Over the past few years I've made several vegan cakes for my sister-in-law with varying degrees of success. The first cake I attempted was a vegan vanilla sponge. It came out of the oven golden and gloriously risen and it stayed that way for almost 10 seconds before deflating in the blink of an eye. I tried to compensate by being generous with the icing and my in-laws said it was, "Nice, if a little sweet". I thought it was revolting. Then someone brought a vegan chocolate cola cake into the office and it was really good. I pestered the baker for the recipe and when I finally made it I used Vitalite. I've always disliked the taste of margarine and, to me, Vitalite has a strong, plasticy taste. It was all I could smell while the cake was baking. The finished cake tasted overwhelmingly of margarine and I hated it. Then I came across a vegan chocolate passionfruit cake recipe by Meera Sodha. I felt sure that this would be The One as I love Meera and use her recipes all the time but, as others have commented, I couldn't taste the passionfruit and found the cake to be dense and floury.
This time I've gone back to the chocolate cola cake (a James Martin recipe) and used Pure dairy free sunflower margarine, which has a completely neutral taste. To make a vegan version of this cake:
- Replace the butter with the same amount of vegan margarine
- Replace the milk with a vegan milk, e.g. oat or soy
- Increase the cola to 10oz (285ml) instead of using eggs. The soda makes the cake fluffy and moist. Try not to over-mix so the batter keeps the bubbles.
When I added the wet cake ingredients to the dry I did it too quickly and my batter was lumpy so I passed it through a sieve before pouring it into the cake tin. By doing this I lost some of the cola bubbles but this seemed better than giving someone a cake full of flour lumps. I’ll try to combine the ingredients more slowly next time to avoid needing to use a sieve.
You can see in the picture that the cake is a little fragile and the icing cracks as soon as the cake is released from its tin. Regardless, as long as it’s handled gently, it holds together and is an incredibly moist and rich cake. It almost has the texture of a sponge pudding. I must confess, my favourite cakes are still ones that contain eggs but out of all the vegan cakes I’ve made I’m happy with this. I top it with strawberries as that’s what the baker of the original cake did and it works really well.
- 250g self-raising flour
- 300g golden caster sugar
- 3 heaped tbsp cocoa powder (approximately 30g)
- generous pinch bicarbonate of soda
- 250g margarine (I used Pure sunflower margarine)
- 285ml cola
- 125ml milk (I used oat milk)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100g margarine (I used Pure sunflower margarine)
- 2 tbsp cola
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 200g icing sugar
- 4 fresh strawberries, halved (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and line and grease a 23cm springform cake tin.
- Sift 250g of self-raising flour, 300g of caster sugar, 3 heaped tablespoons of cocoa powder and a generous pinch of bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.
- Melt 250g of margarine and 285ml of cola gently in a pan then add to the dry ingredients slowly along with 125ml milk. Mix gently to combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for around 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly.
- Once the cake is done, remove it from the oven, leave it in its tin and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
- While the cake is cooling, prepare the icing by gently melting 100g of margarine, 2 tablespoons of cola and 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder in a pan.
- Pour the mixture into a bowl containing 200g of sifted icing sugar and whisk until smooth then pour over the cake while still warm.
- Top with strawberries (optional) and allow to cool fully before releasing the cake from its tin.