Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vegan Pistachio Cardamom Cake with Rosewater Buttercream

I'm not a huge fan of cake. I don't really like to eat it, and my cake-making skills are subpar at best. Sure, cupcakes are cute. And cake decorating can be very exciting. But when my birthday rolls around, I'll smile politely at that white spongy thing with sugar roses on top, all the while wishing you had done your research and made me a blueberry cobbler instead. That being said, I realize I'm in the minority here. Many people like, nay LOVE, cake in each and all of its forms. And I'm a more of a people pleaser than a cake-hater, so I've decided to up my cake game. Especially my vegan cake game, because let's face it, most things out there calling themselves 'vegan cakes' are little more than crumbly, tasteless rocks with frosting.

And then I met this cake. This moist, delicate, pretty cake with a flavor palette that manages to blow you away with a whisper. And no one even had a suspicion it was vegan. Had I not made it myself, I would have been skeptical. This cake has most assuredly taken the #1 spot on my cake list, and I'm pretty sure everyone who met this cake came away a little changed for the better. Ken was left speechless initially, then began making general 'yummy/delicious/what-is-this-joy-in-my-mouth?!' sounds, and finally declared it the best thing I'd ever made. This comes from the man who had no sweet tooth before he met me. When asked to make a comment about what this cake is like, he said "Snacking at the Casbah." Let's let the cake speak for itself.

Did I mention that this cake was near perfection? The flavor was light, nutty and subtly sweet. The texture was moist with a little crunch, and the frosting was stiff and mildly sweet with that faint floral background that rosewater delivers. The kind of cake vegans, and the lactose intolerant dream about. To save ourselves from completely devouring this little miracle, we gave out huge chunks to friends, co-workers, and anyone who passed by the apartment. But not before enjoying a slice with tea, icing covered faces and all.

Vegan Pistachio Cardamom Cake
3/4 cup vanilla soy yogurt (I used one 60z container of whole soy & co)
1 cup soymilk
2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1.5 cup + 2 tbsp flour
3 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
heaping 1/4 tsp salt
heaping 1/4 tsp cardamom
2/3 cup finely chopped pistachios (a few chunks are fine, and welcome in my opinion!)

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Grease and line two 9in pans with parchment paper. Whisk together the wet ingredients in a large bowl. In a seperate bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cardamom. Blend the dry mix into the wet mix, and mix together until the majority of lumps are gone (Do not use a mixer! Don't over mix!). Fold in pistachios. Pour evenly into pans (pans will only be about 1/3 full). Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until skewer in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans on wire racks (do not remove from pans until completely cooled).

While your cakes are cooling, make the frosting.

Vegan Rosewater Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup earth balance margaring
3.5 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
4 tbsp soy creamer
2 tsp vanilla
3-4 tsp rosewater (depending on taste)

Using hand mixer, blend shortening and margarine until well mixed and fluffy. Sift sugar in 1 cup at a time and blend. Add creamer, vanilla and rosewater slowly and blend to desired flavor/consistency. Blend for several minutes to make light and fluffy.

*I tend to start 1 tsp/tbsp at a time with the last three ingredients, blending and tasting until it seems just right. If you add too much wet ingredients, remember you can always add more sugar to stiffen it up. I also added some pink icing gel coloring to give it a subtly pink-peach tint and a pretty little touch.

Once the cakes are cooled, lay the first one down and icing the top. Add the second layer, and spread icing around the top and sides. Decorate as you please!