Friday, August 26, 2011

Vanilla Layer Cake

The time is approaching. The time when every day we will have to wear layers and slipper socks....and dare I say it...jackets. No more flip-flops, or tank tops, or summer skirts.  I have found myself over the past couple of weeks being cold. I don't like that. I've had to open my sweater drawer and put one on. I have started to drink hot tea, instead of iced. Fall is almost here. Almost....not quite yet. But it's coming. I can feel something, and it feels like Fall.

I can see it too, in my garden. My sunflowers have started to bloom and my winter squash are thriving. I have just been able to harvest a ripe Golden Hubbard squash. I'm not about to complain about that part of this time of year. In fact, I love that part, but I'm trying to change my way of thinking about the rest of it.

I live for summer. L I V E. I love it. I feel like I come alive during summer. I wait all year long for it to appear. When I was a kid I used to like spring, but only really because I had a cute rain jacket, I liked to wear rubber boots, and my birthday is in April. Those reasons don't do it for me anymore. Spring is just a stepping stone for Summer. Ah...Summer!

One of the large parts of Fall that I dislike is that "back to school" feeling. Even though I'm not going to school right now, I still get it. I'm starting to think that this feeling never goes away. Just the other day, my mother-in-law said she had that feeling. There has to be something we can do to change that! The weird thing is that I like school, but that feeling is something all unto itself.

Over the past couple of years, my sadness over the "Death of Summer" - as I like to call it - has escalated. I end up mourning the loss of summer before it's even gone. By doing this I end up waisting the end of my precious summer, and for what? I've decided feeling that way is not worth it, so I've been trying to train my mind to feel positive about Fall. I'm starting to think of this time of year as not the "Death of Summer", or even the "End of Summer" but as the "Beginning of Fall".

I know, it's so obvious and it sounds simple, but a change like this would be monumental to my way of thinking. I've been compiling a mental list of all of my favourite things about fall, and most of them revolve around food. I love fall produce, and as luck has it, can eat quite a lot of it! I'm starting to look forward to harvesting the rest of the fall veggies from my garden, like parsnips, squash, and Jerusalem artichokes (otherwise known as sunchokes). I also can't wait for the show my sunflowers will put on - a sneak peek has already begun!

I assure you that I will get to posting fall recipes, but for now I am going to avoid it at all cost and try to just enjoy what Summer has left to offer.

Summer is, in a large part, about entertaining. So, in celebration of the last precious days of August, I give you my Vanilla Layer Cake. I remember the day when I successfully created this recipe and what a day it was! Cake, was yet again, a part of my life!

This cake is delicious, and no, I am not going to be modest about that. This is a fight-for-the-last-slice kind of cake. An excuse-to-drink-another-cup-of-tea cake. A cake-is-a-legitimate-breakfast-food cake. It has a taste that is a bit different from a conventional vanilla cake, which is made with butter, eggs and wheat.The taste of this cake is a teensy bit reminiscent of cornbread, but in a more delicious, cakier way. I have heard people on TV talk about how chickpea flour tastes too much like chickpeas, and because of this you can only put it with strong flavours like an immense amount of chocolate. I disagree. If you have the correct balance of ingredients in your recipe, you will not be able to recognize the chickpea flavour. You may have noticed this if you tried the Chocolate Chip Pancake recipe I posted a few weeks ago.

This cake is one of my big crowd-pleasers. It will satisfy your guests no matter what their dietary restrictions are. There is always a "wow" factor attached to a layer-cake and it can be the perfect addition to a celebratory meal. Speaking of "wow" factors, you may be wondering why I have not included a photo of the complete cake. I made this cake the other day when we had guests, and had intended to take photos of it in its entirety. I was in a hurry to assemble it, and I ended up breaking the top layer of the cake. It looked terrible, but I was assured by everyone at the table that the taste made up what the cake lacked in appearance.

I suggest that you layer this cake with my Vegan Buttercream Icing. I also make this recipe into cupcakes. You can ice them, or serve them with berries as a sort of short-cake. I will post photos of an entire cake and cupcakes the next time I bake them. In the meantime, the photos of this slice will have to do. I hope you are able to take advantage of these last few days of Summer. Enjoy your cake!

Vanilla Layer Cake

Compared to a conventional cake, this cake is free of gluten, wheat, eggs and dairy, and also does not have baking powder that generally includes corn or potato starch. This cake is also vegan.

1 1/2 cups/375 mls sorghum flour
1 cup/250 mls chickpea flour or white bean flour
1 cup/250 mls tapioca starch
2 tsps baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup/250 mls sugar

2 cups/500 mls rice milk
2 tsps apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup/157 mls sunflower oil
4 tsps vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350˚F/176˚C.

If baking a cake, grease two 9''/23cm pans, line bottom and sides of pan with parchment, grease parchment.

If baking cupcakes, line cupcake pans with liners.

In a small bowl mix rice milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside. In a large bowl sift together dry ingredients. Add oil and vanilla to rice milk mixture. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk just until combined.

If baking a cake, divide batter into cake pans and bake at 350˚F/176˚C for about 34-38 minutes, or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool on racks in pans for about 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert onto a rack to cool completely.

If baking cupcakes, divide cupcake batter evenly into cupcake pans, you should have 24 cupcakes. Bake at 350˚F/176˚C for 18-22 minutes, or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool on racks for a few minutes in the pan, remove cupcakes and cool completely on rack.

Ice with Vegan Buttercream icing (recipe below) or icing of your choice.

Yield, a two-layer cake or 24 cupcakes.

Vegan Buttercream Icing

1 1/2 cups/375 mls vegan butter (I prefer Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Flavoured Spread)
5 cups organic icing sugar (I prefer Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Icing Sugar)
2 tsps vanilla extract
About 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Makes enough icing to ice a two-layer cake or 24 cupcakes.

In a medium bowl, cream vegan butter. Gradually work in sifted icing sugar. Add vanilla and salt. Spread over cake or cupcakes once they have completely cooled.


- Even though I suggest using a sieve you may notice a few small lumps in your batter. These should dissipate during baking. Do not over-work your batter, as it will make your cake/cupcakes fall during baking.

-When purchasing icing sugar, be careful to read the label and double-check for potential allergens. Conventional icing sugar generally contains cornstarch. I noticed on Wholesome Sweeteners website that their icing sugar (sometimes labelled "powdered sugar" instead) can include cornstarch or tapioca starch.


- If you are allergic to chickpeas, try using white bean flour in its place. I find that white bean flour gives a finer crumb, and is a closer taste/texture to wheat flour. Some people who are allergic to peanuts also have a legume allergy. If you suspect this, talk to your doctor before introducing. If you know you are allergic to legumes, or the other flours listed, try substituting your own favourite flour blend or ask me to try one for you.

- If you are allergic to sugar, or you are just avoiding it, substitute your sweetener of preference. I have used part sugar, part maple syrup before with decent results. Keep in mind that if your sweetener is in liquid form, you may want to reduce the rice milk in the recipe.

- You may substitute any other milk for the rice milk. You could also try replacing the milk/vinegar combination for plain yogourt.

- If you are allergic to apples or apple cider vinegar, you may substitute the apple cider vinegar for a vinegar of your choice. You may also substitute the vinegar for lemon juice.

- I use sunflower oil in this recipe, but feel free to substitute your oil of preference.


  1. I love this cake! I put myself into the "uncomfortable full" just to have another piece!

  2. Sorry to make you uncomfortable, Erin, but glad to serve you something so delicious :)

  3. Just a note - I noticed that I originally posted to put 3 tsps of vanilla extract in the cake recipe but this is incorrect. I have since corrected it to 4 tsps.

  4. I should not have looked at the blog tonight because now I am going to bed craving THIS CAKE!

  5. Leah, that keeps happening to me too! Every time I make a post I crave that food for a day or two. If you make it let me know how it goes.