Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Particular Sadness of Vegan Lemon Cake

A vegan lemon cake, or any vegan cake for that matter, must be a rather sad cake in contrast with its non-vegan counterpart by virtue of its composition, or by virtue of what its composition lacks, right?  Not so!  In fact, much to my surprise, there is nothing particularly sad about this lemon cake at all -- except for the fact that it is the only unhealthy recipe I've posted to date. 

Honestly, I've never had much of a sweet tooth at all.  While others regularly crave chocolate, I crave salsa.  I seldom partake in the birthday cake, and I almost never gravitate toward the dessert table, instead choosing to have another helping of scalloped potatoes or one more piece of bruschetta.  And while I will opt for savory over sweet almost any day of the week, there are those rare times when the urge for something sugary hits me, and that's what happened today. Early this morning, I was just staring at the beautiful lemon tree that stands beside my front porch and reliably supplies me and my family with our daily allotment of lemons -- we use lemons for everything from salad dressings and soup enhancers to scrubbing chicken parts and cleaning barbecues.  Upon seeing dozens of ripe lemons high up in the tree, I became overwhelmed with the desire to attempt a VEGAN lemon cake.  So I went into action mode and started hunting down various recipes for inspiration.  Here is the end result, and it's really delicious!

Tart and Moist Vegan Lemon Pound Cake with Macadamia Nuts and Sweet and Sour Icing

First, I pick a bunch of lemons from the tree.  This recipe requires about 5 juicy organic lemons in total.  It's especially important to use organic lemons in this dish because plenty of lemon rind will be consumed.

Next, I measure out and combine the dry ingredients:  1-1/2 cups of white flour (I know, bad!), 1 cup of white granulated sugar (worse than bad!), and 1 teaspoon of baking soda.

Then I zest lemons until I have about 2 tablespoons of lemon zest.  If you don't have a zester, a grater with small holes will do the trick.

Next I measure out the remaining ingredients, which include 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice, 3/4 cup of water, 5 tablespoons of vegetable oil, a teaspoon of good vanilla, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts.  I combine all the wet ingredients into a separate measuring cup and add in the lemon zest.

Then I coarsely chop the macadamia nuts, and toss those in with the liquid as well.  Finally, I whisk the wet ingredients, pour the contents into the bowl of dry ingredients, and let the chemistry experiment begin.  As the baking soda reacts with the vinegar, everything bubbles up.  Although you may be tempted to stop and watch, it's important to stay on course and keep whisking everything until a smooth and creamy batter emerges.

Then I pour the batter into an ungreased loaf pan and bake it at 350 degrees for about an hour, checking for doneness in 5 minute intervals after about 50 minutes.

When the cake is fully cooked I remove it from the oven and allow it time to completely cool down.

Once the cake reaches room temperature, I carefully removed it from pan, set it on a serving plate, and  prepare the lemon glaze for the top by quickly whisking together 3/4 cup of powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.  This makes a very tart and sweet glaze that really tickles your tongue.  I drizzle the glaze all over the top of the cake, and then I let it cool and harden in the refrigerator.  (It's really good chilled!)  The cake should chill for at least and hour before serving, but such cakes will last for days, if refrigerated.

Moist and flavorful, this cake was surprisingly delicious inasmuch as it was made without the benefit of eggs, butter, or cream.

Actually, on second thought, what is particularly sad about this vegan lemon cake is that I discovered it the day after my mother's birthday celebration.  While my mother is not a vegan, she does not eat eggs and she avoids like the plague all butter, butter substitutes, butter flavored products, and any products that look like they might have been near any other products with butter in them, so this would have been an absolutely perfect birthday cake for my mother!  Next year, Mama Bear.

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