This cake was delicious and calls for seconds (thus the two pieces eaten by the both of us last night as
I thought this cake deserved two views!
Cake making is a pursuit of mine dating back to boxed versions I always threw together just to have a "snack" around. My sweet tooth cravings! For some reason, I recall the banana cake making many appearances. Then, yellow cake with chocolate frosting and third (hard to believe) was chocolate. I don't think my appreciation of the chocolate cake came to fruition until I was a good enough pastry cook to believe I could turn out an even better cake, making one from scratch. And, I believe this happened when watching a Martha Stewart episode where she baked the Hershey's chocolate cake from the back of their cocoa box--she claimed this was one of the best homemade chocolate cake recipes she'd come across. I'd have to agree with her on that.
For our household, my husband loves spice cake (along with the pumpkin cakes). I had the perfect recipe to try. Plus, I had so much fun making my homemade cannolis last week that I had a real craving for something else with vegan mascarpone cream frosting (another little addiction: I love frosting!). So, again I turned to my most favorite of pastry chefs, Gina DePalma and her cookbook, Dolce Italiano: Desserts from The Babbo Kitchen. Gina has had a tough go of it lately in that she has fought ovarian cancer (please read about The Cowgirl Cure Foundation on her website), gone through all of the treatments--is doing well from what I've read, and this year was nominated for the seventh time for the James Beard Award--finally winning! I really admire her for her courage as well as for having a knack for baking that is like no one else I've read.
I mentioned last week that my errands included a trip to the Italian district here in St. Louis to find the "special ingredients" I'd need for baking Italian pastries this holiday season--first order was to find chestnut flour. I love just about any nut (the same cannot be said of my husband). But if the nut appears in a disguise, I can get away with sneaking it into a baked goodie--plus I was dying to try this cake out. Chestnut flour has an earthy, nutty smell, and has a yellowish hue. It is fine ground and lends nice flavor this time of year to probably any recipe that has chocolate or spice. Besides converting this cake to vegan, I made several other modifications--adding agave nectar instead of honey. (Agave can be added as a 1:1 ratio when a recipe calls for honey--it affects the baking time, so be aware of this. It adds a nice moist crumb like honey does and also alleviates some of that glycemic index meltdown that tends to happen after consuming too much sugar.) I opted for Florida Crystals vs. pure white cane sugar, and I opted to omit her call for cognac or brandy and subbed a 1/2 teaspoon of imitation brandy--which worked beautifully.
Vegan Spiced Chestnut Cake with Mascarpone Cream Frosting
1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chestnut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 stick Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1 cup Florida Crystals
1/2 cup blue agave nectar
4 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 6 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon imitation brandy
1 cup soy milk
*vegan mascarpone frosting recipe is the same as the filling used for the cannolis made a few days ago on my blog--keeping out the chopped chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 9" springform pan with baking spray or butter, then flour, tapping out excess flour. First, always prep the Egg Replacer in a small bowl and set aside. Pour soy milk in a separate cup and set aside (you will add this to the mixture when you incorporate the flour mix into wet ingredients). There is nothing worse in vegan baking than forgetting Egg Replacer step and having to stop in the middle and get that together! Also, here is something to remember to check--make sure your springform pan is put together correctly! I think mine was upside down and not down all the way--which affected my baking time considerably, but did not harm the outcome of the cake one bit! Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl (seasons, too)--whisk to combine. Then, mix together the Earth Balance, sugar and agave nectar until creamy. I paid attention to this and kept the motor running for a good 3 minutes--it was beautiful and fluffy. Then, I carefully added the Egg Replacer 1/4 cup at at time to the butter mixture. Mixing well after each addition. Next add the vanilla extract and imitation brandy. Now, in three separate additions, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well after each addition--adding half of the milk between two of the additions. Now would be a good time to use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once the batter is all combined and mixed well (don't go crazy mixing this forever, you can tell when it is mixed well when the batter has a smooth texture). Now, pour batter into the pan and even the top out with a spatula. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until center of cake springs back when touched. Here is the caution--since we have subbed with the agave, this really changes the baking time. So check your cake a few times as you near the end--it might be a bit brown on the edges and it will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan--that is okay, but you need that middle to be baked through! Remove from pan, set on a trivet or someplace to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the springform sides and let cake cool completely. After it cooled, I simply removed the bottom of the pan and placed it gently on the cake keeper. Next make the vegan mascarpone frosting!