I am going to be honest with you, I don’t have the best baking track record – especially cake. I have a hard time following recipes and my husband will certainly tell you about all my baking fails. When I read and develop savoury recipes, I look at the ingredients and the method but I don’t follow the measurements. I like to figure it out by instinct. This helps me to develop my palate and understand flavours better. Usually this method leads to disaster when it comes to baking – until now.
This recipe came about when my friend asked me to help her make the food for her birthday. I offered to cook all the food and I also wanted to make her birthday cake. There is something so fun about making birthday cakes isn’t there? Maybe its the decorating or getting to make something that is indulgent or a combination of the two but I really look forward to making them.
This cake was going to be different though. My friend follows a dairy free, vegetarian diet and someone at the party was gluten free and this made coming up with a recipe quite exciting. People asking me for more vegan recipes recently so I though this was a great chance to take on another challenge! A couple weeks ago I had made a really delicious dark chocolate zucchini (courgette for my Dutchies) cake that everyone loved, so I started to think about how I could make it vegan. I had a recipe that I developed from my grain free days for a vegan, gluten free carrot muffin and thought I could adapt it to become a vegan, grain free version of that zucchini cake.
So I went to work playing. I loved this process. I made this cake 3 times in a week! Lol. The first one turned out amazingly. I was blown away at how delicious and rich and indulgent it tasted with so little fat and sugar and no butter! The zucchini kept the cake so moist, that even days later it tasted just as good. But it was really the frosting that “took the cake”…
I have this thing about fluffy frosting for birthday cakes. It’s my favourite. I love a good cream cheese frosting but I had no clue how to get this texture in dairy free form. Thankfully there is Pinterest and I came across this frosting recipe from The Chalkboard. It is so rich and creamy and fluffy that it has become my new favourite. I’m not sure I will ever go back to a dairy based frosting after discovering this beautiful recipe. I would have never thought that almond butter whipped up could become so light and fluffy – but it does!
My one piece of advice for baking this cake is take your time. You must chill everything – both the cakes and the frosting – in order to get the right textures. The frosting needs to “set” and I find the cakes need the time in the fridge to make it possible to manoeuvre them without having them fall apart. So don’t skip these steps, I tried, which made my 2nd attempt at this cake not my best. The flavours were there but the presentation was a mess and of course this was the one I made for the birthday! Oh everyday is a lesson learned. So now I know from my third attempt, when I took my time, I was able to achieve the exact presentation that I envisioned in my head.
Scroll for the recipe…
- 250 g almond flour
- 6 Tbsp coconut flour
- 50 g cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
- 2 bananas
- 125 ml coconut oil, melted
- 115 g maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large zucchini/courgette, grated
- 200g dark chocolate chips
- 400g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
- 60 ml coconut oil
- 50 ml maple syrup
- 300 g almond butter
- 200 ml almond milk or coconut milk
- Preheat oven to 175C/350F. Line the bottom of 2 6" springform cake tins with baking paper and grease the sides of the pans.
- Mix all the dry cake ingredients in a medium bowl until combined.
- Add bananas to a large bowl and mash. Add coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Whisk until light and fluffy.
- Slowly fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.
- Drain any excess liquid from your grated zucchini and fold into the cake batter. Once combined, fold in the chocolate chips.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and make sure to smooth the top before putting in the oven.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until the centre is set and a toothpick comes out clean of batter - but beware you will have chocolate on it from the chocolate chips melting.
- Let cool in the pans for 20 minutes then remove the sides and let cool completely before placing the cakes in the fridge for minimum 1 hour before decorating.
- Melt chocolate and coconut oil in thick saucepan or double broiler. Stir and remove from heat when melted.
- Slowly add maple syrup and stir to incorporate. Allow to cool.
- Transfer mixture to mixing bowl and beat in almond butter until a thick, whippy frosting is formed.
- Add almond or coconut milk as needed for consistency.
- Cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour before decorating the cake.
- Place the cake on top of two pieces of baking paper on your serving place. Place one cake in the centre and top with 1/3rd of the frosting. Smooth the frosting evenly over the surface of the cake.
- Top with the second layer and use the rest of the frosting to cover the sides and top of the cake. Dragging our palate knife along the sides to get a smooth finish.
- Top with berries and flowers for a special occasion.