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Six years ago, my best friend made a life-altering decision that I was sure would derail our entire relationship. She proudly announced she was going to continue her journey as a vegan. I was shocked. Was this really happening? Who was I going to binge on ice cream and microwave pizzas with?!
I selfishly tried to convince her that a life without cheese is not worth living. True to form, she stuck to her (non-animal-threatening) guns and insisted it was a change she was committed to. Hoping it was nothing more than a phase, I admitted defeat and waited anxiously for the text describing the cheesy dish that finally caused her to cave.
It never came.
In no time, though, my irrational fear of losing my best friend was squashed. Her vegan quest actually strengthened our relationship and I’ve learned a bunch of really cool things along the way. I’d never stopped to wonder if Sour Patch Kids were vegan before (they are, BTW).
My baking has been the biggest thing that’s benefited. Learning the ins and outs of ingredients and substitutions makes it easier to understand why and how baking works. After several years of experimenting, I finally feel confident in my ability to bake a cake that excludes all the “good” stuff, including eggs, butter, milk. There have been mishaps, sure, but those always make the best learning experiences, right?
Pumpkin Spice Cake
This pumpkin spice cake was still a challenge for me, though, because I didn’t want any strong-flavored substitutions to take away from the signature taste of fall. Flaxseeds, bananas, and apples work excellently in vegan baked goods, but they offer a bit more flavor than I’d like here. Vegan egg replacers work, but they tend to make things more dense and this pumpkin cake is already a hop, skip, and jump away from brownie density. I want it to taste like biting into a pumpkin, not feel like it. Enter blended silken tofu. For every egg, use 1/4 cup of the stuff. It’s virtually tasteless and helps the cake maintain a light, fluffy texture.
Without further adieu, here’s the recipe for a pumpkin cake that I plan on splitting with my vegan best friend now that fall has finally rolled around.
Vegan Dark Chocolate and Pumpkin Layer Cake Recipe
- 1 cup flour
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp ground ginger
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup blended silken tofu
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- 2 ounces 100% cocoa bean dark chocolate, melted
- ½ tablespoon cocoa powder
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 1 orange
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Grease three 4-inch springform pans and set aside.
- Whisk together flour, spices, baking powder, and salt.
- In a stand mixer, stir together baking soda, vinegar, tofu, vanilla, and pumpkin. Once combined, sift in dry ingredients until smooth. Pour a third of the batter into each of two of the prepared springform pans. Add the chocolate and cocoa powder to the remaining third, stir well,and pour into the third pan.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on baking rack.
- Zest an orange and set zest aside. Squeeze orange juice into bowl and stir in powdered sugar to reach a drizzling consistency.
- Use a knife to level the three cakes. Stack them (use toothpicks to stabilize if necessary), drizzle icing between each layer, and pour any leftover icing on top. Finish with orange zest.