Malty Sponge Cake with Orange & Cacao Frosting
Oh I am SO happy & excited to bring this recipe to you. This morning I had a lovely coffee date with some friends at a little café called Noom in my hometown. It was so divine. We chatted for about 2 hours non-stop about all things ranging from life, travel, social media, personal lives and everything in between.
However, one thing that was being SORELY missed was a little something sweet with our almond milk coffees. I have become increasingly aware of the lack of vegan options in most cafes in my hometown – which is starting to change in bigger cities like Cape Town & Johannesburg. Even Port Elizabeth is slowly catching on to the plant based train. BUT, not fast enough, in my opinion. I am grateful however, that they offered Almond Milk as an alternative. This is a definite step in the right direction as opposed to a year or two ago when the concept of drinking milk made from almonds was as foreign as asking a camel to jump rope.
While we were there, I saw some ladies tucking into a delicious frosted cake. It looked so good, it made me salivate. I so badly wanted some with my cuppa. Alas, no such luck. But I suppose, on the brighter side it did prompt me to, once home, immediately get busy in the kitchen to create some delicious, light, spongey cake. Vegan, delicious & the right balance between sweet & malty.
Not to toot my own horn in any way, but I am SUPER chuffed with this magical creation. You would not believe me if I told you how many times I have tried to create a light, loving, deliciously spongey cake - without the use/reliance on oil (to make it light and moist) - and have FAILED miserably. This time was different though. This time, as I popped the batter into the baking pan and placed the pan into the fridge, I could feel it was different. This time, it was going to work. Thank goodness, my intuition did not fail me. After 30 minutes of the room becoming increasingly fragrant, I pulled the finished cake out of the oven. To my absolute joy, I could see the lightness. I could see that it was going to be good. I couldn’t even wait for the frosting to be made & done before tasting it. I, of course, immediately had to cut myself a slice and try it just to ensure that my excitement wasn’t misplaced.
Oh the sweet satisfaction of biting into this delightful, light, malty, sweet, moist, balanced and ever-so-slightly salty cake. Indescribable. You know that feeling when you are craving something and you find a way of satisfying that darn craving? Yup. That was me. Basking in the joy not only of having finally created a light sponge cake recipe that I am totally and utterly pleased and proud of but basking in the joy of eating with absolute abandon & joy.
It got me to thinking of my past relationship with food. Oftentimes being so complex, tumultuous and rocky. It got me basking in the immense gratitude & JOY of finally living with freedom from addiction, freedom from mental oppression and the confines of the mind. For me, if you do not know, this used to be manifest in a very severe eating disorder. But, through rigorous internal work, learning to surrender and give up the need (and misplaced desire) for control (which itself is a total myth, I believe) I have been relishing in the new found freedom that comes after realising that thoughts are not fixed realities or truths. Often times, they are simply arbitrary thought patterns that arise out of old conditioned ways of interpreting, experiencing, perceiving and coping with our daily life experiences. Thoughts are just movements or fluctuations of the mind that is thinking them. They have no gravity, no weight. They are not who we are. The only weight they have, is the weight and importance we give them by believing them. So, when we start to recognise the very deep essence of the nature of the mind we begin to learn to:
1) NOT take ourselves, or rather, our minds, so seriously.
2) Realize that these conditioned ways of being in and perceiving the world are normal and that rejecting or shunning them because of the fact that they bring a sense of discomfort or un-ease into our realities is not serving us. The wish for a more peaceful mental and internal space is a commendable aspiration and one that should be pursued through deep internal work of acceptance and compassion towards the self instead of rejecting the nature of the mind as being a content-creating entity. Instead, simply infuse the thoughts/content created by the mind with ever deeper awareness – awareness of their innate lightness, of their ephemeral nature and watch as freedom becomes more and more available to you in every moment.
3) Our thoughts are important guide posts in the direction of the internal energetic space we are in, in any given moment. If we are experiencing negative thoughts and emotions, instead of berating yourself, try to find the learning within them. Ask the thoughts where they come from, why they are appearing now, what they hope to achieve or change, and most importantly let them guide you in the direction of what action steps you need to take in order to understand them and work through them. For example, often if I experience a negative mental spin I start out by just trying to soften and approach the mental spin with compassion and understanding, then I begin to inquire and then I try to see what I can do or participate in that will begin the process of uncovering and de-conditioning that habitual pattern that made that thought or mental space arise in the first place. As Tara Brach says, as soon as we bring something above the line of awareness the gravitas it has over us lessens and we can begin to attend to the unmet needs that caused the thoughts to arrive in the first place.
We give our thoughts power. So, if we rather place that attention and power in simply resting awareness on the fluctuations of thoughts we begin to loosen the grip of their constructed power over our lives and we can begin to sense into the vast and immense array of possibilities that arise when we realize the freedom inherent in our minds. We have the ability to think so many different thoughts. Why are you choosing ones that don’t serve you? The mind is busy busy busy, and that is simply the nature of the mind. Don’t try to stop the thoughts – this will create more tension in the being. Simply, shed the light of awareness onto them. And watch as their weight lessens and a spaciousness arises.
Now to the delicious recipe herself. Yes, she is a she. Because she is dainty, light, delicious and oh-so alluring. Oh and did I mention that she is oil-free, gluten-free and (obviously) plant based!?
Ingredients for the cake:
· 1 cup buckwheat flour
· 1 cup oat flour OR whole jungle oats (or quick cooking oats) ground into a flour like consistency
· ½ cup gluten-free flour mix
· ½ cup of organic raw cane sugar
· 2 teaspoons of baking powder
· 1 teaspoon of Himalayan salt
· ½ teaspoon of baking soda
· 2/3 cup of unsweetened soy milk (or other plant based milk)
· 2 tablespoons of barley malt syrup (this gives it a delicious malty flavor but if you cannot find it or do not have it you can substitute honey/maple syrup or any other syrup of choice here)
· 2/3 cup of homemade apple sauce (or store bought: I just prefer homemade)
· 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
· 1 teaspoon of almond extract
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a medium sized cake tin with parchment paper (I oiled it with coconut oil and then cut out a ring of parchment to fit against the bottom).
2. In a big mixing bowl place all of your dry ingredients.
3. In another small bowl place the soy milk and apple cider vinegar, stir and let sit for a few moments until the milk curdles. Then add the apple sauce, almond extract and syrup of choice. Stir well.
4. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well. Move batter into cake tin and bake for 30 minutes. Or until a knife inserted into the center comes out relatively clean.
5. NOTE: To be honest, the cake is delicious as is. If you’re super lazy and not in the mood to make the frosting you can have it just like this or slathered with a nut butter of your choice for some extra decadence. HOWEVER, the frosting does add a delicious creaminess, a zingy flavor and a crunch. Continue down for the FROSTING RECIPE.
FOR THE FROSTING
· 1 block of silken tofu or semi-firm tofu
· ½ teaspoon of stevia liquid OR 1-2 tablespoons more of syrup to sweeten
· 1 packed teaspoon of finely grated orange zest
· 2 teaspoons of maca powder (which adds to the delicious malty flavor!)
· 1 tablespoon of cacao nibs
· Pinch of salt
1. Drain any excess liquid of the silken tofu place into your blender along with your sweetener, maca powder and salt. Blend until super smooth.
2. Now add in the cacao nibs & orange zest. Stir well. Place in a Tupperware in the fridge until you serve the cake so that it has time to get cool and thicken slightly.
3. NOTE: In my opinion, unless the whole cake is going to be eaten in one afternoon (as in the case of a tea party or something) don’t put the frosting all over the cake because if there is left over cake you’ll need to put the cake (with frosting on it) into the fridge so that the tofu does not go rancid. Tofu is a great low-fat, high protein alternative to the more high-fat frosting recipes. Be aware though that is is thinner and will go off if it stands outside for extended periods of time. So either frost as you eat, or if you do frost the whole cake place any leftovers of the cake into the fridge.
ENJOY IT & EAT WITH ABANDON, GRATITUDE & JOY.
Yours in health & love,