World’s Best Yellow Cake (that happens to be vegan and awesome for allergies)

cake 1

Finally, my cake recipe!

So here’s what people say about my cake…

Yes, “World’s Best Cake” is a grand claim, and it might even sound a little arrogant. I used to be sort of an Eeyore (you know, Winnie the Pooh’s friend) when people gave me compliments. Eventually, I heard so many emphatic compliments, it got through my noggin. Here are few:

“You should sell these cakes!” exclaimed a friend’s uncle with a muffled mouthful of cake at gender reveal party I hosted. He was on his third slice! (This was a pretty trim fellow too, not the type of guy who looked like he had a habit of gorging on sweets!)

“Is this a Paula Deen recipe?” said a vegan who thought she was cheating on her principles by eating my cake, imagining that it was filled with massive amounts of butter. She said she had been a vegan for decades and had never tasted a cake so good. She also told me to sell cake.

“My son never eats cake, but he likes yours. This is really good cake!” at a birthday party. Even non-cake-eaters can’t resist my cake.

Still skeptical?

I’ll never forget the lady at church who intervened when I offered a child my vegan cupcakes.

“You can have one of  those cupcakes without any eggs or milk, or one of these regular cupcakes,” she grinned sweetly. Um yeah, guess which one that kid chose!

No doubt the church-goer had good intentions, but man, it was rude of her to assume my homemade cake wasn’t at least as decent as boxed mix. Dang!

She hurt my feelings, but afterwards I realized every cupcake that wasn’t eaten went back to my freezer for my allergic baby doll.

Consolation to some of my allergy mom friends who are insulted by people who sneer at their food… remember what my Daddy gleefully said when I was dieting and turned down his baked yumminess, “More for meeee!” 

(Church-wise, though, don’t feel sorry for me. I added canned pumpkin to this recipe and a cinnamon glaze for a holiday dinner. When I was leaving, an elderly man approached me because he recognized my empty cake plate. He lamented that my platter had the cinnamony-cake his whole table was raving about, and it was all gone before he got a piece. I made it again the next year. Hopefully, he acted fast.)

Reality Check! Here’s a little factoid, friends.

You know that addictive, glorious cookie, the Oreo?

Oreos are vegan!

No eggs. No milk. An Oreo is wheat, sugar, fat and flavoring. And it is my Kryptonite.

If you have wheat, sugar, fat and flavor, you can have ultimate baking domination. 

I used to believe the myth that butter is always better. Nope! Some dairy farmers must have started that urban legend. You might notice the difference on toast, but in cake? Who cares? We all know fat is delicious!

No wheat, no problem!

I’ve made a gluten-free version of this recipe with Trader Joe’s gluten-free baking flour blend, and it was great.

Remember the uncle in Cake Heaven? He was eating the gluten-free cake with chocolate frosting.

I had worried about whether gluten-free would turn out, so I’d used a tried & true chocolate frosting recipe. I figured even if the cake was mediocre (and of course it was phenomenal!) then at least it would be saved by my trusty fabulous chocolate icing.

Frosting: Allergy Tip

Lots of the canned frostings actually have no dairy!

Don’t take my word for it, look at the Pillsbury website’s ingredients. (Don’t bother with Duncan Hines, though, because last I checked their products contained milk.) They even say it’s gluten-free!

My daughter is allergic to soy, but she can tolerate highly refined soy products like soy lecithin and soy oil. Soy flour and soy protein are some of the bad guys.

Credit for the origin of my recipe

A Depression-era recipe called “wacky cake” or “crazy cake” is a chocolate cake related to mine. Those little old-school grannies used their mad baking skills to create awesome cakes despite skimping on eggs & milk.

Would you pass up a 1930s Grandma’s homemade cake? Heck no! We should be so lucky!

Wacky cake is usually chocolate though.

I also have to credit Vegweb.com’s post by Tree Hugging Hippie. This recipe was uploaded 8 years ago and has 103 comments about how awesome it is (even the negative ones say it was probably their fault… which it was… they probably measured something wrong or left out an ingredient).

Tree Hugging Hippie must have figured out that the crazy cake recipe could be changed by eliminating the cocoa and changing the acid-base reaction.

Instead of vinegar and baking soda, Tree Hugging Hippie opted for a lemon juice. Clever! (Guess those hippies know their acids. {bad joke drum sound})

I highly recommend that recipe if you want a lemon cake.

But I looove chocolate frosting. But lemon cake with chocolate frosting? No. Just no.

My twist:

From my senior project in high school, I knew that I could safely skip the lemon juice and baking soda and use baking powder instead.

The baking powder’s neutral flavor allowed me to load up on vanilla extract.

I mentioned this tip from my dad before:

“Always double the vanilla. Nobody ever said, ‘This dessert has too much vanilla!'”

Also Tree Hugging Hippie’s version is not a enough batter for a normal two-layer cake, so I double it. I’ve even quadrupled for a sheet cake.

Funny thing: if I make a layer cake or sheet cake, it works to go heavy on the baking powder. The cake rises high and is super-fluffy.

Cupcakes are different.

Most layer cake recipes are fine as cupcakes too, but if you add this much baking powder to a cupcake, it’s bad. The cupcake rises so high that it flops and collap ses on itself.

My other alteration that Tree Hugging Hippie uses water, and instead I use a milk substitute. My daughter likes almond milk best, so we use that most. So Delicious Vanilla-Flavored Coconut Milk is another great choice. Rice milk and oat milk are pretty gross to me in their plain form, but they are fine in baking.

HAD ENOUGH SUSPSENSE?

HERE’S THE RECIPE!

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk substitute of your choice
1 cup oil
3 tablespoons of vanilla (Yeah, you read that right! Better buy that big bottle!)

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl with a wire whisk. Not a spoon.

Martha whisks! You should too! A. Not as messy as a sifter. B. You can mix all those lumps out for pristine, smooth batter. C. You mix less to incorporate. Stirring activates the gluten and it causes your final product to be tougher. Whisk = fluffy perfection!

Add wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Pour into two greased and floured cake rounds. I use Earth Balance as my go-to butter substitute.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Test with a fork. If the fork comes out without gooey batter, it’s done. The edges of the cake also begin to pull away from the pan leaving a slight gap. If you have a sharp nose, you’ll also notice the aroma gets intense as baking completes.

 

Most recipes stop here. Keep reading…

Theses cakes will be tall!

You’ll want to trim the tops with a bread knife. (If you don’t have one or know what that is, click here to see one on amazon.) Let the cake cool for a while so that it doesn’t fall apart when slicing. (Maybe 20 minutes.)

Trimming the Cake:

Resting the blade on the rim of your pan, puncture the cake with the tip of the blade. Once you sliced that gap, change the position of the knife so that you’re using a sawing back and forth motion with the wide edge of the blade. You should get an even sliver off the top. (It takes practice. If you have trouble, just do the bottom layer and leave the top layer as a dome. And if you have to use frosting to “glue” a chunk back, nobody will notice when you stack the cakes.

After slicing the tops, use your knife to loosen the cake at the edge of the pan. Turn it over onto a plate.

Frosting Tip

Allow your cake to cool completely before frosting – about one hour. If you try to frost your cake while still warm, it will fall apart everywhere, get crumbs in your frosting, and basically make a huge mess.

You can tell your cake is ready to frost by placing one hand on the cake and one hand on your countertop or table. If they are the same temperature, it’s ready to ice. If the cake is still warm, better wait!

 

 

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