One of the great joys of writing Food Rocks is revisiting old recipes after a bit of a break. My Cherry Bakewell Cake being the perfect example – as Michael asked me to make one for a team meeting at work. I need next to no encouragement to bake, so of course I said yes. The only request he had was to make it slightly easier to cut into small portions. I guess not everybody wants a chunky wedge of cake as a mid-meeting snack. (Clearly they’re not from the Scott School of Snacking!!!).
I’m always one for a challenge and decided to have a go at a traybake “poke cake” version. Turns out that a Cherry Bakewell Poke Traybake is a winner. As you can see from the picture below it made 24 tasty portions. Perfect for a quick bite during a meeting, as well as being the ideal size for a second helping if the first didn’t quite hit the sides. As you may have gathered I poked 24 little holes into the cake and filled them with the cherry compote. This ensured that every serving came with a sweet cherry centre surprise, hidden under the icing and the glacé cherry on top. Perfect, eh?
Trouble is that the experimentation didn’t stop with the traybake version of this cake. Not wanting my colleagues to feel left out I thought it would be nice to make a Cherry Bakewell Cake for my office too. Only as I have quite a few Vegan colleagues I wondered whether it might work in an egg and dairy free version. I’m guessing that you’ve worked out from the picture at the top (and the name of this recipe) that it does indeed work as a vegan cake. It works very well indeed.
Making a cake dairy free isn’t really a challenge in my book… There are plenty of vegan alternatives to butter that work very well in baked goods. The biggest issue comes when you want to remove eggs from a recipe. There are lots of sites online that come with suggestions for what else to use.
Mashed Banana seems to be quite a popular suggestion, but it has such a distinctive flavour that I was worried it would wipe out everything else in the cake. Flaxseed and Chia seed also come up quite a bit – especially on specialist vegan sites. Both are pretty easy to find in larger supermarkets, but I wanted to avoid buying something I might only use once in an experiment. That left only one workable solution – at least as far as I was concerned: Apple Purée
It’s quite a common egg replacement in Vegan baking and in this recipe it worked an absolute treat. It’s also something that’s easy to make at home with ingredients you probably already have (see my Unsweetened Apple Purée recipe should you need one).
Apples make a lot of sense here as they don’t have a particularly strong flavour of their own. After all, look at a pack of fruit sweets and you’ll probably find that apple juice is a major ingredient. Even if none of them are apple flavoured. But what it lacks in flavour it sure makes up for in texture and moisture.
Finding the correct amount is probably a bit hit and miss in most recipes. Here it feels like I stumbled straight on the right figure. I weighed four eggs, as per the original recipe, and used the same weight of apple purée instead. Oh and a touch more baking powder to try and give a little bit of extra lift. Eggs are used in baking for leavening and structure after all. Though I can’t say that this cake is quite as light or strong as the original – so do take care when removing it from the cake pan as it will likely crack.
Once it’s cooled and been decorated you get to the best part of this cake. For what it may lack in height it makes up in pretty much every other regard. The texture is moist and crumbly, without being too dense, thanks to the apples and ground almonds. It tastes great too – with the sweet/sour cherry compote being a perfect foil to the sweet icing and glacé cherries on top.
Oh and it’s Vegan too. I did mention that, right?
Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake
for the Cake
- 225 g Vegan Baking Spread
- 225 g Golden Caster Sugar
- 250 g Unsweetened Apple Purée see notes
- 2 tsp Almond Extract
- 125 g Self-Raising Flour
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 100 g Ground Almonds
for the Filling
- 200 g Cherry Compote see notes
for the Topping
- 150 g Icing Sugar
- 3-4 tsp Cold Water
- Flaked Almonds to decorate
- Glace Cherries to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Line two square 23cm sandwich tins with greaseproof baking paper and put to one side for later.
- Put the baking spread and sugar into a large mixing bowl and cream together until the mixture has become lighter in colour and fluffy.
- Add in the apple purée, almond extract and 1 tsp of the baking powder, then beat again until everything is well combined.
- Sift the flour into a separate bowl and add the remaining baking powder, followed by the ground almonds. Mix to combine the dry ingredients before adding to the wet mixture in the other bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon but be careful to not overwork the flour.
- Divide the mixture between the prepared cake tins, spread it to the edges and level the top. Put into the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden and cooked through. The skewer test doesn't work so well with an egg-less batter, so you may need to use your judgement with these.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. I tend to let them cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning them out to cool completely.
- When you’re ready to assemble the cake start by placing one of the sponges upside down on your plate – i.e. you want the flat bottom of the pan side to be facing up. Spread the cherry jam or compote over what is now the top of the cake, making sure you go the whole way out to the edges. Place the other sponge on top, with the flatter side down to sandwich in the cherry filling.
- Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl and add in the water a tablespoon at a time, mixing well between each addition, until you have a smooth-yet-thick paste.
- Spread the icing over the top of the cake, again making sure it goes all the way to the edges, but don’t worry if a little trickles down the sides here and there. It’s nice when you can tell a cake is homemade.
- Finally decorate the top with halved glacé cherries and flaked almonds in the design of your choosing.
|Estimated Values per Serving|
|of which Saturates||5||g|
|of which Sugars||35||g|
|Note: Nutritional information shown is per serving of the above recipe. Any side dishes or garnishes shown in photos are not included in these values, unless they are specifically listed as part of the recipe.|