Spiced Zucchini Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

spiced zucchini layer cake

spiced zucchini layer cake

When zucchini is in abundance, you make cake. Armed with several zucchini, I scoured recipes for breads, muffins, and cakes to make use of my squash. After discovering this spice cake recipe, I decided I needed to go bigger because I had quite a few of the vegetable. This then prodded me to make a layer cake, although I had not made one in a while. Of course, I could have been easier on myself and made two simple cake pan cakes slathered in frosting, but I do like a challenge. My apologies for the messy cake as my layering skills are rusty.

I found a vegan recipe, so the next step was to do the math to make it fit two 8” round pans. Thankfully, I discovered a chart of pan volumes at Joy Of Baking. After that I made some high altitude adjustments, such as reducing baking soda and adding more liquid. I also made a few changes to the instructions by thoroughly squeezing the zucchini (to avoid a soggy cake), sifting the dry ingredients separately (to blend the spices in), and modifying the frosting (for a less sweet vanilla-infused boost). It ended up being a serious baking production, but the resulting cake had a wonderful texture and even better flavor. I’m glad I wasn’t feeling lazy.

Spiced Zucchini Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from the pretty bee and Handle the Heat

for the cake
1.5 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup canola oil
4.5 TBS unsweetened applesauce
1.25 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup + 2 TBS unsweetened non-dairy milk
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
pinch ground nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup coconut sugar

for the frosting
8 ounces vegan cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick vegan margarine, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla paste
3 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted

The cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two 8” round pans by greasing the pans, then lining the pans with parchment circles, and then greasing the parchment circles. Flour both greased pans. (The effort is worth it — see picture below.)

Lay zucchini on paper towels to absorb some of the moisture, then wring it out in a clean tea towel. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine oil, applesauce, vinegar, milk, and vanilla. Stir well and set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Add both sugars and stir to combine. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. Fold in zucchini.

gorgeous spiced zucchini cake layer

gorgeous spiced zucchini cake layer

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cake cool completely, then level the layers. Set aside.

The frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, margarine, and vanilla on medium-high speed until creamy, and smooth. On low speed, gradually add in sugar and beat until fluffy. Apply between cake layers and around the outside. Leftover cake can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Until next time, happy baking!

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Carrot Cupcakes for Easter or Earth Day

Carrot Cupcakes for Easter or Earth Day

Carrot Cupcakes for Easter or Earth Day

Are you wondering if you stumbled on a gardening blog? Well, you haven’t, but I couldn’t resist tying my cupcakes in with Earth Day by potting them. I slipped them into little terra cotta pots and stuck carrot greens into the little cakes. It makes a wonderful presentation for both Easter and Earth Day, both of which are happening now. To serve them, just take them out of the pots, remove the greenery, and slather with frosting. Now, on to the recipe so we can get to eating these cute and tasty cakes.

Before I share the cupcake directions, I need to let you in on some of the changes that occurred before they could take shape. The original vegan recipe was for a cake, so I chose to go with regular whole wheat flour instead of whole wheat pastry flour. Pastry flour will give the delicate crumb you look for in a cake, but I wanted more hand-held sturdiness for cupcakes. I also scaled back on both the baking soda and baking powder because the smaller size didn’t need that much oomph, especially in high altitude baking.

Normally I add moisture at high altitude, but this cake had loads more moisture than the other carrot cake recipes that I found. I knew that it would be great at high altitude, which is what led me to base my cupcake creations on the original recipe. Also, many recipes used carrot juice, which can be a difficult to obtain, but this one used orange juice which is readily available. And, I’m not one who likes raisins in her carrot cake so instead I used raw walnuts and lightly toasted them to bring out their nutty flavor. The combination was a winner. My taster and I polished off three cupcakes before I even had a chance to make the frosting!

Carrot Cupcakes for Easter or Earth Day inspired by 24 Karrot Cake

1/2 cup raw walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1.25 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup vanilla soymilk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 TBS orange juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups peeled, shredded carrots, loosely packed (optional: save carrot greens for decoration)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Lightly oil the top of a 12-muffin tin, then line with paper cups. Set aside. Spread the walnuts on a small baking sheet. When the oven is ready, lightly toast the walnuts until they become fragrant.

Meanwhile, sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, maple syrup, soymilk, apple cider vinegar, orange juice, and vanilla until well blended. Pour wet mixture into the dry and stir with a whisk until the batter is smooth. Stir grated carrots into the batter with a rubber spatula.

carrots with their decorative greenery

carrots with their decorative greenery

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Gently run a thin knife between the cupcake tops and the pan. Remove cupcakes and cool completely. When cooled, drizzle with the frosting below.

Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking

8 oz vegan cream cheese, cold
2 tsp vanilla extract
1.25 cups powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Keep chilled.

Until next time, happy baking!

In-The-Black Bottom Cupcakes

Black Bottom Cupcake

Black Bottom Cupcake

Today is the day that American income taxes are due. For those of us who have been struggling with numbers all weekend, I decided that a very indulgent treat was in order. Enter: In-The-Black Bottom Cupcakes.

The recipe I found was already vegan, thanks to master baker Fran Costigan. The changes I made were for high altitude. I reduced baking soda for altitude and added non-dairy milk for dryness. Then I reduced the oil because high altitude baked goods can get oily and the filling could make it heavy enough. These decadent cupcakes are just what my brain and tummy needed.

In-The-Black Bottom Cupcakes adapted from Black Bottom Cupcakes
Filling
1 1/2 tsp ground Navitas Chia Seeds
1 1/2 TBS water
8 oz nondairy cream cheese spread, straight from the refrigerator
9 TBS organic confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 oz chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
Cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup organic granulated sugar
1/4 cup organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered
1/4 cup + 1 TBS Navitas Cacao Powder
scant 1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup + 1 TBS almond milk
5 TBS canola oil
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix chia and water and set aside for a couple of minutes. Mix with a fork until thoroughly combined. Repeat twice, 5 minutes apart. In a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add chia gel and mix on medium for another 30 seconds until incorporated. Stir chocolate chips into the filling. Refrigerate in a covered container while you make the cupcakes. Position a rack on rung just above the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. Lightly oil the top only of a 12-cup cupcake tin and line with paper liners.
Put a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add all-purpose flour, pastry flour, granulated sugar, cane sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt to the strainer. Stir with a whisk to sift ingredients into the bowl and whisk to aerate. (If very small bits remain in the strainer, add them to mixture in bowl.) In a small bowl, mix almond milk, oil, vinegar, and vanilla until thoroughly mixed. Immediately pour into dry ingredients. Whisk hard until batter is smooth.
Fill cups just over half full with batter. Scoop 2 tablespoons of filling into center of each cupcake. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, or until edges are firm when lightly tapped and filling is set. Set tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes. The filling will collapse into cakes while they cool. Remove cupcakes from tin, and cool completely on a wire rack before serving. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.

Until next time, happy baking!

Vegan No Bake Mini Blackberry Cheesecakes

no bake mini cheesecakes

no bake mini cheesecakes

The motivation for this post was the August Baking Challenge by Tessa of Handle the Heat. Tessa presented a recipe for bakers to make and share. It wasn’t vegan but that was simple enough to change. And, because there was no baking involved, high altitude adjustments were not necessary.

The vegan substitutions I made were to use vegan margarine in place of unsalted butter, vegan cream cheese for the cream cheese, and soy creamer instead of heavy cream. Another alteration I made was to put the cheesecakes in jars. Vegan dairy substitutes are often runnier than their dairy counterparts and make goopy cheesecake. I created a few in small mason jars where all they would require the eater to have was a spoon. The rest ended up in shot glasses for a fun party treat.

Vegan No Bake Mini Blackberry Cheesecakes adapted from Handle the Heat
For the crust:
1 sleeve (9 crackers) graham crackers (gluten-free, if desired)
4 TBS vegan margarine, melted
For the cheesecake:
12 ounces vegan cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegan sugar
3/4 cup soy creamer
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup seedless blackberry preserves
For the topping:
1 cup blackberries
1 TBS vegan sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
Blackberries, for garnish
For the crust: Place graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add in melted margarine and pulse until moistened. Divide mixture among jars or glasses. Firmly press into the bottom of each cavity.
For the cheesecake: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until creamy and well combined. Add in creamer, lemon juice, and preserves and continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes, until well combined and thickened. Pour mixture over crusts and cover with plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.
For the topping: Combine berries, sugar, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until pureed. Top each cheesecake with a dollop of sauce. Garnish with whole fresh blackberries.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Strawberry Tea Bread

Strawberry Tea Bread

Strawberry Tea Bread

Just in time for Sunday brunch – I needed bread that would go great alongside eggs and mimosas. Strawberries are available everywhere so they were my first choice to flavor a bread. A short search of my files revealed a recipe for a vegan quick bread that incorporated these lovely berries.

For altitude I reduced sugar and baking soda. I added milk, although there was none, to help with dryness at altitude.To make it a little healthier, I took out some regular flour and put in whole wheat. The last change was substituting ginger for cinnamon, but that was merely to please my own taste buds. Add vegan cream cheese and fresh strawberries to a slice, and you’re set.

Strawberry Tea Bread adapted from Strawberry Quick Bread
1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cups canola oil
1 TBS arrowroot powder
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 TBS unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 1/2 cups mashed strawberries with their juice
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp powdered ginger
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 3 cavities of a mini loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix sugar and oil. In a small bowl, combine arrowroot and applesauce, then add to large bowl and stir. Stir milk and strawberries with juice into sugar mixture. Add baking soda, baking powder, and lemon juice, and whisk to combine evenly, without lumps. Stir in vanilla and ginger. One cup at a time, add flours and stir to incorporate into a smooth batter.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 30-33 minutes until tops turns golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and run a knife around the edges of each loaf. Allow loaves to cool for at least 10 minutes before turning them out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Until next time, happy baking!