“No snacks, no seconds, no sweets – except on days that begin with the letter S.
– Michael Pollan, from Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual
My sweets/sugar philosophy summed up by Mr. Pollan. And mostly I stick to it. I find that if I indulge myself on Saturdays and Sundays then it’s easy getting through the weekdays without cravings. Hence, the towering cake pictured above, created on a Saturday morning (in time for a post-lunch treat).
The process doesn’t always go smoothly (another word that begins with the letter S), however. It sure seemed like an awful lot of batter to pour into an 11″ x 7″ baking pan – especially with that big one tablespoon of baking powder and the huge heaping pile of chocolatey crumble on top – but who was I to question? Into the oven went the cake (with just one last look at the directions). There it was in black and white: “grease an 11″ x 13″ baking pan…” Oh dear. Fingers crossed. Oven door slammed shut. Over the next 30 minutes I watched the cake rise and rise above the sides of the glass pan, hoping the contents wouldn’t spill down onto the oven floor and burn into cinders. You can see from the photos that the cake is rather tall, but is no worse for the wear for being squeezed into a smaller pan.
Incidentally, also too late I realized that I had only one chai tea bag (the recipe called for 4-5). Determined to go forward, I settled on using a black tea bag, the lone chai tea bag and two teabags spiced similarly to chai. The result worked perfectly – a mildly spicy and fragrant cake. The coconut milk yogurt makes for a very tender, moist crumb. Even if you aren’t a “corner” person, you’ll want the corner pieces of this cake on account of their extra coating of crumble.
This is another recipe adapted from The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes, by Kris Holechek. I used some whole wheat flour instead of 100% white flour and instead of a whopping 1 1/2 cups sugar, I used 1/4 cup maple sugar and powdered stevia; small tweaks to the topping included subbing whole wheat for white flour and reducing the sugar by half.
(For some thoughts on women and sweets, have a read over at Rachel in Veganland.)
Tea and Chocolate Cake with Cocoa Crumble
Makes an 11″ x 13″ cake
4-5 chai tea bags (I used 1 Tazo Awake, 1 Tazo Organic Chai, 2 Tazo Sweet Cinnamon)
1 3/4 cups almond milk, warmed
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. powdered stevia
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup maple sugar
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1 6 oz. carton coconut milk (or soy or almond) yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp. maple sugar
2 packets crystallized stevia (or 3 additional tbsp. maple sugar)
4 tbsp. vegan butter
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F and lightly oil an 11″ x 13″ pan.
Make the batter:
In a glass measuring cup, warm the milk, then steep the teabags for at least 5 minutes. Gently squeeze the bags and let the milk cool completely.
In a large bowl, mix the flours, stevia, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together the sunflower oil and the maple sugar until smooth. Whisk in the yogurt, vanilla and cooled tea-milk mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Make the topping:
In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, brown sugar and flour. Cut the butter into small pieces and work into the cocoa mixture until crumbly. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, top with the crumble mixture and bake for 35-40 minutes. The edges of the cake should be firm and the top springy. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into generous pieces.