After all these years of baking vegan cakes and cupcakes, I am still amazed at how easy it is to eliminate animal products like butter, cream and egg and still get a perfectly moist, airy and beautiful result. All of it minus that awful egg odor. If you don't believe me, all you have to do is try this cake.
Lemon and poppy seed are a classic combination, and just one bite of this amazing cake will tell you why. I used Meyer lemons which have a distinctive flavor and are sweeter than your average lemon, but it's perfectly fine to use regular lemons instead. You could even try substituting other fruit juices.
This is a great base recipe to create cakes of all flavors. You could, for instance, substitute the lemon juice and zest with orange and get a great orange bundt cake. Or you might try another fruit juice. This cake is very much like a pound cake, with a buttery crumb and a melt-in-the-mouth texture. I also used unbleached cake flour to get a particularly light texture. Cake flour is very low in gluten, so you don't have to worry about your cake getting tough, the way it could with higher gluten flours like all-purpose flour. If you can't get cake flour, use all-purpose but replace two tablespoons in each cup with cornflour.
You could also use whole-wheat pastry flour to make this cake. It will be darker and the crumb will be thicker, but you'd still have a great cake (and one that's slightly healthier too).
Gotta run now, but here's the recipe. Enjoy!
Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze
(Makes 16 servings)
2 2/3 cup unbleached cake flour (If you don't have cake flour, all-purpose would be okay but replace 5 tbsp of the all-purpose flour with cornflour. You can also make this with whole-wheat pastry flour but the crumb will be thicker.)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups vegan cane sugar or turbinado sugar
1 3/4 cup almond milk or soymilk mixed with 2 tsp vinegar. Set aside five minutes to curdle.
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup poppy seeds, lightly toasted in a skillet. Do this over medium heat and stir frequently. It should take no more than five minutes.
Zest of two lemons
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) of vegan "butter" like Earth Balance, at room temperature
Cream together the sugar and "butter" in a stand mixer or hand mixer fitted with a wisk, until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of bowl a couple of times during the mixing.
Mix the lemon juice, zest, vanilla extract and almond milk.
Sift into a bowl the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder
Add the flour to the butter and sugar mixture in three batches, alternating with the almond milk mixture. Mix for 20 seconds after each addition, then scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything's integrated.
Add the poppy seeds and mix with a spatula to disperse them evenly through the batter.
Oil and flour a bundt cake pan. Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out dry. Let the cake stand in the bundt pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold. This cake unmolds easily, but if you need help run a knife lightly and carefully around the edges.
With a toothpick, make a few holes in the warm cake and then paint on the lemon glaze (recipe follows) with a brush. Cool thoroughly.
For the lemon glaze
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
With a wisk, mix the lemon juice and sugar.
Paint the glaze onto the cake using a pastry brush. You can even just pour it on.
Decorate the cake with some lemon zest, for a pretty look.
Nutrition estimate per serving: Calories 275, Total fat 12.8 grams, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 160.4 mg, Dietary Fiber 0.8 grams, Sugar 19.2 grams, Protein 2.5 grams
If you like citrusy cakes, have you tried my fail-safe Orange Cake?
Say No to Horse-Carriage Rides in New York City and Elsewhere
There have been a number of media articles in recent weeks about efforts by animal-rights activists to stop New York City's abhorrent horse-drawn carriages, after the deaths of two horses who literally dropped dead while ferrying passengers around the city's clogged streets.
If you've ever been to New York, you will not have missed these horse carriages (and hopefully you knew better than to ride in one). But if you haven't you would find it hard to imagine the sight of these poor animals, blinkers on, forced to walk around pulling hundreds of pounds for at least nine hours each day, seven days a week, ferrying passengers through the din, pollution, and unbearable hustle of New York's infamous traffic.
It is also hard to imagine that leaders of this, one of the world's greatest cities, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, still believe that they need this archaic display of animal cruelty to draw in tourists. If anything, it makes me never want to visit again.
To my mind, horses symbolize freedom. To condemn these beautiful creatures to a life of slavery and suffering is not just wrong, it should be a crime. Unfortunately, New York City is not alone. I wrote a few years back about Charleston's horrendous horse carriages which really ruined my visit to this otherwise beautiful town in South Carolina.
The horses pay a heavy price for our "entertainment." Many suffer respiratory ailments, not surprising given that they are inhaling noxious exhaust fumes all day, and some turn lame because of walking constantly on the hard pavement. At the end of a long, hard day the horses are returned to crowded stables where they are packed in, with no recourse to roam free for even a short time. They have no pastures where they can graze, or socialize with other animals. The next morning it's back to the streets and hard labor and on and on until they die an early death or are put down.
Animal rights activists in New York City, including the ASPCA, have been fighting to have the horse carriages banned and they have been making steady progress, but I wanted to share this with you too in the hope that you will contribute your own power as consumers. All you have to do is say no to horse rides that are common "tourist attractions" in cities around the world.
There's so much to see and do in New York City or in Charleston or in just about any place on earth. There is absolutely no need to sully your visit or vacation with a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, pulled by a sentient animal who will never know what it's like to be happy.
Picture from ASPCA