seitan is my motor



June 2014



Vegan Lemon Cream Cake

lemon cream cake |

“This cake. I could eat it all by myself.” That is what my co-worker said after tasting this lemon cream cake. A well deserved compliment as I made this cake six times. I wanted it to be perfect.

“Six?” My co-workers looked at me weirdly and doubtfully. “Why are you doing that?” Well, I might have been a tiny bit obsessed by an idea I had in my head. I needed a really good sponge cake. Something not too moist and not too dry. I needed exactly the right consistency, not too crumbly but also not too dense. Perfect for slicing but also perfect for eating. And my sixth cake was exactly the way I had wanted it to be. But it was not only the cake that had to be perfect. I wanted a perfect topping, too. I had set my mind on an almond cream topping but no matter how much I tweaked my recipe, it just didn’t turn out the way I wanted it. The consistency was always wrong. For my last cake I gave up and placed a can of coconut milk in the fridge. The next day I was going to make a simple coconut whipped cream with only four ingredients: coconut cream, sugar, lemon, and vanilla. But that didn’t happen. My coconut milk didn’t set. At that point I was about to throw the damn cake out of the window.

But then I remembered that in Germany people make their whipped cream toppings with whipping cream stabiliser. It is a mix of starches and it will help the cream keep its shape for cakes and decorations. And it makes vegan whipped cream, too. We have liquid vegan cream that can be whipped with the help of a stabiliser. I still never use this product because I hear it’s not super common outside of Europe and I want my recipes to be accesible. Plus, my father makes the most amazing cream cakes without ever touching an envelope of that magic powder. So I used to think that it’s unnecessary. But sometimes I change my opinion. Especially when I need to save a runny frosting. Because I wanted my cake. So I looked up the ingredients. The mix of starches and thickeners looked very similar to what was printed on the back of my egg-replacer box. A product I also hardly use. But this time it made my topping fabulous and my cake perfect.

I know the ingredient list for this topping now looks a little bit complicated. You could probably do without it and make a simple coconut whipped cream to top your cake with. But it will not be the same. This lemon coconut cream the opposite of a buttercream frosting: it is light and fresh, only slightly sweet and tastes exactly the way I think a cream topping should taste. The lemon masks some of the coconut flavour and has a more complex flavour than coconut whipped cream. And it goes so well with that sponge cake!

Variation for a fabulous vanilla cake: Replace 100 g sugar (1/2 cup) with 100 g (1 cup sifted) home-made vanilla sugar and leave out the lemon zest. Make the topping with soy milk instead of lemon juice and use vanilla sugar instead of powdered sugar.

vegan lemon cream cake |


Lemon Cream Cake (1 8 inch or 20 cm springform pan)


For the cake:
240 ml (1 cup) soy milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
250g (1 and 1/4 cups) sugar
120 g (1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons) softened refined coconut oil
300 g (2 and 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground vanilla
zest of one large lemon

For the topping:
60 ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice
1 teaspoon agar agar powder
1 (400 ml) can coconut milk
60 g (1/2 cup unsifted) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons egg replacer (I use Orgran No-Egg)
25 g (3 tablespoons) cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground vanilla

The day before prepare the cake: Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Grease and flour a 20 cm (8 inch) springform pan and set aside.

Pour soymilk into a bowl and add vinegar and whisk together.

Combine sugar and coconut oil and use a hand-held mixer to whip. Whip until light and fluffy, which can take 2-5 minutes.

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix and then add soymilk mixture and remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. This works best with a hand-held mixer as the cake batter will be very thick and stiff. Please do not add more liquid, the batter has to be that stiff. Also try not to over-mix the cake.

Pour into prepared cake pan and bake for 40-43 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Release the cake with the help of a knife: Run the knife around the edge and carefully open the pan. Set aside over night, you can cover it with foil if you like.

On the next day carefully slice the cake into two layers and prepare the filling:

Place the lemon juice in a small saucepan. Whisk in the agar agar and bring to a boil. Cook for two minutes and remove from heat. Pour the coconut milk into a tall and narrow bowl. Add agar mixture and mix well. Place in the freezer for 45 minutes to cool. It should have a light but firm mouuse when you remove it.

Add remaining ingredients and beat for two minutes. The topping should now have a thick but runny consistency. Place in the freezer for another hour.

When you remove it,  it should have thickened a bit more but will still be very spreadable. It should look like only slightly whipped whipped cream. Spread half of the topping on top of bottom cake layer. Carefully place the second layer on top and cover the rest of the cake with the topping. Place in the fridge for at least two hours before serving. Use a very sharp knife to carefully slice the cake.

vegan lemon cream cake |



June 2014



Coconut Lye Pretzels with Nigella

Brezeln |

A couple of days ago I was sitting outside with a neighbour while the kids hung out in the paddling pool. We were complaining about the heat and how our flats got hotter and hotter by the minute. She said she tried to avoid cooking because of the additional heat that a hot oven would produce. I then told her that I was doing the opposite because this kind of weather was the best weather for baking. When the heat wave started I stirred together a new batch of sourdough starter. And I made lye pretzels. Because when it’s 26°C in your kitchen you cannot mess up a yeast dough. Although I really am the first person to complain about  high temperatures outside and inside, I am also glad for this opportunity to get back into baking. More boring bread posts will for sure follow.

Laugenbrezeln aka. soft pretzels made with lye have always been a favourite baked good of mine. You can read a lot of stuff online about how dangerous it is to make your own lye pretzels at home. People love to recommend baking soda as a safe and easy substitute. But I am still not convinced. No, I really don’t think pretzels made with baking soda taste like those made with lye. Sue me.

The lye you use for baking pretzels is called sodium hydroxide. I have written a long post before about how to use the lye. You can read all about it here. Working with sodium hydroxide is really not that dangerous in my opinion, if you keep in mind a couple of precautions: Wear gloves and long sleeves, avoid skin and eye contact, and keep children and animals out of the way.

Laugenbrezeln are usually made with white flour and water and even though I am all about tradition when it comes to using lye, I am not as strict when it comes to the ingredients. So I made a richer and slightly more nutritious version with coconut milk and a little bit of whole spelt flour. And since everyone in this family usually scrapes off the salt before eating their pretzel, I made my pretzels without salt. It was replaced by aromatic nigella seeds (also called kalonji or black caraway), which made these pretzels really special.

Brezeln |


Coconut Lye Pretzels with Nigella (makes ten)


250 g (2 cups plus 1 tablespoon) all-purpose flour
250 g (2 cups plus 1 tablespoon) whole spelt flour
1 envelope instant yeast (7 g)
150 ml (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) coconut milk, luke warm
150 ml (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) water, luke warm
10 g ( 2 teaspoon) salt

30-40 g food grade sodium hydroxide granules
1 litre water

nigella seeds for sprinkling


Combine the flours and mix well. Add yeast, liquid and salt. Knead well for 5-6 minutes. Place in a bowl and let rest for 1 hour, until doubled in size.

Wear gloves and long sleeves while carefully preparing the lye: Add cold water to a large pot. Dissolve the sodium hydroxide in the water. I used a wooden spoon for stirring. It is important to put the sodium hydroxide into the water and not the other way round! (You will cause a violent reaction if you pour water over the lye granules.) Set aside and make sure there are no kids or animals near the solution.

Preheat the oven to 220°C (428°F). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 10 equally sized pieces. Roll each into a 65 cm (25.6 inches) long log. The middle of this log should be thicker than the ends. (You can see how they are shaped here.) Brush the ends with water, shape into pretzels and place on a baking sheet.

Put on gloves again and use a silicone brush to brush the pretzels with your prepared lye solution. Sprinkle the nigella seeds on top and slash the thick part of the pretzel with a sharp knife. Let rise for 10 minutes, then bake until browned, for 16 minutes. Let cool completely.

Note: Store the lye solution in a glass jar for another batch of pretzels or use it to clean your plug holes. Make sure to store it in a safe place. Keep it away from children and animals and make sure to label it! To protect your skin and eyes always wear gloves while handling the solution.

Brezeln |

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