A festive sponge cake for a festive mood, here’s today’s recipe at a glance. Don’t you think candied ginger looks like gold nuggets? I love it. So spicy and delicious, and also perfect during Christmas festivities!
Have you decided what dessert to bring to your holiday table already? I know we’re gonna have panettone, but I wouldn’t mind a slice of this delicious layer cake either.
Now let me break this down. Few things are harder than veganising a sponge cake. Traditional recipes are basically eggs and white sugar, which give the sponge cake its glorious, fluffy texture. Maybe only baking vegan merengue is worst than that. But I’ll save that story for another time.
But! Apparently the vegan baking gods were smiling at me last week, and my vegan sponge cake turned out pretty decent. Everything that came out of my oven the following days was a total failure, but that’s another (sad) story. I’m looking at you paleo gingerbread cookies and festive mini cakes.
Side note, I might’ve discovered the secret behind vegan cannelés trying to develop said mini cakes. They turned out super spongy and fluffy, with a harder, outer crust and a creamy interior. I’ll experiment a bit more to see if I can get them down right before Christmas.
Back on our vegan sponge cake, it’s a chocolate one of course. Vanilla cakes are quite possibly even harder to make vegan, because you’d expect the richer flavor that comes with heaps of butter and eggs, whereas with chocolate you don’t miss it that much. Because chocolate you know?
Should I call myself a chocaholic? I’d only bake with chocolate. Here on the blog I have an über chocolaty layer cake with orange curd, as well as a vegan + GF chocolate tart with chocolate custard, and now we’re talking chocolate sponge cake.
I decided to pair the chocolate sponge with a healthy-ish pear frosting, because pear and chocolate? Absolutely delectable.
Now that was another challenge in terms of recipe developing. How to make a frosting that was thick enough to hold layers of cake and stay in place when the whole thing was finished, without resorting to the usual butter + sugar combo?
After an extended googling action, I settled on a cashew based frosting. Those little smiling nuts are basically a jolly in a vegan kitchen. There’s nothing you can’t do with them. From milk to custard, cheese and such, they really can be turned into anything you wish.
I’d say the frosting with candied bits of ginger are the best part of this recipe. I won’t blame you if you eat it with a spoon by the way.
With this sponge cake I finally fulfilled my dream of baking a chocolate cake with a white frosting. There’s something in the contrast between the two that really makes me all jiggly.
Now let’s dive right in, and happy holidays!
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The perfectly festive, spicy (and healthy-ish!) cake for your holiday table: vegan sponge cake, pear + ginger frosting, candied ginger. What’s not to love?
- 120 g all-purpose flour
- 30 g cornstarch
- 25 g cocoa powder
- 100 g raw sugar
- 150 g aquafaba (chickpea brine)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 50 ml neutral-tasting vegetable oil
- 10 g baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 120 g cashew nuts
- 1 ripe but firm pear
- 40 g powdered sugar
- 1 tps dry ginger
- 40 g coconut oil, solid
- 100 g thick plant yogurt (I used greek-style soy yogurt)
- 1/2 tsp guar gum
- 100 g candied ginger
In a small mixing bowl sift flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 170 C. Grease and line with parchment paper one tall 18cm cake pan, or two 18cm pans.
Add cold aquafaba and lemon juice to a big mixing bowl and whisk with an electric hand whisk until the mixture starts to look fluffier and paler, about 5′. At this point gradually add sugar, whisking continuously until you get stiff peaks, about 10′. If you have a stand mixer, feel free to use it.
Pour oil on one side of the bowl, and whisk a few seconds more to combine.
Now slowly and very carefully incorporate the dry ingredients into the whipped aquafaba using a spatula. Perform gentle moves to prevent deflation.
Pour the cake batter into prepared tin(s) and bake on the middle rack for 45-50′, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. For smaller cakes, check for doneness at 30-35′.
Once baked, let cool in the slightly opened oven and remove from the pans to cool completely.
Soak cashews in nearly-boiling water for a few hours until plump. Drain the nuts and add them to a blender along with cubed pear, powdered sugar, coconut oil, plant yogurt, guar gum and ginger powder. Blend on high until smooth and creamy.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before frosting the cake.
Slice the cake into three disks. If you used two 16cm pans, slice each cake in half.
Pipe about 1/4 of the frosting on the first disk, then sprinkle some candied ginger on top of the frosting layer. Cover the first layer with another cake disk and proceed frosting the cake until you frost all the cake layers. For smaller cakes, pipe the frosting accordingly.
Spread the remaining frosting on top of the cake and frost the sides, too. Decorate with candied ginger and refrigerate at least 30′ to set.
This cake is very rich, so a small portion goes a long way.
Lemon juice will help stabilising the whipped aquafaba and also will make it lighter in color. Alternatively you could use 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar.
This cake is best consumed on the same day. If you have any leftover, please store it in the fridge, and consume within two days. Please note that texture may suffer from sitting in the fridge.