I have always loved The Great British Bake Off. It is one of the only TV programmes I am committed to watching year on year! So this year, during my first year of veganism, I had a mild panic (yes panic) that it wouldn’t be relevant to me anymore – all of those butter and egg and cream filled recipes that I can no longer try out. It occurred to me that there has been very little in the way of experimentation with dairy-free baking on the show, which isn’t much fun for the health-conscious, eco-friendly or lactose-intolerant folk.
So instead of sulking, I have decided to take on the ultimate #veganbakeoffchallenge. Every week whilst The Great British Bake Off is on, I will attempt to create a dairy-free version of the Signature Bake remaining as close to the original criteria as possible. I’ll be testing my recipes out on friends and colleagues over the next ten weeks to show how baking can be healthy and simple and delicious all at the same time, with no dairy products in sight.
Week 1: Madiera Cake
According to Mary Berry, a madeira cake is a close-textured, plain cake, with a firm yet light texture. It should be delicately flavoured and have a dome and a crack on the top. Instead of the traditional lemon, I’ve decided to flavor my madeira cake with orange and apple:
Vegan Orange and Apple Madiera Cake
- 200g unsweetened apple puree*
- 60ml coconut oil
- 150g coconut sugar**
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tbsp juice from an orange
- Zest from 1/2 orange
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar***
- 180g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- A pinch of salt
* I used home-made apple puree which is really easy and ensures there is no added sugar. 200g of puree requires 2 apples (cored, peeled & chopped), simmered for 10 minutes in 125ml boiling water with 1 tbsp lemon juice, then pureed with a hand blender.
** You can use normal granulated sugar here but for maximum health benefits try to use coconut sugar or unrefined cane sugar – standard sugar has had chemicals added to it which strip it of any nutrients.
*** Apple cider vinegar is a brilliant ingredient for baking and helps to create the dome effect – a chemical reaction takes place between the acid from the vinegar and the bicarbonate of soda, creating carbon dioxide gas which gives a little oomph to the cake. Exciting! If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, lime juice should do the trick.
- Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees C.
- Whisk together the apple puree, oil, sugar, vanilla essence, and orange juice and zest in a mixing bowl until well-combined.
- Add the apple cider vinegar to the wet mixture before sieving in the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda & salt).
- Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet without over-mixing to create a light batter, and pour the batter into an oiled 9-inch loaf tin.
- Bake for around 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool before slicing.
And here are the results! A simple and tasty madiera cake with a dome and crack that would make Mary Berry proud: