A few weeks back I made this cake for a friend’s birthday – what fun! I love making cakes, but I don’t do get many opportunities since – well, who’s going to eat them?! This is a slightly tweaked version of an amazing cake recipe that I came across many years ago in The Vegan Sourcebook by Joanne Stepaniak. I have been making it ever since, always with good results. It’s delicious, not heavy or overly sweet, and has a LUSCIOUS colour because of the beets (which you can’t taste). It doubles well (which is what I did for the cake below, to make it 2-tiered). This time I paired the cake with a chocolate coconut icing that I learned how to make during my Plant-Based Chef Training at the School of Natural Cookery, and it was the perfect match!
PLANNING NOTE: You need to make the icing the DAY BEFORE the cake as it needs to sit in the fridge overnight to completely cool.
For the Red Devil Cake:
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp double-acting non-aluminum baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp (ground) flaxseeds* (OR you can use unground chia seeds)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cup cooked, diced beets
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup canola/coconut oil
- 2 tsp apple-cider vinegar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
*Note, you MUST grind the flaxseeds if you are using them, but don’t buy ground flaxseeds as they go rancid quickly – buy them in seed form and grind what you need as you go.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8-inch cake pan (or 2 if you’re doubling the recipe for a layer cake, as pictured above).
- Place flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk together well.
- Place the flaxseeds in a coffee or spice grinder and grind to a find powder. Add them (or the whole chia seeds) to the 1/3 cup water in a blender and blend until the mixture is gummy and egg-like. Now add the cooked beets, water, oil, vinegar and vanilla and process until frothy and well blended (1-2 minutes).
- Pour liquid into the flour mixture and mix until everything is evenly moistened.
- Quickly spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Cool completely before icing.
To make a double-layered cherry chocolate version, as pictured above:
Double the recipe above so you end up with 2 round cakes.
6. When the cakes are cool, place one layer of organic cherries (or other jam) on top of cake 1 and place cake two on top of that (if you need to trim the sides to make the cakes lay flat do that first, and then brush the trimmed spots so you don’t get crumbs in your icing). Reserve some of the cherries for the top of the cake.
For the Chocolate Coconut Icing:
(this recipe makes enough to ice the double cake above, so if you are making a single you can half the recipe. If you make too much cashew cream, you can freeze it.)
Part 1: cashew cream
- 1/2 cup cashews – soaked 2-4 hours
- 1 cup water
- pinch of salt
- pinch of sugar
- drizzle of vanilla
7. Blend water and soaked cashews in a blender until perfectly smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and heat over medium-high until the mixture thickens and you can see a ribbon, almost like a meringue, when you drag a spoon through it (make sure you watch this part carefully, and stir frequently because it’s easy to burn if you don’t).
8. When it is thick, add a pinch of salt, then sugar, then vanilla, tasting as you go. The idea is to make the flavour as neutral as possible.
Part 2: the icing
- 1 cup cashew cream
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 1 cup good quality maple syrup
- 1 part cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp vegetable lecithin
9. Mix everything together very well, until smooth. Then refrigerate overnight, covered, to cool completely. When you are ready to ice your cake, stir it up again and you’re good to go! Note that this recipe is somewhat sensitive to heat so make sure your cake is completely cool when icing.
10. If you are putting cherries/jam on top, as picture above, don’t ice the part where the cherries go. Ice first, leaving a spot for the cherries, then put them on top. If you want, sprinkled grated chocolate around the top of the cake as I did to get an extra special look.