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Monday 14 June 2010

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

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...)

Cherry or no cherry? We're going to need a point of comparison for this...

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.

A Comparitive Study of the Relative Beauty of Two Eggless Cupcakes

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
300ml water

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line a cupcake tin with 12 paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients gently. You can use a wire whisk.
  3. Add everything else, and whisk to mix everything to a smooth, lump free batter. It will be very liquid.
  4. Transfer the batter to a jug, and pour into cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full.
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes, until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean.
  6. 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
30g butter
400g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp ground allspice

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. Cream everything together using a wooden spoon; that's it! (This is such a great icing.)


  1. these look amazing and I will definitely try them... I need a winning cupcake recipe for our local village show (don't ask...) and I think the cherry is quite literally the icing on the cake (that really doesn't make sense!)... I was always told a secret for extra moist cakes and that was to put a dollop of mayo into the mix... sounds totally crazy but I promise you it works..


  2. Dom - they are cheap as you like, so perfect for village shows. But if you add mayo, they'll not be eggless anymore.

    Anna - Try them! It's like a science experiment, but with food.

  3. Dear Mr. P

    My mother (who grew up during the depression and WWII) gave me this recipe, and I have been using it on and off for more than 40 years. What a delight to see it on your blog, updated and put to a new and creative use. It is yummy and never fails, and everyone likes it.

    I always read your wonderful blog with great enjoyment - keep up the good work.

    Love from ChaCha

  4. Glad you like my ramblings, Cha Cha! Your comment really made me smile, thank you.

  5. These look DIVINE! I have to make these, and I completely agree, the cherry is a must!!!!

  6. Perfect timing. I have vegan house guests arriving today.

  7. This post made me laugh... and drool. :) They look delicious, and a vegan chocolate cupcake recipe is always a good trick to keep up the sleeve.

    I also love that you commented they were like a science experiment with food, that is my favorite sort of recipe. And, the cherry on the top is perfect.

  8. Cherry is yet the most essential thing on your cupcake..Without it, your cup cake will look like the simple cup cakes over there but because of cherry, oh! it appears very elegant...

  9. Just wanted to let you know that I finally got the ice cream posted if you want to check it out. Everyone who's had it absolutely loved it. Thank you again for such a fantastic recipe.

  10. Just popping back in to tell you that I left you an award over on my blog! :D

  11. I bake without eggs too and never ever miss them!

  12. Cilantropist - thank you! That's so swet of you, your blog is amazing!

    Sunshine - I feel we may be starting an ice-cream revolution. Bring on the mascarpone!

  13. Metricated recipes = <3

    These sound great! I've been doing a little experimenting with eggless stuff, myself, but I don't have a chocolate cake recipe yet... Thanks for passing this along!

    I love that cherry on top! The ones without cherries are darling too, but I just love that classic look :)

  14. They look delicious eggless or not!

  15. Heh, I use that recipe (in traditional "cup of this" format), and I tend to make tiny batches (12 mini cupcakes). When I eat them all at once without sharing it's not that big of a deal. Thanks for the spicy version, we'll try it next time.

  16. I made 'my' version of this cake two days ago. It is a firm favourite in this house, especially because it's so darn easy to make. Next time I might try adding some allspice - very intriguing!

  17. Oops posted that too soon, also meant to say thanks for the shout-out AND I can't wait to try this vegan icing if I can track down the ingredients. I've always been curious about vegan icing...

  18. These look wonderful - and good to rememebr when I have no eggs on hand (which happens too often).

  19. I also got this recipe from a friend who said it was a depression-era cake, and seeing as I am vegan it came in very handy! It's incredible easy to vary...you can sub most anything for the water (coffee, chai tea, orange juice...anything!), add whatever spices you like, and if you want a non-chocolate cake just increase the flour a bit and cut out the cocoa...this is definitely the best cake recipe out there.

  20. ok... I'm excited... going to try my hand at these babies today. Will my cake=egg+butter+stuff equation base be rocked? I'm ready for it.

  21. You, dear sir, are a legend.

  22. Sounds delicious, but for your US fans, could you provide a link to the unmetricated recipe? I can't cook in grams yet. :-)

  23. Great collection of vegan cupcakes with different design. They all adorable and can be serve in any occasions.


That's what he said.

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