I had a vision for celebrating my birthday this year, and this was it. No crazy party, no elaborate dinner. I wanted this cake and this cake only. I can’t tell you why. I’ve always liked desserts, but baking is NOT my thing and I’ve always preferred savory styles of cooking over sweets. But this year, things were different. It was one of those “wake up in the middle of a night with an idea” kinds of things, and I knew that this was the cake I had to make. Now the execution? That took a little more thought.
Obviously, because it’s me, I knew the cake was going to be vegan. I had used beets with baking before and love the earthy, sweet undertones that come through when paired with cocoa. I thought about doing some sort of avocado chocolate frosting, but saw these beautiful blood oranges in the store and needed to incorporate them somehow.
I think plant-based baking is definitely different than traditional baking. Sure, there’s no creaming sugar and butter, no temperamental egg whites or undercooking yolks, but there’s still plenty of science involved. It’s like a fun challenge – what can I make without using added oils, sugar, butter, etc? Don’t get me wrong, this cake is totally indulgent and definitely not absent of sugar (from maple syrup) and fat (from almond butter & coconut cream,) but with both fruits AND veggies infused throughout, I definitely felt a sense of accomplishment. If you didn’t tell anyone what was actually in the cake, I doubt that beets and sweet potato would be the first guess. If you make this, feed it to someone and they guess what’s in it, I’ll be VERY surprised.
This is NOT a very sweet cake! The beets and sweet potato have a natural sweetness that is enhanced with the caramely maple syrup, but if you like sweeter cakes, I would definitely add a bit more golden syrupy goodness to your taste.
Maybe it’s because it was my birthday, or because the cake actually turned out pretty good (unlike many of my other vegan baking experiments,) but this cake really meant a lot to me. I feel like it encompasses what I’m truly passionate about: Combining art and science to make food that’s good and good for you. I’m all for indulging every now and again, but this cake proved that you don’t need excessive amounts of refined sugar and butter to make a decadent, drool worthy dessert. Am I getting emotional about a cake? Maybe. But it’s my birthday and I’ll put veggies in my cake if I want to.
- 1 cup oat flour
- 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup beet puree*
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 flax eggs**
- 2 tbsp almond butter
- 1 cup sweet potato puree*
- 1/2 cup non-dairy chocolate morsels
- 1 can full fat coconut milk***
- Juice & zest of two medium blood oranges
- Cacao Nibs
- Blood Orange Slices
- Beet Chips
- Preheat oven to 350F, Line two round 8 inch case pans with parchment paper and lightly oil the top.
- In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients until there are no visible lumps. Set aside to prepare wet ingredients.
- Combine almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. Once the milk has curdled, add all wet ingredients in a high powered blender.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a wooden spoon until a thick but pourable batter is formed. Be careful not to over mix!
- Divide the batter evenly among the two cake pans, and place in the center rack of oven. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Add non-dairy chocolate chips to a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 20 second intervals, stirring consistently until the chocolate has melted.
- Add sweet potato puree and melted chocolate to a blender, and mix until a fudge like consistency is formed. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
- Scoop the coconut solid from the top of the can and save the liquid for another use.
- Combine the coconut cream, blood orange zest and juice in a large bowl of an electric stand mixer and whip for about 5 minutes until fluffy peaks form.
- Store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Spread sweet potato ganache on one chocolate cake layer. Add the second cake layer on top of the ganache. Frost the top with the coconut frosting and garnish with fresh blood orange slices, swirls of blood orange juice, cacao nibs and beet chips.
- The cake tastes EVEN BETTER the next day after being in the fridge.
- *For the beet and sweet potato purees, I roasted one very large beet and very large sweet potato at 450 for about an hour and a half. Allow to cool, remove the skins, and scoop out the insides.
- **For flax eggs, combine 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed with about 2 tablespoons of water and let sit for a few minutes until a gel is formed.
- ***Store the can of coconut upside down in the fridge overnight for super firm cream that's easy to scoop out.