A month to the day to that I moved to Montreal and in with my best friend, he passed away suddenly. He was always on the lookout for fun, let me tell you. We fought light-heartedly about everything, including his obsession with fun. In honour of him and everything we had, I make a rainbow cake for every birthday of his that passes. Maybe you have a desire to make a cake that knocks people off their feet but don’t want to learn fancy piping techniques? Well, here you go.
This cake is moist, scented with orange (because I just couldn’t fathom eating any more vanilla cake; I don’t have a vegan recipe that I really LOVE just yet) and probably the most exciting cake you could ever cut into. It can be prepared as I did, as cupcakes or in 6 separate layers (as I have done in the past). I am currently working to develop a lighter version of a vegan vanilla cake, which often times feels impossible. If you’re just starting out vegan baking, I really don’t recommend you start with vanilla – go for almost anything else. As it stands, people love this cake – I’m just fussy and forever striving for more, better, perfect… On the other hand, I have made the perfect buttercream. Yep.
I’m torn between appreciating the separate layer approach and the unique never-the-same-twice look of the swirls I did this year. They are absolutely equal amounts of work, though you may finish baking faster if you go with the latter look. Make with regular old wheat flour, if you’d like. All my baking is set up to work both ways.
Adapted from Chef Chloe’s Raspberry Tiramisu Cupcake recipe
1 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used a combo of rice and soy; it was just kicking around my fridge)
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (go high quality, I beg you)
3 cups all purpose gluten free flour (Mine, sifted)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of one naval orange
3/4 cup non-dairy margarine, chilled and cut into chunks
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line each round cake pan you are going to be using with parchement. I did two layers, so two pans. You’re doing 6 layers, so 6 pans (or as many as you have and be prepared to repeat this process as needed).
In a small bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk and vinegar. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and zest, until thoroughly combined. Using a hand or stand mixer, add the pieces of margarine, one at a time and with relative patience, until the mixture has the texture of wet sand (hopefully not the colour because that’d be weird). Add the vanilla extract to your milk mixture and then slowly, while still mixing on low, add the liquid to the dry. Mix until incorporated, checking to make sure the side and bottom of the bowl have been taken care of. Now mentally prepare yourself for some arts-and-crafts!!
Most recipes will tell you to have six same size bowls and to divide the batter evenly between them. If you are lucky enough to have six same-size mixing bowls, please go ahead and do that. I live in an apartment with no counter or accessible cupboard space, so this is impossible. I took three bowls and divided half the mixture evenly between them. Starting with indigo, I dyed the first layer using red and blue food colouring. Pour the indigo layer into the pans you are using. The batter is pretty thick, so I spread it out evenly and smoothly with the back of a tablespoon. Repeat the dying and spreading of the batter until you have covered the rainbow.
Protip: Reuse the same bowl for colours that use the same primary colour. Example: My yellow bowl easily became the orange bowl with more batter and few drops of red.
If you have made a swirly layer cake, bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. For a six layer cake, bake for about 15 minutes. Let cool and prepare your frosting.
Vanilla Bean Frosting
1 1/2 cups non-dairy margarine, softened
1 vanilla bean, scraped
3 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
Get your mixers ready. Using a hand mixer and great strength or a stand mixer, whip the margarine for about 5 minutes. It will become like satin and take on a lighter colour. Add the vanilla bean and mix an additional minute. Slowly begin adding the icing sugar. Add the vanilla extract and splash of the milk. Finish off the icing sugar and mix for another 5 minutes. Taste and add more milk, if you feel the frosting is too dry.
When the layers have completely cooled, frost with a crumb coat. Let that set and frost to your heart’s desire. Allow people to drop at your feet because of your brilliance with food colouring.
To my darling Kyle, we’ll keep the fun and rainbows in life, sometimes only because we must.