Originally posted on the fabulous Ko Rasoi. Enjoy!
This cherry is absolutely necessary.
I'm in a bit of a bad way; these cupcakes have made me question everything I thought I knew about baking and cake. Basically, for me it feels as if the whole world has been turned upside down at the moment.
You see, they are eggless. If you don't bake very much, that might not sound like a big deal, but I promise you it is. It's a big a deal as you can get. I remember learning in Home Economics at school that the lecithin and fat in egg yolks were what gave texture to cakes, and that eggs also acted as a leavening agent, so it never even occurred to me that you could bake without them. I thought they were essential.
Reader: I was wrong.
(An aside: Have I ever told you that I wasn't allowed to take Home Economics at GCSE level in school? Nope. We boys had to do Craft and Design, which I was bitter about for years. I'm over the sexism now though. On reflection neither subject has really shaped my life anyway, and having done CDT at least I know how to use a lathe and make egg cups using a vacuum former. I'm such a manly baker...)
Back to the eggs: I've heard about this eggless baking lark, and it seems like all the cool kids are doing it. But up until now I've resisted. Some of the recipes call for ingredients that I'd have to buy from ultra pricey health shops (I have a bad habit of spending more money than is reasonable in those places - manuka honey anybody?), or wouldn't use for anything else afterwards (like skimmed milk powder for instance). But then I chanced upon a Depression Era cake recipe on a brilliant little blog I follow, Let Her Bake Cake.
It has no eggs or butter in it, and yet still looks like one of the best chocolate cakes you could ever make. And even better, all the ingredients are cheap, store cupboard staples that I had in the house anyway. I was all set to become one of the cool kids; it would be just like when I was given my first shell suit.
As a result, I am extending an open invitation to The Cool Kids' Club to all of you, in the hope that you too will try these out. I am not vegan, and I don't avoid eggs generally (which is good, because Mr. Other P adds eggs to everything - curry, pasta, noodles, you name it.), but I am planning on making these again. They are not only the simplest cupcakes I have ever made ( and ridiculously so), but also the cheapest. I'll be honest - warm from the oven, I could detect a slight after taste of bicarbonate of soda, but once the cakes had cooled, it completely vanished. I can't wait to try out some different variations of the recipe and am thinking lemon first and foremost.
I have tinkered with the original recipe to make these spiced chocolate cupcakes, since they are for the Queen of the Spice Trail, and also completely changed the method used to make them. Mainly because I was making cupcakes, and not a sheet cake. But also because I like to simplify. It's OK, you can trust me; like I said before, I can operate a lathe.
I don't care if you are vegan, eat eggs, have allergies or don't even like cupcakes. Tell me that this isn't the most perfectly topped cupcake you've ever seen. You can't, can you?
My frosting is not vegan. It is cream cheese. But my friend Lucy used to run a company that made allergy-friendly cakes, so I stole her vegan butter cream recipe for those of you who are anti-lactose. You must decide for yourself which one to use.
I metricated the recipe: love me, love me.
Chocolate Spice Cupcakes
You will need:
225g plain flour
150g caster sugar (or granulated)
35g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
75ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar (use whatever type you have)
2 tsp ground allspice
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line a cupcake tin with 12 paper liners.
- In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients gently. You can use a wire whisk.
- Add everything else, and whisk to mix everything to a smooth, lump free batter. It will be very liquid.
- Transfer the batter to a jug, and pour into cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Remove from pan immediately and cool on a wire rack. Then ice with your choice of frosting. That's right - you have a choice:
Allspice Cream Cheese Frosting
You will need:
100g cream cheese
400g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp ground allspice
- This was going to be green cardamom cream cheese frosting, but my pods were all dried up. I was devastated, but adapted the recipe and like it this way anyway. Cream the butter and cream cheese together, and slowly mix in the sugar until you get the consistency you like.
- Stir in the spice, and use immediately. This is a lovely, thick, rich icing. Enjoy it!
Lucy and Nuria's Vegan Version
You will need:
100g soy margarine
250g icing sugar
1 tsp allspice
- Cream everything together using a wooden spoon; that's it! (This is such a great icing.)