I am using Vegan Week as an excuse to introduce you to one of my all-time favorite cakes. Vegan or no, this is the cake you should turn to if you ever have a craving for a damp tea cake fragrant with citrus and sticky with a luscious glaze. Seriously, doesn't that look good right now, in the dark days of winter? This cake has a double bonus: It takes five minutes to make. Vegan, quick, easy, utterly foolproof and delicious — how can you not try it?
I first started making this cake a few years ago, when baking for a vegan friend. Dessert always seemed to be the hardest thing to figure out, when cooking for vegans, and I was thrilled to find a cake that was so easy, and so yummy. It seemed too good to be true!
This cake belongs to a breed of cakes known as "wacky cakes." Supposedly they were very popular during the Depression and World War II given their freedom from expensive (and rationed) eggs and butter. Instead they rely on oil for fat, and on vinegar and baking soda for lift. The cake texture is a little less fine-crumbed and a little more damp than a classic butter cake. Personally, I like this, as I prefer my cakes on the very moist side.
This particular recipe has been around for a long time, and while I made a few small changes, it's essentially unchanged. Here's where I found it:
• See the original recipe: Vegan Orange Cake at Family Nature
This is a rather sweet cake, so I substituted a little brown sugar for a deeper flavor, and I also added a marmalade glaze for an extra-sticky touch. The slight bitterness of the marmalade complements the sweet cake in an utterly perfect way.
One final suggestion: If you're making this for a non-vegan crowd, pair it with a good pistachio ice cream! I did this, and it was just heavenly. And of course if you are making it for vegans, you can always make a vegan version, like this one from Cate's World Kitchen.
• Vegan Pistachio Ice Cream at Cate's World Kitchen
Have you ever made a wacky cake? Have you ever tried an orange version like this one?
makes two 9-inch round layers
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 orange, zested
2 cups orange juice
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon rum or vodka (or water)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and lightly grease the paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Whisk until thoroughly combined, crumbling the brown sugar with the tips of your fingers if necessary.
In a separate bowl or large measuring cup whisk together the orange juice, vegetable oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Quickly mix the wet ingredients into the dry mix and whisk thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
Let the cakes cool for about 20 minutes in the cake pans, then run a knife around the inside of the pan to release each layer. Turn the cake layers out onto cooling racks. Glaze while the cakes are still warm, but not hot.
To make the glaze, mix the marmalade and rum or vodka in a small saucepan. Warm over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the glaze is bubbling and hot. Turn off the heat and immediately glaze the cake.
Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Pierce the top with a toothpick a few times. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the solid bits of the marmalade and set them aside in a small bowl. Pour about half the liquid in the saucepan over the first cake layer. Place the second layer on top of the first, and repeat. Spoon the solid bits of marmalade peel on top of the cake.
More Vegan Desserts from The Kitchn
Pictured above, left to right:
• Life-Changing Vegan Thumbprints
• Chocolate Cupcakes (Vegan! Gluten-Free!) & Coconut Icing
• Thai Mango with Coconut Sticky Rice
(Images: Faith Durand)