This recipe was a bit of an experiment, but one that has worked wonderfully well which is why I’m sharing it with you.
I’d wanted to bake a vegan cake for a while, but struggled with the idea of substituting the ubiquitous eggs and butter and did not want to end up with something dry, heavy and “worthy”.
In this cake, I’ve used
- Carotino (a mixture of red palm fruit & canola oil http://www.carotino.co.uk/ ) an orange coloured oil which is quite thick and tolerates high temperatures well (making it also very suitable for frying); Sainsbury’s I know sell it as I’m sure do some independent grocers.
- reduced fat coconut milk
- canned unsweetened chestnut puree (I used http://www.merchant-gourmet.com/products/chestnuts/chestnut-puree/)
- vacuum packed cooked chestnuts
The secret (which is out now!) I think to this moist, moreish cake are the chestnut puree and the coconut milk.
This cake is no “looker”: it’s a dark brown brick of a cake, much like Parkin, studded with small pieces of cooked chestnuts, but its plainness is part of its appeal I think.
Serve it, like I did, with pears poached in red wine + coconut cream as a dessert or sliced thickly for elevenses or afternoon tea.
If you want to tinker with the recipe, you could substitute the chestnut puree for (canned) pumpkin puree, replace the chestnuts with (toasted) walnut pieces and use 2 tsp of mixed spice + 1 tsp of ground ginger to flavour the cakes.
It could probably also be turned into something chocolatey by replacing 100g of the flour with cocoa powder (the real thing, not drinking chocolate powder) and the chestnuts with small pieces of dark chocolate.
Let me know if these suggestions work: I’m interested in broadening my vegan cake repertoire!
Makes 2 1kg cakes
This is what you need:
440g plain flour
440g dark brown soft sugar
500g unsweetened chestnut puree (1 can + a bit)
250ml Carotino oil
150ml reduced fat coconut milk
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp dark rum
150g cooked chestnuts, chopped into small pieces
This is what you do:
- pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas 4
- put the chestnut pieces in a small bowl, add the rum, vanilla extract and 1 tbsp of the sugar
- grease + line the bottoms of 2 1kg loaf tins with baking paper
- in a large bowl mix the remaining sugar with the oil using a handheld mixer
- add the chestnut puree and coconut milk, whizz until smooth
- add the flour, bi-carbonate of soda and salt in three batches, making sure that the flour has been absorbed before you add the next batch
- fold in the chestnut pieces + all the soaking liquid
- divide the mixture over the two baking tins and smooth the tops with the back of a metal spoon
- bake at 180C for 1 hr and 15 minutes or until a skewer poked into the centre of the cake comes out clean
- remove the cakes from the oven and cover tightly with aluminium foil for 10 minutes, leaving the cakes to steam
- remove the foil and turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely
Good luck (if you’re planning to tinker with the recipe) + enjoy!