Every special occasion needs a stunning cake, right?
With Valentine’s Day coming up soon I thought it would be fun to make something that could be versatile enough that you can make it all year long, but also good for your Valentine. The secret ingredient is something I never would have expected until the first time I tried it, but might be familiar to you if you do much plant-based cooking. It’s a little something called aquafaba (aka bean water). I know, it sounds strange and even a little gross but it whips up unbelievably well and adds the fluffy volume that makes this cake light and airy.
As for the decoration, I kept that really simple too. I love to decorate a cake sometimes, but then there are other times when I’m rushed and just want to put a cake together quickly, you know? I’ve gotta tell you, fresh flowers are like the best hack there is for those times.
So as I talked about, this cake is really simple but there are a few extra things that can make all the difference between a fluffy cake and a tough, dense, or unevenly baked cake. I typically just list the instructions in the recipe but in this case I wanted to add a some tips for success if any of you are interested.
Tip #1: Actually sift the dry ingredients:
Okay, so I’m the first one to admit to cutting corners on some recipes and just throwing everything into to bowl thinking it doesn’t make a difference. Some recipes will let you get away with that, but this one will not. Sifting flour is something I used to always skip but it really helps in the recipe. Which brings me to…
Tip #2: Do things in the correct order:
If you add the dry ingredients before the wet then you’ll risk losing a lot of volume from the whipped aquafaba when you do add the wet. Also, if you don’t whip the aquafaba stiff in the first place you’ll also lose volume, and that’s a great segue into…..
Tip #3: Do your best not to over mix:
It might seem like you should make sure everything is really well mixed all the time, but in this case you want to almost try to leave some little lumps of flour in the batter. Don’t worry, as it bakes it will even out and leave some small little air pockets that help give you that lightness. Wheat flour will also develop gluten if you mix it too much which will end up in a dense or tough texture that nobody wants.
Tip #4: Bake as soon as possible after mixing:
This cake uses a little bit more baking powder than you might usually see in a cake recipe but it really helps the cake rise. It’s important, however, that the lemon juice and other ingredients react well with it and if leave the batter setting out very long it will react before baking and you won’t get as good of a lift.
Tip #5: Don’t open the oven door until it’s done:
I know it’s so tempting, but it really does affect the end result if you keep messing up the temperature in there and not letting the cake do it’s thing. Use your oven light if you’ve got one and if not just practice your patience and at least wait until it’s been in about 35 minutes before checking it.
Alright, now that I’ve gone over all the tips I can think of it’s time to get baking. Please feel free to ask if you have any problems or questions. I’ll do my best to get back to you asap.
Triple Layer Vanilla Velvet Valentine Cake
While this cake is definitely a great treat to prepare for Valentines's Day, it's also a perfect cake for all occasions from birthdays to anniversaries.
- 1 cup aquafaba liquid from 2 cans cooked chickpeas
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup organic vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup coconut oil (or organic vegetable shortening) ,melted
- 1/4 cup applesauce can sub pumpkin puree if you don't mind a little more golden color
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 cups flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and line 3 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Pour aquafaba into bowl of stand mixer and beat until its begins to look light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Slowly drizzle in sugar while beating on high and continue until it forms stiff peaks (it should take about 5 more minutes). In separate bowl, stir together the lemon juice, applesauce, melted coconut oil, oil, and extracts.
Now, while continuing to beat the aquafaba mixture, slowly pour in the liquids and beat just until evenly combined (the volume of fluffiness will fall a bit but don't worry, it was still worth it for the end result).
Now in another separate bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking powder. Remove the mixing bowl from the mixer and add the sifted dry ingredients. Use a large spatula to gently fold in the ingredients just until fairly combined. (It's actually better to leave some small lumps then to overmix and lose volume.)
Divide batter into the pans as evenly as possible. Bake for 30-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and edges are lightly golden. Remove the cakes from oven and cool completely before frosting. (I prefer to cover them and place them in the freezer for at least an hour.)
Beat "butter" in a large mixing bowl until creamed. Add vanilla and almond extract, salt, and powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add milk beat until light and fluffy. You may need to add more milk as needed for frosting consistency to be light and fluffy.
Once cakes are cooled, use a sharp knife to loosen the sides and gently remove cakes from pans. Peel off the parchment and place one of the layers on your desired plate or tray. Spread a layer of the frosting on top and top with a second layer of cake. Repeat layering cake and frosting for each layer until the top layer is frosted.
Spread a generous amount of frosting on the sides of the cake and use a cake spatula to evenly spread it. You can decorate as desired or leave it simple. I chose to simply use a variety of fresh flowers for this cake. It's best to store the cake in something such as a cake dome to prevent it drying out.