By Jennifer Provenza at Good Food From The Heart
Whole food plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, soy free
This whole food plant based birthday cake is chocolate coconut heaven! Oil and refined sugar free, but you would never know it! Make someone’s day with this vegan fudgy chocolate cake.
Hey, Hey, It’s Your Birthday
Recently, we celebrated my husband’s birthday. And he…is a chocolate guy. I mean, it’s not that he won’t eat another kind of cake. But, also, he needs a chocolate cake for his birthday. I feel pretty strong love for chocolate myself and so do my kids. This year, the cake was a bit of a challenge, however. Over the years I’ve gotten very good at making vegan birthday cake. There are easy substitutes for butter and eggs. On the other hand, Ian now has to be very careful to avoid things like white flour and sugar because of his diabetes. Still, for his birthday, I wanted him to be able to enjoy a delicious cake. This fudgy vegan cake was a total experiment. I started with a base recipe for “depression cake” or “wacky cake.” This is an accidentally vegan cake that was invented during the depression when butter and milk were rationed. The cake uses baking soda and vinegar for the rising action, but also uses white flour and lots of sugar. That made it a no go for me.
Sugar is a fairly easy thing to do away with, luckily. For those who are just worried about refined sugar, you can use coconut sugar and it will work great. If you need to avoid sugar entirely, make the stevia option. Other sweeteners would work as well (such as Splenda), but will of course contain chemicals. I also add a banana for extra natural sweetness. Don’t worry, banana haters, you really can’t taste it in the final product.
The oil was a harder substitute to make. However, I landed on a combination of almond butter and some almond flour to add healthy fat. Finally, I used both whole wheat pastry flour and oat flour for that finer more delicate crumb you want for cake.
Then there was the frosting. How oh how can you make a buttercream like frosting without butter? Enter coconut cream. This (in combination with melted dark chocolate) made a perfectly delicious frosting! I even was able to use stevia sweetened chocolate. And guess what, everyone? Not only did my husband and in laws love this cake, but even my six year old said it was delicious and asked for two pieces! You can’t ask for more than that.
Q and A
Can I use other kinds of flour? You can substitute white whole wheat flour for the whole wheat pastry flour if necessary, but don’t skip the almond flour or the oat flour as it really adds to the proper flavor, texture, and fat content.
How do I make oat flour? Simply process rolled oats in a high speed blender or food processor. You can also buy oat flour, but I’ve had bad luck with it tasting bitter (which apparently means it has gone bad).
Can I use other nut butters? Sure. Just keep in mind that almond butter has a mild flavor you won’t notice. Peanut butter will make this a peanut butter chocolate chip cake. (Not that that’s a bad thing.)
Can I leave out the coffee? You could substitute warm water, but the coffee really gives it a richer chocolate flavor. Feel free to use decaf (I did, since my kids would be eating this late in the evening.)
Can I use low fat coconut milk? Sorry, not for this recipe! The coconut cream from the top of a can of full fat coconut milk is all that will work to make this frosting.
What kind of dark chocolate should I use? Any kind you want, but I am in love with Lily’s dark chocolate, which is sweetened with stevia.
What if I can’t find almond flour? You can make your own by processing almonds in the food processor or high speed blender.
How To Make This Whole Food Plant Based Birthday Cake
Don’t worry, the ingredients may sound like a lot, but it’s actually quite easy to make. Start by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees. Next, prepare your 8 inch cake pans by cutting out a piece of parchment paper and laying it on the bottom of the pan. By the way, have you ever used parchment paper? It’s the best thing ever! I used to see it in recipe directions and think, “I don’t have that. Oh, well” or “I don’t need that.” But oh my gosh it is so worth buying! I finally tried it and wow, I no longer ever have issues with cake sticking to the bottom of the pan. I’m a convert. Also, I’m not sure what my block was against buying it as it is inexpensive and found right near the wax paper. Anyway, I digress, but if you don’t have parchment paper, go buy some right now!
Okay, so now you have your parchment paper and what I do is lay the pan down on it and trace around the outside of a pan with a pencil. Then, I cut out the circle (making sure not to leave any pencil marks in the circle that would end up in my food). I place the circle of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan and I spritz with non stick spray. Easy peasy.
Now that your pans are prepped, prep your oat flour by blending the rolled oats in a high speed blender or food processor. Do the same with almonds if you can’t find store bought almond flour.
Next, grab a large mixing bowl and add the three flours, coconut sugar or stevia, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Stir that up. Then, heat the almond butter until it’s pourable and add it to the dry ingredients along with the pureed banana, warm water, and vanilla. (I like to puree the banana versus mashing it to avoid any banana chunks in the cake.)
Now, brew your coffee if you haven’t done it yet. Best part: You only need one tablespoon of the coffee, so enjoy the rest as a pick me up while you finish making this cake.
This next part is the fun part. Add the coffee and the apple cider vinegar to the mixture. The vinegar will react with the baking soda and you will get some fun bubbling action. Connect with your inner child preparing for the science fair and enjoy the moment. Stir the whole thing up well and then divide the batter between the two pans and bake for about twenty-five minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Make sure to cool the cakes in the pan for at least ten minutes and then turn it out onto a plate and let it cool completely before frosting.
For the Dark Chocolate Coconut Frosting
While the cake is baking (or later if you prefer), make the frosting. The frosting is super easy peasy. Simply open three cans of full fat coconut milk and scoop off the coconut cream from the top. Make sure not to get the liquid beneath. Add the coconut cream to a bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Now, just break the chocolate bars into squares and heat in the microwave for thirty seconds. Stir. You may need to heat longer, but check it every thirty seconds and stir. (Alternatively, you could heat it in the top of a double boiler.) Once the chocolate is melted, add it to the coconut cream and whip the mixture at high speed until you get a frosting like consistancy.
How to Assemble This Vegan Fudgy Chocolate Cake
To put it all together, top one of the cakes with frosting and set the other cake on top. Next, frost the sides and then the top. For extra coconut flavor and decoration, top with unsweetened shredded coconut. Serve with a tall glass of ice cold almond milk and some vegan ice cream. Yum! This also would go great with my Oatmilk Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Whole Food Plant Based Birthday Cake
- 2 8 inch cake pans
For the cake
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup oat flour
- 1 cup almond flour
- 2 cups coconut sugar or 2 teaspoons of powdered stevia
- 7 tablespoons cocao or cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup almond butter
- 1 banana, pureed
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon strong coffee
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
For the Frosting
- coconut cream from 3 cans of full fat coconut milk
- 7 ounces dark chocolate sweetened with stevia or unrefined sugar
- unsweetened shredded coconut (optional, for topping)
To Make the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare the two 8-inch pans by lining the bottom with parchment paper and spraying with non stick spray.
- Make the oat flour by blending rolled oats in a high speed blender until the consistancy of flour.
- In a large bowl, mix the whole wheat pastry flour, oat flour, almond flour, coconut sugar or stevia, salt, cocoa powder, and baking soda.
- Heat the almond butter until it is pourable and add to the dry ingredients, along with the pureed banana, vanilla, and warm water.
- Add the coffee, along with the apple cider vinegar. Stir well and watch the mixture foam.
- Pour the batter into the pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan. Then, turn out onto a plate and let cool completely before frosting.
To Make the Frosting
- Take only the coconut cream from the top of three cans of full fat coconut milk. Be sure not to take any of the thinner liquid beneath. Put the coconut cream into a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.
- Break the chocolate into squares and melt in a double boiler or in the microwave. Microwave at thirty second intervals and stir.
- Add the melted chocolate to the coconut cream and mix at high speed until well blended and the consistancy of frosting.
To Assemble the Cake
- Frost the top of one of the cakes and set the other cake on top of it. Proceed by frosting the sides and then top of the cake. Optionally, add unsweetened shredded coconut to the top of the cake. Serve with ice cold almond milk and vegan ice cream.
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