-minutes cakes that everyone is so fond of. It's a bonus that they're vegan and there happen to be so many vegans in the house right now. We surprised her with them by sneaking them into the dining room, but she had somehow snuck out and there was a moment of confusion where, instead of the cake coming in unannounced and everyone singing, the cake came in and she followed after. She was surprised and pleased anyway, despite the mix-up.

Bonnie's birthday was two days after. I asked her what kind of cake she wanted and she said that she had been so fond of the six-minute cake she kind of wanted that, and she kind of wanted apple pie, but the conversation never came to a conclusion. As a compromise I made her an apple cake and a six-minute cake. The apple cake was not vegan, but I substituted the butter for applesauce and oil, so the only non-vegan thing in it were the eggs, which come from the farm anyway, so the vegans among us were willing to have a little. Everyone seemed to like it, but I thought there was not enough apple and a little too much lemon. If it were my cookbook I would have noted this in the recipe. Instead I'll just post here how I would make it now, were I to make it again.

To celebrate Bonnie's birthday we went for a picnic at Emerald Lake. She requested that she not be involved in putting the event together, so Mike and I made some food, but severely underestimated the amount of food we would need, so the portions were small. Not to worry, I never make too little cake so those portions were just fine. Bonnie's friend Terry also showed up with amazing peanut butter banana vegan cupcakes. Oliver and Max also stopped off and picked u some snacks and food from the Inn, so no one went hungry. There was kayaking, paddle-boating and plenty of relaxation (except that the plates kept blowing away, because we never really learned our lesson. Maybe people just enjoy chasing paper plates). In all, the day was a success, especially when Bonnie saw that we had made her a kitchen herb garden (pictures coming soon). We even put a bench out there in the hopes that she would b able to sit by her garden while watching her kids play in the sandbox with a trashy magazine in her hand. JUST KIDDING! Bonnie doesn't read trashy magazines. In public.

The last birthday to be celebrated was Nathaniel's. He didn't want a cake, so I took the opportunity to make something I had been really curious about. I had found a gluten-free, vegan cake online a while ago and because of it's odd ingredients I was intrigued and made a little nervous by it. It's a chocolate cake with black-eyed peas as it's base. One of our vegan WWOOFers is also gluten-free so she hadn't been partaking in birthday cakes, which gave me one more reason to attempt this crazy cake. As I was putting it together I was feeling skeptical, especially because of the one-hour baking time. It turned out AMAZING in the end and the only thing I tweaked about it was that I added a bit more sugar and possibly more chocolate (didn't really bother to measure that). The nice thing about a cake like this is that you can really play with the stuff in it, because there is no delicate balance of liquids and powders, it's pretty much just a solid mush base. Anyway, the ingredients are a little pricey, but well worth it. It's easy to make, and so delicious. The texture is wonderful as well; kind of somewhere between pudding a cake. Just trust me and make the damn thing.

A note about the recipes. These are all vegan, or easily made vegan. When using chocolate, be sure to check ingredients as many seemingly dark chocolate chips contain milk fat. If you intend to keep the cakes vegan, you'll want to be careful about this.

Gluten-free chocolate cake
Original recipe here
2 cups cooked black-eyed peas
14 oz extra-firm tofu
1 cup sugar (my adjusted amount, up from 3/4)
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or more, whatever)
1/4 cup coco powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

Toss both the black-eyed peas and the tofu into your food processor or blender, and let it run until the mixture is completely smooth. Give it a good long time to work, since it would be rather unpleasant to find any whole beans in your cake. Add in the sugar and pulse to combine.

Separately, melt the chocolate and stir well until smooth before adding into the food processor, and then let it run for a minute until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides to make sure you aren’t missing anything, and give it another minute to process. Finally, add the cocoa,baking powder, soda, and salt, and pulse to combine.

Spread the mixture into your prepared pan, leveling off the top with your spatula as best you can. Bake for about 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. I know that’s a bit vague, but it will still be ever so slightly wet since it’s such a moist cake- Just make sure it doesn’t look like it’s covered in raw batter. Let it cool completely in the pan before serving.

The following recipes are from the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts:

Six minute cake
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup coco powder (or more, whatever)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup veggie oil (or 1/4 oil, 1/4 applesauce, or all applesauce, it's really up to you. I like it with more applesauce and less oil. Creamier)
1 cup cold water or coffee (I have never tried it with coffee, because I don't like coffee, but I bet it would be good to those who love it)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

The awesome thing about this recipe is that you don't need to create a ton of dirty dishes with it. You can mix everything right up in the pan. I have not tried this because I a, always making massive quantities and also layering the cakes. If you want to stack the cakes and put a layer of jam between them (I highly recommend this), you'll need to put a layer of parchment paper down in the pan, as these cakes stick no matter what you do. If you do this, mixing in the pan is pretty impossible.

Mix together flour, coco, baking soda, salt and sugar directly into cake pan. In your measuring cup combine oil, applesauce, water, and vanilla. Pour liquid into dry ingredients and mix with a fork until smooth. Add in the vinegar and mix quickly, it will start to bubble and react, but mix until just incorporated.

Bake for 25- 30 minutes and let cool. If you go the jam route, dump the cooled cake out of the pan and spread jam on the flatter side of one. Put the other cake on top, flat side down (get it? flat sides go together better). Rock out with your cake.

If you want an east yummy frosting:
melt a half pound of chocolate, stir in 3/4 cup hot water and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Pour over cooled cake and then refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then rock out with your cake.

Apple cake
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup oil
1 cup packed brown sugar (I used turbinado, but brown might be better)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs (or 1 well mashed banana, haven't tried this, but I bet it would be tasty)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups peeled and chopped apples
1 tbl lemon juice

preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 inch square pan

Combine applesauce, oil and sugar, beating until well combined by hand or with a mixer. Whatever. Add vanilla, then beat in eggs one at a time, or banana a little at a time. combine four, baking powder, soda and salt. fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture- the batter will be stiff. fold in chopped apples and lemon juice.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until cake is golden and knife comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temp.


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