Our family is wrapping up Birthday Season after a busy summer. Each month of the summer, we have a birthday in our family and each month I assign myself the role of baking and decorating the cake. I would like to consider myself fairly creative and artistic, but when it comes to cakes, my artistry is dismal and mediocre at best.
Especially when you factor in that our cakes are vegan.
When I was growing up, my mother made every one of my and my siblings cakes. It is a tradition I’m very sentimental about and something special I wanted to pass along to my kids. I love the idea of taking the time and care to make their cakes unique. And then reality sets in. The parties for my children are always a bit extra because since I’m a Wannabe Pinterest Mom, I definitely fall for that trap.
I used to go for the boxed cake mix to save on time because goodness knows, the cake is just one cog of the intricate machine of a birthday party that has to compete with what I saw on Pinterest. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to make a vegan cake taste delicious and not crumble to pieces so that you can ombre away.
For any vegan mom out there who puts herself through this sweet burden instead of buying premade cakes from Whole Foods, this is for you!
Do not buy a devil’s food boxed mix! Oh, it is sinfully delicious, but trust me, your cake will crumble away in a chocolate landslide. I learned this the hard way when we made my son’s dinosaur cake. Thankfully, the landslide sort of worked with the sparkler volcano on top and was an appropriate Jurassic disaster.
Flax eggs are your best egg replacement. They do not take away from the taste of your cake and the ground flax seeds blend right in with the rest of the cake. Your other options are banana, pumpkin puree, chia seeds, aqua faba, store-bought egg replacers and more! In my opinion, banana and pumpkin make for a more dense cake but can sometimes alter the flavor, especially with a delicate vanilla. Chia seeds will get stuck in your teeth but flax seeds form more of a gelatinous paste and you shouldn’t notice them. Just substitute any egg with one tablespoon of seeds and three tablespoons of water. Set aside for five minutes and your emulsifier is ready!
Crumb coat! Oh please, please put a crumb coat on that beautiful cake! My daughter’s Peppa Pig cake had chocolate crumbs mixed with pink frosting that was resourcefully covered up with a chocolate mud puddle. Crisis averted. If you make your cakes a day ahead of your party, stick your sponge in your fridge for a few hours and then put on your crumb coat. You can add the final layer of frosting and intricate details the following day.
It is ok to give up and throw the cake in the trash. I hope you are an accomplished baker and are laughing at my tips thinking that they are beginners’ mistakes! Truly and genuinely, I hope that is your case. However, for the new vegan mom who is already overwhelmed with this new lifestyle, cakes are supposed to make people smile, not scream! On one occasion, my cakes completely crumbled away when I flipped them out of the pans. There was no salvaging them and I did not have time to make new cakes. I sent my husband down the road to Whole Foods and had him buy a cake. I scraped off the frosted flowers and added my own embellishments in order to fit the party theme. Was it homemade? Nope, not at all. Was it a cute Paw Patrol cake that my 3-year-old loved and ate anyway?
Cakes are so often thought of as the centerpiece to a party, they are the central focus to a mother’s stress in preparing a party. We all want our cakes to be picture-perfect, and at times, vegan cakes can be disagreeable. Remember, it’s not the cake everyone is there to celebrate, it’s your precious child.