I made this cake recently for my reluctantly vegan daughter-in-law. She was attending the same birthday party I made the Thomas the Tank Engine for. That cake was gluten free but did contain buttermilk and eggs. I just didn’t want her to feel left out. I remembered the vegan chocolate cake on the BBC’s Simply Nigella – it seemed the perfect solution. This second cake was so quick and easy to make, slipped in between doing the fondant icing decorations for Thomas.
So that everyone at the party could try it, I made the cake gluten free as well as vegan. Everyone at the party did try it – tentatively eating tiny slivers. Then their expressions changed to surprised smiles. ‘I’ve never tried anything vegan before. This is actually really good’, they said. They wanted seconds. I got asked for the recipe.
for the icing:
60ml cold water
75g coconut butter (not coconut oil)
50g soft dark sugar, or unrefined sugar such as Rapadura/Panela
1½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
1½ tablespoons cocoa
150g 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped
for the cake:
225g self-rising gluten free cake flour
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp instant espresso powder
75g unsweetened cocoa
300g soft dark brown sugar (I used Rapadura)
375ml hot water from a recently boiled kettle
75g coconut oil
1½ tsp cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
Grease and line a 20cm/8in round leak-proof springform cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Make the icing:
Put all of the icing ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil. Once everything is dissolved, turn off the heat and leave the pan on the hob. Quickly add the finely chopped chocolate and swirl the pan. Leave for a scant minute, then whisk until you have a glossy icing, and leave to cool. Give the icing a stir once in a while with a spatula.
Make the cake:
Put the flour, salt, instant espresso and cocoa in a bowl and mix together.
Mix together the sugar, hot water, coconut oil and vinegar until the coconut oil has melted. Stir into the dry ingredients, then pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-45 minutes. Test for doneness – a toothpick should have a few crumbs clinging to it.
Transfer to a wire rack and let the cake cool before removing from the pan.
Ice the cake:
Give the icing a stir. It needs to be runny enough to cover the cake, but thick enough to stay (mostly) on the top. Pour over the cake, and use a spatula to ease the icing to the edges, if needed. Sprinkle with any decorations you may wish. I used little white chocolate stars, which come in ready-made pots from my local supermarket.