I love making vegan cakes!
My vegan cake making journey started around six years ago and I didn’t always love making vegan cakes. Initially I found the process of vegan baking finicky and stressful, having to to find work arounds for those key baking ingredients with varying results. However I wanted to be able to make vegan and plant based cakes because I personally try to eat as few animal products as possible and if there is a healthy or more ethical alternative then I wanted to master the skills to produce them. I also had many enquiries from the Brighton vegan community so I had to knuckle down and practice.
Practice makes perfect
As I persevered I became familiar with the techniques and found some reliable key recipes to work from. This is when I found my love of vegan baking. I began to delight in getting the same, and sometimes better, results from vegan recipes as with non-vegan cakes. I even began serving vegan treats to non-vegan friends to see if they would be able to tell the difference. Many actually preferred the vegan option and were shocked to learn that it was 100% plant based.
Vegan buttercream woes
Once I had nailed the art of vegan baking, vegan cakes at least, I began to tackle the mammoth task of creating a vegan buttercream that rivalled its dairy counterpart. Because, although I mainly eat plant based food, I know the joy of a creamy rich all-butter Swiss meringue buttercream. And all the overly sweet or grainy vegan buttercreams I had tried just didn’t cut it. So what was the key to a silky smooth vegan buttercream that tastes as good as the real thing?
Chickpea juice – yes seriously!
Have you heard about aquafaba?
If you are a vegan, and especially a vegan baker, you will probably have heard about the magic bean juice that comes from a tin of chickpeas but if not I am going to let you in on this little secret… Aquafaba! The word aquafaba is from the Latin aqua (water) and faba (bean). You know the stuff you throw down the drain when you open a tin of chickpeas to make hummus? Well this bean juice is magic when it comes to vegan baking. The gelatinous liquid can replace egg whites in many different recipes and was the starting point for a luxurious, silky smooth vegan buttercream.
It started with meringue
It started with a vegan aquafaba based meringue whipped into stiff peaks then cooked out with super hot sugar. Just like a traditional Swiss meringue buttercream. But then came the next challenge, the fat!
Plant based Fats
Finding a vegan fat that was comparable to a dairy butter was a huge challenge and many a sub-standard vegan Swiss meringue buttercream was tried and tested before I finally found the king of vegan butters, the Organic Vegan Block by Naturli’. This beauty of a vegan butter tastes just as good as milk based butter. It is creamy, a little bit salty but most importantly for my purpose it sets like butter. Solid in the fridge but soft at room temperature. And it is organic.
So my plant based, vegan, Swiss meringue buttercream was born
I finally had a buttercream that I could use on all my vegan cakes. And it tastes just as good as traditional buttercream (some people even say it tastes better!). There are however, some considerations when making a fully vegan wedding cake or celebration cake that might be sitting out for a few hours before being served.
The work didn’t stop there. Although the Naturli’ Vegan Block is utterly delicious and full of amazing natural ingredients (and no soy!) it does contain 1% almond. It also has allergen warnings for hazelnut, cashew and pistachio so I had to develop another vegan buttercream recipe for my nut free friends.
I have now developed three different tried and tested, and just as delicious, buttercream recipes for all my clients and can use them in combination with my different cake recipes to create vegan cakes, vegan cakes that are gluten free, soy free, nut free and upon request we can go further and adapt out cakes to pretty much any allergen consideration.
Considerations for your vegan wedding cake
Although painstaking measures have been taken to create a beautiful vegan buttercream recipe that stands up to even the most discerning of taste tests it does not love the heat. So a fully vegan buttercream cake needs to be kept refrigerated until about an hour before serving, maybe even less on very hot Summer days.
Depending on the time of year and distance to the venue from central Brighton your vegan cake may need some special measures in place for transportation. Either a refrigerated vehicle or my makeshift cool cake box. This does mean that most vegan wedding cakes will require my professional delivery service.
One alternative to a stacked, tiered vegan wedding cake is a wedding dessert table. This can be a selection of my signature single tier Boucakes and other dessert items that can be served banquet style for that relaxed but opulent feel.
So although I love making vegan cakes and have enjoyed developing my buttercream recipes and vegan wedding cake designs, it does come with particular challenges. I do however delight in creating vegan cakes for my plant driven customers and can always advise on what I think might be best for your special day.