My First Daring Baker’s Challenge

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Despite the veritable cornucopia of vegan foods available, many vegans find themselves rendering vegan many recipes from their pasts, things that we could refer to as comfort foods. Sometimes it’s a fairly easy exercise – swapping meat with a fancy rendering of tofu or seitan or tempeh – but sometimes veganizing something proves to be a wee bit more difficult, or at least, requiring a bit more imagination…

I happened upon The Daring Bakers, a fab group of blogging, whisk-wielding chefs, and realized right away that they were to offer me the challenge I was seeking : by accepting their monthly challenges, I would be forced to sharpen my vegan-baking skills, and would in the process learn how to better substitute all the things I avoid.

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Our challenge recipe was for “Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake” from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours. The party cake sounded like a great, basic white cake recipe to use for birthday parties & the like, but my main task was to replace the 4 sticks of butter and 8 egg whites, and change up the cow’s milk for the soy milk. I know that there are oodles of already tried-and-true vegan cake recipes out there, but I wanted to stay as true to the real recipe as possible. I would have rather used an egg substitute like Ener-G for this particular cake because if would have helped with the “light & fluffyness” factor, but it’s unavailable where I live. I opted for ground flax seeds, which worked really well, and imparted a lovely soft “bananaish” flavour to the lemon-scented cake. I also had to cut way down on the butter – the recipe called for 1 stick – and I was really worried about the way the cake would turn out with these drastic changes, but I am happy to report it was absolutely delicious!
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As you can see from the photo, the flax did change the color of the supposed-to-be- pristine-white party cake, and yes, it was more moist & dense than light & fluffy, but we devoured it! I also obviously had to tinker with the buttercream frosting recipe as it called for eggs and butter, and I only iced the top layer of the cake because it just would have been too much for us (I also added some yellow color for a bit more festivity since we used this cake for my super-cute visiting mom’s birthday cake). The lemon flavour worked so well with the raspberry preserves and the flaked coconut, and we all had seconds (and thirds…).

I almost backed out of my first challenge because I was concerned about deviating too much from the original recipe, but I am so glad I sucked it up and dove in. It was also extra fun because my mom and I baked this up (while my usual baking partner, the Guppy, took her nap). Don’t get me wrong, I love baking with my little Guppy, but I think it was the first time I ever did a baking project with my mom!

I’d like to say thanks to this month’s challenge host Morven for taking the time to choose this wonderfully challenging recipe which gave us room to groove and move in our own individual ways!

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17 thoughts on “My First Daring Baker’s Challenge

  1. You did a fabulous job on your cake. I made one of my versions with flax seed meal as the binder as I bake gluten free. However, I wasn’t all that fond of the flavor the flax seed meal gave to the cake…it seemed more like fiber carob bread than a cake. I’m delighted yours turned out so well.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  2. I think your cake turned out really well.. I mean you had such a big challenge on your hands and you turned it around to work for you!!! Congratulations on your first challenge!! Welcome to the group and I hope you have lots of fun with us!

  3. Please email me shellyfish! Several of the alternative daring baker’s are interested in “baking together” via email one saturday a month to complete the challenge! We’ve met once before and it’s great fun to email and bake with each other, it helps if you have any questions, or if you just want to share your own expertise with each other!! Looking forward to hearing from you! (Couldn’t find your email here!)

  4. You did an AWESOME job!! You are definitely a daring baker! I love using flaxseeds in place of eggs too! Great job on your cake!!

    Carrie @ Ginger Lemon Girl

  5. Thank you all for the wonderful comments – you are all very, very kind.

    Hi Susan- yes, you can use lots of things to sub eggs, and finely ground flax seeds work really well (about 2 tbs ground flax to 3ish tbs water = 1 egg). Flax seeds work *better* in more earthly tasting things like banana breads or carrot cakes, etc., but I wanted to give it a try in the cake…which I think I wouldn’t do again, but hey, I’m learning, and that was the goal! :)

  6. Great job sticking to it and prevailing with a lovely vegan cake in the end! This was my second DB challenge and, like you, I enjoy tackling these non-vegan recipes. Congrats!

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