From muffins to cupcakes and more, vegan baking has exploded, becoming synonymous with “tasty” instead of “something that those health nuts eat.” But before we get into the nuts and bolts of turning your favorite grandma’s cake recipe into a vegan delight, a small disclaimer: Vegan baked goods are still baked goods. They still have sugar and they’re still treats; so just because it’s a vegan cupcake doesn’t mean you can eat three and say you enjoyed a healthy snack.
You may be asking, if vegan cupcakes are still treats, why not just go for the gold and eat a non-vegan cupcake? Well, many vegan recipes may also be gluten-free, and many vegan bakers tend to use organic ingredients. Besides being delicious (I can attest to it after trying multiple vegan bakeries), it’s also a way to go through those Meat (and Dairy) Free Mondays from breakfast to dessert.
As for a third reason, “I’d like to say it tastes better,” offers Crystal Dawn Froberg, owner of the Long Beach Island-based Passion Flour Cupcakery, who’s crave-worthy treats are available at both Baked on the Beach in Surf City and Ecoffea in Beach Haven. “It’s fresher, cleaner. It’s a different way of eating, a more compassionate choice.”
Froberg, who’s also a yoga teacher, has been a lifelong baker and a vegan since she was 19-years-old. Her love of baking, especially her grandmother’s recipes, led her to experiment in the kitchen, finding substitutes for milk and eggs while still maintaining that perfect cake or cookie consistency.
“When I bake something for someone who’s vegan or gluten-free and see them smile, that’s so special for me,” said Froberg, who believes everyone deserves a little sweet treat in their life, no matter their diet.
Through trial and error, she eventually found some of her favorite vegan baking substitutes (surprisingly, she doesn’t even bother replacing the eggs found in cakes). Lucky for us, she’s a sharer!
- Guar Gum – This popular vegan and gluten-free ingredient is an egg substitute that helps to make cookies creamy while binding together the ingredients. Yes, it has an odd name, but it’s only because the guar seeds are dehusked, milled, and then screened to make the guar gum.
- Flaxseed or Chia Meal in Water – If you’re in with the healthy crowd, you most likely have both of these ingredients in your pantry already. Just add some water, and they’ll provide you with a chewy taste for your favorite chocolate chip cookies. Froberg says you only need about 1-2 tablespoons per dozen cookies.
- Organic Vegan Butter or Coconut Oil – Some may call it margarine, but Froberg enjoys the taste of her favorite brands, particularly Organic Earth Balance and Organic Smart Balance, a lot more in her cookies. As for coconut oil, she tends to use it solely in the winter, since it liquefies in the summer.
- Coconut Milk and Almond Milk – Yes, it’s as easy as swapping a cow’s milk for a dairy-free milk. One of Froberg’s favorite ways to mix it up is to use a combination of coconut and almond milk in her baking. Coconut milk offers a decent amount of fat, similar to what’s found in dairy milk.
- Coconut Sugar and Maple Syrup – Instead of just relying on one type of sugar, why not combine a few? Try a mixture of organic sugars to achieve the most flavor. If you’re adding maple syrup, just remember to reconfigure your liquid measurements!
Below, Froberg has provided us with the recipe for her “Summer Wild Flower Lemon Cake.”
Summer Wild Flower Lemon Cake
Courtesy: Crystal Froberg of Passion Flour Cupcakery
Lovely Ingredient List
2 ½ Cups Organic Flour
3/4 Cup Organic Coconut Sugar
3/4 Cup Organic Cane Sugar
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Cup Rice Milk
1 Cup Coconut Milk
2 Teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2/3 Organic Sunflower Oil
5 Drops of Lemon Essential Oil
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
Fresh Zest of 2 Organic Lemons
Whipped Lemon Frosting
2 Cups Organic Earth Balance
3-5 Cups Organic Powdered Sugar
3-5 Tablespoons of Rice or Coconut Milk
5-7 Drops of Lemon Essential Oil
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
Fresh Zest of 2 Organic Lemons
Fresh organic berries chopped, if needed.
Sweetly combine the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk lovingly until combined well. Same with the wet ingredients. Gently pour wet ingredients into the dry. Whisk carefully until batter is smooth. Pour batter into two well-greased, 6 inch cake pans. Bake at 350 for 25-30 min. Cool for an hour or so. Remove very gently from pans and cool in fridge for one hour.
For the Whipped Lemon Frosting
In your hand mixer or Kitchen Aid with the Paddle attachment, whip the butter slowly. Carefully add the Powdered Sugar 1/2 Cup at a time. Add Vanilla and Lemon Essence. Alternate your choice of Non-Dairy Milk and Powdered Sugar until Frosting is light and fluffy. Once cake is cooled, fill each layer with fresh berries and frosting. Stack the layers evenly and frost the outside of the cake.
Pick some flowers from your garden or maybe your neighbor’s garden, or grab some from your local farm or florist and arrange flowers in the sweetest fashion on the top of your cake and ENJOY every little morsel.
Hero (Top) Feature Image (& Additional Images): © Crystal Dawn Froberg / Passion Flour Cupcakery