Shedding layers this spring with lemon cake (Vegan, Plant Based)

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Spring is a time to shed what no longer serves us. The layers that kept us warm are no longer needed. It’s time to step into the sun and bathe in its warmth. Berries begin to ripen in this beautiful weather and I look forward to heaps of fresh fruit and greens.

When you eat as seasonally as you can you tend to gorge on anything you can get your hands on when it’s in season. Buckets of berries, pounds of tomatoes and handfuls of cherries and peaches come to mind. And when the fruit hits your tongue, it’s an explosion of sweetness and complexity. Flavor you can’t get from strawberries in the middle of December. It’s an exploration of the year and a practice in staying present, enjoying what you have when you have it.

So as we shed our outer layers and look to live more in the present this spring, so too does this naked lemon cake. It’s a celebration of the rebirth of spring. To enjoy with the people you love to create some new memories in this beautiful sun. This cake is completely plant based and full of tart lemon flavor. I dislike cakes that say they’re lemon and wind up tasting like a mouthful of sugar. So this is the most lemony of lemon cakes to highlight the queen of citrus.

Lemonade is my favorite drink to make in the summer. And the beauty of this small, yet tart citrus fruit has always reminded me that spring is here and summer is on the way. It’s the citrus that tides me over until the fresh berries and rhubarb Spring, when the winter has me craving something fresh and vibrant.

I’m not going to lie, this cake is a bit time consuming but 100% worth the effort. Especially to celebrate such an occasion as the beginnings of spring after winter. It’s the perfect centerpiece to your Easter celebration too, if that’s your jam.

Feel free to switch up the cake flavors something new and exciting as well. Such as orange or lime. Or you can just enjoy the cake for what it is, a true testament to spring and all things lemon.

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Lemon Cake (adapted from The Curios Chickpea)

yields 2-8”cakes

1 1/2 tsp (20g) Lemon juice

2 1/4 C (540g) Plant milk (I used homemade soy milk)

3 C +2 Tbsp (420 g) All purpose flour

zest of 4 lemons

1 Tbsp (12g) Baking Powder

1 tsp (5g) Baking Soda

1/2 tsp (10g) salt

1 1/2 C+2 Tbsp (340g) sugar (make sure its bone char free!)

3/4 C (164g) vegetable oil (try a good quality olive oil for a fun twist!)

1 tsp (15g) vanilla

Lemon Curd

(adapted from Minimalist Baker)

14 oz can of coconut cream

1/4 tsp tumeric (optional for color)

2 tbsp lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 Tbsp corn starch

2 Tbsp maple syrup

Vanilla Icing

(From Baby Cakes cookbook)

1.5 C Soy milk

1/2 C+2 Tbsp soy milk powder

1 Tbsp coconut flour

1/4 C Maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

1.5 C melted coconut oil

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

For the cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line 2-8” cake tins with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

start by adding the lemon juice to the non-dairy milk of your choice in a large mixing bowl and set aside for around 5 minutes to curdle. While you are waiting mix together all of the dry ingredients (including lemon zest) except the sugar in a smaller mixing bowl.

Mix the remaining ingredients into the milk to combine (the oil may not combine all the way and that is okay.) Go ahead and add all of your dry ingredients to the wet and whisk together until the batter is smooth. Try your best not to over-mix, your batter will have pieces of lemon zest in it and this is okay.

Bake for approximated 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown, checking after 20 minutes. The cakes should be brown, spring back to the touch and a toothpick in the center should come out clean. Cool completely before removing from the tins. Once removed from the tins wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in the freezer.

We are placing them in the freezer to make them easier to level and slice in half later. Cutting them at room temperature is possible but can get messy so freezing them is recommended. Freezing them also means you can make these cakes ahead of time and assemble them later.

For the Lemon Curd

whisk together all of the ingredients into a medium sauce pan except for corn starch and 1/2 the lemon juice.

Bring this mixture to a light boil over medium low heat, whisking constantly to prevent burning. Once it is lightly boiling/bubbling mix together the lemon juice and the corn starch. Continue mixing as you add your cornstarch mixture slowly. Once added continue to whisk until thickened and you can no longer taste any starch.

Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, placing the plastic wrap directly onto the curd so a skin doesn’t form. Cool completely in the fridge before using.

When ready to use just give the curd a quick stir.

For the Icing

In a blender or food processor, combine the soy milk, soy milk powder, coconut flour, maple syrup and vanilla to taste. Blend the ingredients for 2 minutes until mixed together. With the machine running on low alternate adding the oil and the lemon juice until fully incorporated. Pour mix into an airtight container and refrigerate for 6 hours or for up to 1 month.

To assemble:

Layering a cake can be tricky if you’ve never done it before so I suggest following a great Youtube video like this one to get a better idea of how to do it. Because there are so many resources out there for your I’m not going to detail step by step what to do for this. Instead checkout the linked video or find a process that works for you.

The two big differences between what you see in the video and how I made my cake are these. Instead of just filling my cakes with frosting/icing I piped a border around the outside of my cake to prevent the curd from leaking out the sides before filling them with the curd. I also stopped at what is described in the linked video as a “crumb coat”. Thus making this cake “Naked”

Top with whatever you desire, I went for delicious organic berries but you can also use candied lemons, edible flowers, fancy chocolate work, whatever your heart desires.

Also please note that although I made a layer cake with these recipes you can also half the cake recipe, slice the finished cake in half and just fill it with lemon curd and dust it with powdered sugar. Or you can just make lemon curd and find a delicious store bought plant-based cake to layer into a delicious parfait or layered dessert in a glass. Let your imagination go wild!

Happy Spring!

Ali Lawrence