Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cake of the Week: Vegan Chocolate Cake with Espresso Buttercream

Every time I make a cake, 6x6 inevitably inquires, “Are you going to make buttercream?” and the requisite follow-ups, “What kind of buttercream?” and, “Do you think they’ll be leftovers?” The girl is a buttercream fiend, in the awesomest way possible (it's an exclusive club...are you a member?)!

So for her birthday cake, clearly buttercream was on the menu. Espresso Buttercream. Thickly covering a Vegan Chocolate Cake (not because anyone involved was vegan -  clearly the addition of buttercream negated any inkling of veganism – but this is my favorite chocolate cake recipe...vegan or not it’s good!).

Buttercream is actually an elusive term. A chef would say that there are 4 kinds: Swiss, Italian, and French Meringues and American Buttercream. Jess, Erin and I made Swiss Meringue once (for the Rainbow Cake) and I was not a fan. It’s basically straight butter with a little sugar and egg whites. The Italian and French versions have essentially the same ingredients and only vary in preparation methods (if you want more details, read Sweetapolita’s post).

The American version, however, I can definitely get on board with! The classic recipe is a mix of butter,  powered sugar, milk (or cream), and vanilla, all blended into a bowl full of intense goodness. The preparation is simple: no need to melt sugar into egg whites, no thermometers, and no worries that your buttercream won’t thicken. All you have to do is “cream” the butter for 5 minutes before mixing in the sugar. Voila, buttercream!

Last night the girls came over to sing Happy Birthday and enjoy large slabs of delicious cake. We rolled around my living room in a collective frosting coma, giggling and gossiping excessively, starting off 6x6’s next trip around the sun in the best way possible: with friends, chocolate, espresso, and buttercream!

Vegan Chocolate Cake
makes 24 cupcakes or two to three 8 or 9-inch round cakes
recipe from Organic and Chic
  • 2 1/4 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup organic canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons organic white vinegar
  • 2 cups cold water

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line three 9” round pans with parchment paper. (Warning: This recipe tends to stick, so I strongly suggest you go for the parchment paper.)
  3. In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, water, vanilla extract and vinegar.
  5. Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients being careful not to over-mix. The mixture will be quite wet, but that's ok.
  6. Pour the batter into all 3 pans evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then remove from pan and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. I recommend putting cakes in the freezer for an additional 30 minutes before frosting the cake, it will make them easier to handle.

Espresso Buttercream
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 cups sifted confectioners' sugar/powdered sugar
  • 1 pod espresso powder (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk

  1. With an electric mixer, cream the butter for 5 minutes.
  2. Blend in 2 cups powdered sugar.
  3. Blend in rest of ingredients. Add more milk or powdered sugar as necessary to reach desired consistency.
  4. Frost your cake and enjoy!

Happy Birthday 6x6!!!