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.