When I first became enamored with baking cakes and cupcakes, I struggled to match them with a good icing recipe. Even as a non-vegan hobby baker, I had a pretty strong dislike for most icing that I could make.
The standard American buttercream (usually a mixture between shortening and/or butter and powdered sugar with some milk and vanilla added) always seemed too sweet for me. Also, what a pain it is to make! So much of each ingredient needed to go into the recipe in order to do anything with it. I usually use a ratio of equal parts powdered sugar and shortening/butter (or Earth Balance) divided, so it would be for example:
1 cup shortening
1 cup butter/non-dairy substitute
2 cups powdered sugar
This is a lot of each ingredient to yield enough icing to ice a cake or some cupcakes...Also, look at the amount of fat and sugar goes into it! A bit much, I think. I prefer things to be slightly sweet and more rounded in flavor when it comes to desserts...I've mentioned this many times in my posts! But, when it comes to icing, it seems almost impossible to balance flavor in an icing that has a stable texture for decorating...well, until now!! ;)
With the amazing discovery of aquafaba, I have learned how to create amazing Swiss Meringue-style buttercream that is free of eggs or dairy! I have worked with this type of buttercream for years now at my job and I love working with it because it is always smooth and easy to work with for decorating cakes. It also hardens when it's cold so your cakes are more stable once they have set in the fridge for a while. The only issue with it is that it is an egg white-based recipe.
I learned to make this type of buttercream by cooking granulated sugar and egg whites, whipping them and then adding a ton of butter to them until the entire mixture emulsifies and becomes soft, smooth buttercream. The process is quite long, especially if you are making a large batch.
This batch that I've created is a small one, ideal for a 6 inch round cake or 12 cupcakes. It is ideal for the home kitchen because it is quick, does not require any cooking, and is only reliant on 1 cup of non-dairy butter substitute. The amount of sugar is dependent on your taste, as well! I believe that you might be able to substitute the sweetener if you choose, but make sure you are ready to experiment a little with the ratios of the other ingredients as it may change the texture. The goal is for this buttercream to firm up enough to pipe and ice, so make sure there is still some structure there.
I love that I managed to make this buttercream work! I like the way it looks compared to other vegan icings I've used. A veganized American buttercream can sometimes be bubbly if it is over-whipped. This buttercream is always smooth and silky, ideal for piping roses/flowers, borders, etc. on your cake or cupcakes! I'm so happy I've found a way to make this recipe and I'm so excited to share it with all of you! Feel free to sub the non-dairy butter with coconut oi. I've tried this and it works beautifully. As long as you refrigerate your cake prior to serving, the icing will stay in its proper place! Leaving it out of the fridge, as long as it is in a cool environment for a couple hours is fine, too.
Here are a couple of cakes I've used this buttercream for (one was for yesterday's VeganMoFo post!) I hope they inspire you to do your own homemade cakes or cupcakes! =) Happy icing!
Vegan Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Yeild: About 4 cups, finished
Enough to ice: 1-6" cake/12 cupcakes
Free of: Gluten, Soy*, Nuts
*Depending on your non-dairy butter
Sometimes, you just want a specific cake.
Ever since I've had delicious Japanese-style strawberry shortcake, I've been on a mission to recreate it in my own kitchen.
Although it's been a while since I've had a traditional cake made with eggs, I can still remember the springy and light texture that I enjoyed so much. I loved how the cake was not too heavy. This type of cake is a variety called castella cake, which is of a Portuguese origin. Sponge cakes are difficult to recreate into a vegan and gluten-free variety because they usually call for a lot of eggs or egg whites for volume. But, somehow, some way, I've formulated a recipe that yields a light and springy (but more delicate) sponge cake that is free of egg, dairy and gluten! This recipe was a bit of a work in progress so I made it a few times. I'll share the cupcake version as well as the full-on cake version!
I decided to share this recipe as a matcha (green tea) flavor since I wanted to drive home the Japanese theme. The cake can be made into a vanilla flavor by omitting the matcha powder and adding in some vanilla extract. Easy, right? =)
The strawberry shortcake that I loved so much was made with heavy whipped cream. I used to love and hate whipped cream before I became vegan. I loved the way it tasted and I loved how it was less sweet than buttercream, but I hated how I felt after I ate it. I felt borderline sick after consuming whipped cream. I also felt this way after eating eggs sometimes...you can see why I've chosen to eat the way I do!
If coconuts didn't exist, I don't know what I would do. Coconuts have allowed me to enjoy whipped cream again without the sick feeling (or the guilty feeling for that matter!). I'm sure it is now almost common knowledge that coconut cream can be a wonderful substitute for whipped cream in any situation (unless it's super hot out). If you aren't familiar with how to make coconut whipped cream, please head on over to this page and read all about it! It's the easiest thing in the world...and it tastes way better than traditional heavy cream, at least I think so. ;)
I recommend using ripe organic strawberries for this recipe. It's the end of the summer season, so the strawberries are still beautiful by me! If you want to make this cake in the winter and eat seasonally, maybe use some fruit preserves or serve with a custard filling instead. This is a great cake base for all types of flavors and ingredients, so play around!
(I just realized that these cakes look really Christmas-y because of the green, red, and white...whoops!) ^_^'
Green Tea Strawberry Shortcake
* coconut sugar will change the flavor of the cake a little to something more reminiscent of caramel; I wanted a neutral sweetness so I used Florida Crystals
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
**Sifting the flours will ensure your batter will be smoother. If you skip this step, you will have to work extra hard to get the lumps out when you stir everything!
Here is a picture of how I made the cake look for it's 6" size. I used a strawberry buttercream on this one instead of whipped cream. Although, if you make your whipped cream stiff enough, you can certainly use it for icing. I would add some confectioner's sugar and/or Ener-G egg powder to it for stability.
Happy baking, fellow MoFo'ers! =P
This post will be somewhat personal...I don't think that having a blog would be complete without some personal and slightly emotional content (related to food, of course!). There are many, many reasons why I am vegan today. My dear friend Emily introduced me to the lifestyle in highschool. She was a vegetarian when I met her. She introduced me to wonderful staple foods like hummus and falafel that were quite foreign to me at the time. These are now part of my normal diet and I absolutely could not thank her enough for leading me to them!
As I was becoming vegetarian, Em was trying to become vegan. I thought I was having a tough time! I remember she would stash hummus in her purse to smear on bagels. She also switched some clothing and accessories for cruelty-free materials. The hardest part about the transition for her was giving up ice cream. It probably didn't help at all that we both worked at an ice cream shop....
Needless to say, she phased in and out of veganism for a while before quitting. I believe she may have picked it back up after highschool, though. I know it's been a long, long journey for me. I didn't even entertain the idea of veganism until I graduated college and began to read inspirational literature like The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life and Food, Inc.. Over all, I look to this lifestyle as a way of minimizing suffering and maximizing positive vibes (the health benefits and feelings of closeness to the earth are added bonuses!). Emily was still my first exposure to veganism, though. I was always inspired by her interests in activism, animal rights, and conscious living. Another big reason for my adherence to this diet and lifestyle is the preservation of her memory.
For reasons still unclear, Emily's life was taken while she was away at college in Gettysburg, PA. This came as a shock to everyone who knew her and to her school community. This tragedy shook us all to the core. We have all tried desperately to keep Em's spirit and memory alive in any way we can. Her family created a memorial fund in her honor; memorial trees, plaques and peace poles were erected in places her life greatly affected. Em's ashes were also scattered around the globe in amazing places that she would have loved to travel to.
As one of my dearest friends and greatest role models, Emily will always have a place in the forefront of my mind and heart. I try to do right by her every day in all the ways that I can. As you can see, this effort has manifested into the creation of vegan food. The recipe I'm sharing with you today is based on flavors that Em loved (she had great taste) and her favorite flower. I made these to celebrate her birthday which was yesterday. Every year, I try to either make and/or eat a delicious vegan cupcake for the occasion. I don't think she'd have it any other way. :)
So, without further a-do, I present (Emily's) Loaded Sunbutter Cupcakes! These babies are basically a twist on a Take 5 candy bar, which Em was rather fond of. Instead of peanut butter, I used sunflower seed butter to pay homage to one of the most beautiful and dramatic flowers on Earth. Each cupcake is: sunflower seed butter cupcake filled with a dark chocolate mousse and topped with a sunflower seed buttercream frosting. I sprinkled sunflower seeds and gluten-free pretzel crumbs on most of them for garnish. For one, I piped a sunflower and finished the center with chocolate chips. This can be done with plain buttercream and colored yellow, but I wanted the flavor of the sunbutter on mine. Get creative with yours! These are supposed to be fun! :D
Emily's Loaded Sunbutter Cupcakes
Yield: 15 cupcakes (I used 2 mini ice-cream scoops for each)
Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
(She's the vegan cupcake GENIUS! If it weren't for this book, I may not be a vegan...maybe....) ;)
For the cake
Preheat oven to 350 F.
For the mousse filling
For the Sunbuttercream
**To make this frosting completely natural/clean, sub the processed fats for refined coconut oil/palm fruit oil; Just make sure the frosting stays cool...otherwise, it may be a bit runny.**
I hope you enjoy making these cupcakes as much as I did! They're also fun to eat, too...
For more information on my girl Emily, you can visit her memorial fund website. She was truly an amazing soul. I hope I've inspired you like she's inspired me time and time again.
Peace, Love, Cupcakes <3
This is my very first food blog! I post revised conventional recipes of foods that I hold near and dear to my heart. My cooking here is all gluten-free and cruelty-free, but full of flavor and comfort.