I am sure all of your wonderful bakers can make a decent vegan or raw cake. But let me tell you from my years of experience, there are still big differences when it comes to taste, consistency and colour. I am not saying I am a pro (seriously I am not, it’s all just experiments) but with many years of baking successes and epic fails there are some ingredients that really make a difference when it comes to taste. And you might even use some of those ingredients already but for those who are new in the vegan/raw baking game this could really make your creations stand out. So these are the ingredients I use to make my cakes super delish:
- Real ground vanilla – when I started baking I always used store-bought vanilla essence but at some point I opted for real ground vanilla which is basically what you will get when scraping out a vanilla pod. And wow, was I amazed what beautiful vanilla punch this added to my raw cakes. Trust me on this, real ground vanilla is the real deal. It is so worth it. I know is not on the cheap side of things but you only need very little of it, it tastes amazing and you know exactly what you are putting into your body ( which is real food and not a reconstituted essence).
- Freeze dried plant/fruit powders – these are my secret weapons. I use them to either add colour or taste to my cake creations. I love to work with dragonfruit, blueberry, raspberry and mango powders. But also matcha, wheatgrass powder are really great ingredients to add some extra nutrition and colour to desserts and cakes. All of those powders are amazing natural food coloring agents and make your cake taste like paradise. It’s incredible how creative you will become when these colour helpers are around. They are usually quite pricey (again!) but you will only need a teaspoon most of the time. I also use the freeze dried powders in homemade chocolates, creamy desserts and ice cream!
- Edible flowers/petals and rosebuds, lavendar or herbs – these are the best natural, edible, fun cake decorations on the market. Make sure they are organic and are free of pesticides. Ground lavendar gives a great flavour to cakes and also biscuits. Ground mint is perfect for ice creams and sorbets! If you are interested in how to decorate your healthy cake there will be a dedicated blog post just for that.
- Raw Chocolate – Again using good chocolate really makes a difference here. I would always recommend using raw chocolate instead of normal chocolate as it still contains a very high level of antioxidants. Super important: when you melt the raw chocolate, do so in a heat proof bowl at 40 degrees celsius (and not more than that) to make sure you don’t destroy those antioxidants in your raw chocolate. If in doubt you can always make your own chocolate by mixing melted cocoa butter, sweetener, cacao powder, salt and vanilla.
- Creamed coconut (also known as coconut cream concentrate) – this is neither coconut milk nor coconut oil. It is the unsweetened dehydrated fresh meat of a mature coconut, ground to a semi-solid white creamy paste. It is sold in the form of a hard white block which can be stored at room temperature. It usually requires a bit of melting before using it for cakes. You will find that this is a wonderful ingredient for cakes: it adds flavour, you can use it as a butter replacer, use it in chocolate making, and to give your raw cake or bars a firm consistency so they keep their shape when cutting. Creamed coconut is heat sensitive meaning that once you melt it and add it to your cake/frosting and transfer it to the fridge it firms up nicely. And this is what makes it so perfect for raw cakes.
- Butter Beans/chickpeas: You willl always find cans of butter beans and chickpeas in my pantry. Butter beans is what I use to make my vegan bean buttercream. It’s true, you can make fluffy thick ‘buttercream’ from beans – check out the recipe here. And no it does not taste like beans at all! So if you feel like your vegan cake, cupcake, slice or bar still needs an extra creamy layer or topping grab a can of butter beans and my recipe. Chickpeas are also perfect to add moistness to glutenfree cakes/blondes and cookie dough bars. If you want to give that a try check out my Cookie Dough Bars stuffed with PB Cups.
- Salt: What salt, really? Yes! And I am not talking about huge amounts of salt but depending on the cake up to 1/2 teaspoon will balance out the sweet flavours. In baked cakes you usually add a pinch of salt, same goes for a raw version. It’s like adding coffee to a chocolate cake, you won’t really taste it but it brings out the flavours and makes it extra chocolat-ey!
- Buckwheat groats (raw): I am saying raw here because there is no need to cook the buckwheat at all when adding it to your raw cake. Makes things even more easy, right? If I want to add crispyness to my cakes or slices this is what I use! By adding it to raw slices or cakes it gives you an incredible crunch and a nutty aftertaste. It is great for adding it to raw chocolates, slices, biscuits, and homemade chocolate bars that need some extra crunch. Adding raw buckwheat only works for raw cakes though. The groats might get soggy when mixed with too much liquid and baked for an hour. If you would like to start experimenting a little start with my Salted Caramel Crispy Slice which is still such a winner for me!