Wednesday 1 August 2007

Baking cake for climate change

My friend Yarrow has started up a climate change discussion group through the Big Switch website. The group is based in Wills electorate of Melbourne (and if you know your electorate you are much more knowledgeable than me, but Moreland might mean a bit more to locals) and is called Eat Cake, Save the World.

Yaz knows that I might be a little hesitant about joining political groups but I will always be interested in cake. So I am in! The idea is that we meet, bake cake, and talk about what we might do about climate change – a bit of thinking globally and acting locally.

The cake we chose is a favourite Vikki Leng vegan chocolate cake recipe that has tofu, coconut cream and dates to make it moist and sweet. It sounds crazy but it works. I have made it a few times before but unfortunately this was not its most successful incarnation – I think it needed a little more time in the oven. This is not a rich chocolatey one that is so rich and fudgy that it can cope with a gooey centre. No, it bakes firm with a crumb-like texture.

It can easily be done as a vegan cake but I had forgotten to bring the soy milk, so we used cow’s milk. I think this recipe is comparatively low fat. Yaz had thought that coconut cream is high in fat, but when we compared it to butter we were pleasantly surprised. We also did half wholemeal flour and half white flour. Nevertheless it is an old fashioned wholesomely healthy vegan cake with a dense texture than comes from wholemeal flour and dates rather than chocolate. But I still find it pleasing.

Yaz was keen to make the recommended chocolate and date cream to ice the cake. I enjoyed stirring the dates, cocoa and water over the heat and seeing it get all pulpy. The icing was ok, but a bit sweet for my liking. Yaz loved it and so did E. I am glad to have tried it although I don’t have much inclination to make it again.

The cake was cautiously appreciated - however once others tried it with cream they were much happier with it - but that wasn't my sort of thing! It felt like a good honest cake to be eating while we discussed water saving devices, organic food, and light bulbs. I also had one of the most curiously pleasing teas I’ve ever had – salted cherry green tea! It was a relaxed (and small) meeting which I enjoyed. I’ll be interested to see how this group develops. I suspect the baking wont always be so healthy!

Chocolate Coconut and Date Cake
(from A Vegetarian Feast by Vikki Leng)

250g tofu, drained
225ml coconut cream
3 tbsp honey
1/2 cup (125ml) soy milk (or cow’s milk)
2 cups (250g) wholemeal self raising flour (or use half wholemeal and half white)
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup (155g) chopped pitted dates

Chocolate and Date Cream:
1 cup (155g) chopped pitted dates
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup (125ml) water

To make cake:
Blend tofu, coconut cream, honey and milk in food processor or blender. Pour into bowl and ‘fold’ in remaining ingredients. (Our mixture was quite stiff and didn’t fold and pour as the recipe suggested.) Spoon mixture into lined and greased round 20cm cake tin and bake in moderate oven (180C) for 30 minutes or til a skewer comes out cleanly. Cool on a wire rack. You can ice with Chocolate and Date Cream while still warm (but I think it tastes good fresh and un-iced).

To make icing:
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and warm gradually. The recipe says bring to boil and simmer til dates become pulpy but ours never boiled as it warmed slowly. We also found we needed to add a bit more water. The recipe says to blend in food processor but we didn’t blend it further.

On the Stereo:
The Boy with the Arab Strap: Belle & Sebastian


  1. What a fantastic way to approach what to many people seems such an overwhelming problem (the site's great by the way). With cake as a starting point, things are certainly looking up! Love that album too.

  2. Lovely! i have come across different cake recipes calling for tofu but haven't tried any. I am glad you tried! :)

  3. Oooooooh la la!! Very cool cake here. i am going to check out the lynx you put here, thank you for those! Cake in politics, who'da thunk???

  4. thanks Lucy - it is a great approach! And yes, that is a fantastic album indeed!

    Thanks Anh - tofu is great in this cake and makes me think I should use it more in baking - I think this is the only cake recipe I have tried with cake

    Thanks Kleopatra - cake and politics certainly seems to work well for me!

  5. I'm so trying this recipe soon. It sounds great. I'm a big fan of dates!

  6. Kristy - if you love dates you will love this cake esp the icing - Yaz loves dates too and loved the icing - although it was a bit much for me - maybe I just don't love dates enough!


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