In the world of chocolate cake, there are those that make you want to weep tears of joy and ecstasy, and others that try really hard, but lack something in flavor or texture. This week’s Baked Sunday Mornings recipe for Hippie Cake from Baked Occasions fell into the latter category for me. This vegan chocolate cake was created to celebrate Earth Day (April 22nd), and while I absolutely appreciate the sentiment, I believe that cake needs eggs and butter. I know there are desserts that are perfectly fine (good, even!) without eggs and butter, but as something of a butter groupie, I must insist on these ingredients in my cakes. I do, however, love this beautiful planet of ours and believe in doing whatever we can to preserve it; therefore, although I am not a vegan or vegan baker, I was more than happy to try out this cake in honor of Earth’s celebration.
The cake was not a complete disaster, mind you; the flavor is complex, what with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the batter. It was very chocolatey (big thumbs up), and I enjoyed the twist of adding savory Italian ingredients. (And we do know that chocolate and olive oil make a gorgeous combination…) Where it fell short for me was texture. The cake is very crumbly and difficult to handle, I presume because it doesn’t contain eggs to bind it together and impart structure.
To make the cake, you’ll first combine chopped chocolate, olive oil, and vinegar in a bowl, then pour in hot water to melt the chocolate. Whisk this together to produce an oily chocolate mixture– I will tell you it is not the most appetizing baking mixture I’ve made, what with the strong vinegar smell! We are encouraged to use a very fruity olive oil, such as the Paesano brand, which I did go ahead and order– I was amazed at how green the color was!
After whisking in the sugar, you’ll whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, baking soda) and fold this into the chocolate/oil mixture. In hindsight, I think it would be best to sift the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture– it was very hard to break up the clumps of flour with a spatula, so my batter was a little lumpy.
My cake took 39 minutes to bake (a little longer than the suggested time), and the surface was cracked and uneven, with a strange sunken pit in the center. It cracked and broke in several places while unmolding from the cake pan and transferring it to the platter, and it was challenging to cut slices without creating small piles of cake-rubble destruction. The only saving grace was the parchment paper holding it together underneath, which I accidentally forgot to peel off, but if not for that, it would have actually been a pile of crumbs.
On the bright side, the flavor was nice and the moist texture was lovely, and it was just about the easiest cake I’ve ever pulled together. I chose not to make the almond butter frosting because I don’t have any of the vegan ingredients (vegan butter, almond milk) that are needed; normally I will go out and seek niche ingredients, but I would probably not use these again, so I chose to go with a simple dusting of confectioners’ sugar, and this was really, truly just fine—I didn’t feel like anything was lacking.
I would not make this cake again, but it’s a delicious option for vegan chocolate cake. You can find the recipe for Hippie Cake at Baked Sunday Mornings, and take a look at the other bakers’ cakes too! 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2016.