After much trial and error with various vegan egg replacements, I landed on a sponge that’s nutty, moist, and pleasantly dense. The batter can be baked as two 6-inch cake layers or one 9-inch cake layer; either way, don’t open the oven door until the end of the baking time. Make sure to take your time with greasing, lining, and preparing cake strips for your tins—it will help you produce thick layers that are still flat and evenly baked.
2 tablespoons (14 grams) ground flax seed
5 tablespoons water
⅔ cup vegan buttermilk (I used Forager Project)
¼ cup (55 grams) neutral oil
1 cup (200 grams) panela or other vegan sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (120 grams) almond flour, toasted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
I used Lagusta Yearwood’s vegan chocolate ganache recipe from one of Alicia Kennedy’s Tenderly columns. (RIP)
1 pint blackberries
1-2 tablespoons sugar
Dried mint flowers (I used Pennyroyal Mint from Daphnis & Chloe)
Preheat your oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Grease and line your cake tin(s) with parchment paper cut to fit the bottom and sides. Slip on your cake strip(s) (or make your own, like I do) and set aside your prepared pan.
Make the flax egg by whisking flax meal and water in a small bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes to thicken and gel.
In a medium bowl, combine your buttermilk, oil, sugar, extracts, and flax egg. Whisk thoroughly to combine and dissolve sugar.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, corn starch, salt, and leaveners. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, and whisk for 30 seconds to a minute to beat out clumps and strengthen the batter.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan(s) and bake for 30-35 minutes. (Oddly enough, this goes for both 6” and 9” pans. I can't understand it.) Do not open the door before 30 minutes, and do not rotate the pan(s). This batter is delicate because 1.) it's vegan and 2.) it has reduced gluten, and it will dip in the center if disturbed too early. If you’re not using cake strips, baking will be faster—begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes. Test by inserting a small knife, cake tester, toothpick, skewer, whatever you have. The cake is done when your tester of choice comes out clean and the surface of the cake springs back after being gently poked.
Cool in pans for 10 minutes, run a butter knife around the outside, and cool on a rack.
I used Lagusta Yearwood’s recipe for Vegan Chocolate Ganache. To speed up cooling/thickening, pop your ganache in the fridge for 5-10 minutes at a time, give it a good whisking, and repeat as needed. It’s ready to use when it’s just beginning to set up and can hold its shape when stirred.
Preheat your oven to 425 Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with a silpat. Parchment works, but you may want to bake slightly longer at a lower temperature to avoid scorching.
Wash the blackberries and place in a medium bowl with sugar and mint to taste. (I use dried mint flowers and am pretty generous.) Toss to coat the berries, spread out on the baking sheet, and bake for 15-25 minutes, until juicy and soft. Remove and let cool.
Assembly and Decoration
For 6” cake: Place one cooled layer onto a plate, cake stand, or cake board. With a regular old soup spoon, dollop ⅔-½ of the ganache in the center. Spread it evenly and leave the edges taller to create a shallow well for the blackberries. Reserving a few for decorating, spread the rest of the berries in an even layer across the ganache well. Top with your second layer, dollop and spread the rest of the ganache, and decorate with roasted blackberries (and anything else you see fit). I just assemble what I have and choose things that will look or taste nice, (preferably both).
For 9” cake: Place cooled layer onto a plate, cake stand, or cake board. With a regular old soup spoon, dollop a few spoonfuls of ganache in the center of the cake and spread evenly. Decorate with roasted blackberries and anything else you see fit. I just assemble what I have and choose things that will look or taste nice (preferably both).