This is the only photo that still exists of this marvellous chocolate cake. My computer is dying... slowly but very surely. The other day, in an effort to salvage the little capacity that I have left, I deleted a couple of old albums. Since I apparently bake better than I do technology, I ended up deleting EVERYTHING. This is sad... because I lost a lot of amazing photos (Cairo, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, wine trips to Beaune... the list goes on), including all of my baking photos. I was going to put off publishing this recipe until I could make it again, but as I'm going to ***BRAZIL*** this evening, I thought I needed to share this with you in case you needed chocolate cake in the next two weeks. (WE ALL NEED CHOCOLATE CAKE IN OUR LIVES!)
On the topic of things fading out: I think we are finally saying au revoir to summer in Paris. The monsoons have started. Although today is fairly sunny, the weather is turning quickly. I don't know if I mind too much... my Canadian body has had heat rashes for the last few months (sexy, I know), so some relief from the heat will be good.
That being said, there are some things that I'm going to miss dearly about summer. In particular, I'm going to miss Provence trips that I'm allowed to sneak in a couple of times during the summer months. I'm super lucky because my significant other is from the south of France. He takes me to all of these cool waterfalls, rivers, and beaches for day trips. On the way home to Aix, we normally stop off at a wine co-op and buy a couple of bottles of rosé for the night/next day. I really, really love these days. Or, just walking around Aix is always a pleasure. On our last trip the market, before returning to Paris, I picked up some lavender sachets. I asked the guy if I could cook with them, and he assured me that they were organic and perfectly safe to eat.
I've been noshing on lavender ice cream often this summer. It's my new favourite flavour. I want to put lavender in everything now. The first test was this cake. I infused the lavender into hot coffee before adding it into the cake. You could certainly do this in boiling water if coffee isn't your thing. I decided to make this style of cake after an email exchange about how to turn this idea into chocolate. I think it's safe to say that this cake is suited to the task!
Vegan Chocolate & Lavender Cake - what you need:
- 1 cup freshly brewed coffee
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender (if you don't have lavender hanging around, try something else interesting... thyme? rosemary?, rose? ... or just omit it for a plain chocolate cake.)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup golden cane sugar (if you're using granulated, I recommend 3/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon flax meal
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used olive)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Vegan Chocolate & Lavender Cake - what you do:
Prepare a "baker's half sheet" (13 x 18 x 1 in), or another large baking sheet. My baking sheet is 15 x 11 x 1 in (38 x 28 x 2 cm). Grease the pan with (vegan) butter, layer it with parchment paper, and then grease and flour the parchment paper. This is a bit over-the-top, but it prevents any sticking.
(PS: if you just want a normal cake, this recipe makes 1 9-inch cake layer, just bake it for 28-30 minutes at 160C.)
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees celsius (325 F).
Brew your coffee and pour it over the lavender in a glass jar. Close the lid so the coffee stays hot. Allow the lavender to infuse into the coffee.
In a large bowl, sift together the cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt. (I just used a food processor, but you want the mixture to be soft and free of any lumps.)
Stir in the sugar and flax meal.
Strain the coffee, such that you don't add the lavender into the cake, and pour this into the flour/sugar mixture. (I suppose you can add the lavender, just expect a more powerful flavour and different texture.) Add the oil and apple cider vinegar. Beat everything together well.
Pour this into the prepared sheet pan. You will have a very thin layer of cake.
Bake at 160 C for 15-16 minutes, rotating the pan half-way through.
Remove from the oven at allow to cool in the pan on a cooling rack.
Once the pan is cool to the touch, refrigerate for 2-3 hours to make the cake more sturdy to work with.
Flip the cake out onto a clean surface. Cut the cake in half, then cut the halves in half so that you have four equal rectangles.
Place one of the rectangles on a serving platter. Coat with a layer of the frosting. Add another piece of cake, and repeat with the frosting... repeat. For the final piece of cake, flip the piece over, so the bottom is facing the top of the entire cake. This will leave a very flat and smooth surface on the top of the cake.
Frost a "crumb layer" around the entire cake. This means lightly frost the cake to create a smooth surface for the final frosting layer. After you make the crumb layer, chill the cake in the fridge for 15 minutes.
After the cake has chilled and the frosting has hardened slightly, frost a final layer to make a smooth cake.
Please don't let the lack of photos deter you from trying out this cake. It's a huge winner, and my current go-to chocolate cake recipe. Plus, the ingredients are fairly simple and you can also bake this in a 23 cm / 9 in cake pan (for 28-30 mins) for a more straightforward single-layer cake.
I'll catch all of you post-Brazil !
Baking soundtrack - tunes to inspire your inner baker: