Do you like cake? Me too! Just because I eat plant-based doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good cake right? Or that I can’t make a decent birthday cake for my kids or husband that doesn’t contain nasty stuff. I’ve been mucking with this recipe for several years now, trying to find the perfect cake recipe. It started when I was merely vegan and oil-free. That was pretty simple. Then I had to eliminate wheat and gluten. That’s when it got interesting.
What I’ve come up with is an almond chocolate chip cake that is vegan, oil-free and gluten-free. And I have to say, it rocks. The moment of perfection came a few weeks ago when I made this for my husband’s birthday, which happens to coincide with New Year’s Eve. No pressure on THAT one right? The cake was a huge hit! I had to fend everyone off while I took these pictures. Between my two kids and their 4 thumbs I was given 20 thumbs up on this cake.
The perfect cake (for us) has to be moist, dense, and not overly sweet, with a good frosting or icing. In our family we liked our cakes dense and heavy like this, even before we were vegan. Luckily, vegan, oil-free, gluten-free baking lends itself quite well to finished products that are nice and dense. No light, fluffy cakes here!
The nice thing about this recipe is that it is pretty easy to make and pretty flexible. Don’t like almond extract? No worries, use vanilla instead. Aren’t gluten-free? Change out the gluten-free flour for whole wheat pastry flour (and skip the xanthum gum). Can’t eat almonds? No problem, just sub a cup of flour of your choice for the almond meal and use vanilla extract instead of almond extract.
To make a plain vanilla frosting, use soy milk or almond milk in place of the orange juice (and leave out the orange zest). See? So many options for a delicious and healthy birthday cake or celebration cake.
As for which gluten-free flour mix I prefer, I just started making my own from this post and I have to say, it was amazing in this cake! I can’t attest to it yet in a cookie, but it was perfect in this cake. I have purchased a few gf flour mixes in my time and not only are they extremely expensive, but I don’t always like the types of flours they use–fava bean flour has its place and it’s not in my cakes. I am finding that gluten-free flour mixes are a very personal thing and you have to find one that works for you. This one contains brown rice flour, tapioca starch, sorghum flour and coconut flour. You can buy these flours in bulk, mix up a batch in a large resealable bag and toss it around a few times to combine. Store it in the fridge and then you have gluten-free flour when you need it. Voila! Per the post, I leave out the xanthum gum from the mix so that I can customize it in any recipe I am using.
This cake is great to use for birthday cakes and I find that my kids and their friends prefer my homemade cakes to those nasty, preservative-filled store-bought cakes. What I like to do is make two different cakes with two different frostings so that everyone has a choice. You can serve them separately or stack them to make a 2-layer cake. If you want to make a version of this one that is chocolate chocolate chip, add in ½ cup of unsweetened cocoa and use ½ cup less of the gf flour mix. You can also use this recipe to make cupcakes, but I haven’t tried that just yet.
If you make this, please take pictures and share them on Facebook or Twitter and tag us!
Alright, on to the recipe!
- 1 cup almond meal
- 2 ½ cups gluten-free flour mix (if you aren’t gluten-free, use whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour)
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon xanthum gum (if not using gluten-free flour you can eliminate this)
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup vegan sugar (I prefer less processed sugars like sucanat or coconut sugar or at the very worst, organic dried cane syrup)
- 1 medium-size ripe banana
- 1 ½ cups almond milk (I use unsweetened but this is flexible—you can use vanilla flavored or sweetened or soy milk instead)
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1 cup vegan chocolate chips (new favorite: Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chips—hubba hubba!)
- 1 orange
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: almond meal through sugar.
- In a high-speed blender or regular blender mix the banana, milk and almond extract until smooth. A high-speed blender is preferred but if you don’t have one you can mash the banana by hand and mix the wet ingredients by hand in a bowl.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix by hand until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Add to a prepared 9” round cake pan. My preferred pan is a non-stick springform pan. I don’t have to grease it because once the cake cools and you release the springform mechanism, it pops right out.
- Bake for 30 minutes. A toothpick or cake tester should come out clean at this point.
- Let the cake cool, then remove from the springform pan.
- When it is completely cool, frost with the Orange Vanilla Icing.
- Zest the orange into a medium mixing bowl using a zester.
- Slice the orange in half at the equator (assuming the dimples are the north and south pole).
- Juice both halves of the orange.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the orange juice and the confectioner’s sugar to the zest in the mixing bowl.
- Using an electric hand mixer, beat the mixture until smooth and pasty, but still a tad loose. Add more orange juice if too dry, more confectioner’s sugar if too loose.
- Frost the cake immediately with a frosting spreader (or plain knife). When the frosting sits for a bit it forms a nice firm layer on the top, which is much nicer on the cake than in the bowl.