Monday, March 15, 2010

Orange Black Sesame "Vegan" Cake

Ok, so I really apologize on this one... I meant to get this posted 2 weeks ago when I originally made this tasty treat, but since I was making it for a friend who was graduating, I completely forgot to take pictures at home before brining it in to work. I planned to remake it, but then decided that tearing apart most of my kitchen because I was tired of the dark brown cabinets was a better idea. So, you'll have to unfortunately accept the lower quality pictures that I took with my phone as people were grabbing pieces of cake.

Now that that's done, lets get on with it shall we? Now, firstly, don't let the term "vegan" in the title throw you off. This cake is delicious. I originally found out about this method from the LA Times which did a post on "Crazy Cakes". According to the article (here), these are cakes that came about during WWII when eggs and butter became rationed and home cooks needed to improvise. Also, because they're made without eggs or butter they remain parve and thus be consumed after a meat meal in line with kosher dietary restrictions. So, because the cake is leavened using baking soda/powder and vinegar/lemon juice, it still rises to be nice and airy, although admittedly chewier than a traditional cake. Another reason for that chewiness is the use of part all purpose and part bread flour. The bread flour helps add protein to form gluten which better traps the carbon dioxide that makes the cake rise. Normally, this role is taken by the butter and eggs being creamed with the sugar, but we have neither of those here.

The other great secret about this cake is that it's ridiculously easy to prepare. It requires about 5 minutes of prep time total (maybe 10 if you want to really take your time with it). Everything gets mixed in the same dish you bake it in, so clean up is a breeze too. Overall, I can't find any fault with this cake, except that it's perhaps too convenient and thus may not help out you or your co-workers waistlines when you keep bringing one in.

Orange Black Sesame Crazy Cake
2 cups AP flour
1 cup bread flour
2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
zest of 1 orange
1.5 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 cup hot water
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all dry ingredients including orange zest in a 9x9 in. glass baking dish. Sift together with a fork or whisk to distribute well. Form 3 depressions, one big and two small. Pour the vinegar into one small depression, the orange juice into the other, and the oils into the large depression.
  2. Stand back and admire the smiley face you undoubtedly just made.
  3. Pour the hot water over the entire pan. Mix with a silicone spatula until everything is smooth. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  4. When a toothpick comes out clean, remove from the oven and cool for an hour. At this point you can either serve as is or spritz the top with some triple sec to add a little zing.


Just look at that crumb, pretty good lookin' huh.

Well, sorry the pictures aren't as high quality as I'd like. The orange color came out much more muted that reality. The cake, however, was and is as good as I promise. I'll try and remember to take proper pictures before sending my next concoction into work. As a future note, I recently got a new ice cream maker, one of the Cuisinart models that has the freezable bowl. So now I can make ice creams and other frozen treats without having to plan on getting a ton of crushed ice from my lab, so be on the lookout.

Cheers for now,
Mike :)