I have a particular nostalgic fondness for vanilla sponge with chocolate buttercream. It may be an unusual combination but it’s one my mum used to make for birthday cakes; I particularly remember a wonderful hedgehog cake decorated with mini chocolate flakes! I do urge you to give it a go, it may be unconventional but vanilla sponge with chocolate buttercream totally works. The dark bitterness of the chocolate tempers the sweet sponge and the colour contrast adds to the delight.
There are a lot of so-so egg and dairy-free cake recipes out there, particularly vanilla flavoured ones. So often they can be a bit crumbly and dry, or worse flat and rubbery. I’m obviously not counting my own recipes in that assessment (ha ha!) but I have come across some depressingly bad specimens over the years. There is a tendency for vegan cakes to be ‘ok’ rather than delicious, particularly shop bought versions. This vanilla sponge on the other hand is utterly perfect – it’s light and fluffy, but in no way dry and crumbly. It’s so good you’d be forgiven for questioning whether it is vegan! The custard powder is crucial for giving a wonderful crumb and vanilla flavour but if you can’t find it (not all is dairy-free so make sure you check) you can sub cornflour and an extra tsp of vanilla.
Perfect Chocolate and Vanilla Cake
(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)
makes one sandwich cake
370g self-raising flour
2 tbsps Birds custard powder
220g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
290ml dairy-free milk
2 tbsps dairy-free yogurt
100g dairy-free margarine, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 5. Grease and line 2 20cm sandwich tins
- Sift together the flour, custard powder, bicarb and salt
- Stir in the sugar
- In a separate bowl, mix together the dairy-free milk, melted dairy-free margarine, yogurt and vanilla.
- Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix gently until well combined.
- Pour into the cake tins and bake for 30 minutes, until a knife comes out clean
- Cool in the cake tins for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack
for the chocolate buttercream:
40g dairy-free margarine
15g vegetable fat such as Trex
300g icing sugar
30g cocoa powder
2 and 1/2 tbsp dairy-free milk