I am not becoming a vegan. I am not becoming a vegetarian. I like meat and dairy way too much. (In fact, I'm thinking about getting this t-shirt.)
But maybe -- once in a while -- I can dabble with recipes from the veggie side.
I'd wanted to make a cake using chai (inspired by my lust for these drool-worthy cupcakes and muffins) and, while searching for a recipe, stumbled upon the Susan V's impressive Fatfree Vegan Kitchen.
I know what you're thinking: vegan cooking = malevolent soy & seaweed concoctions. I'm not entirely convinced that's not true, but Susan V's blog goes a long way toward changing that perception. Vindaloo Vegetables? Black-eyed Pea Gumbo? Southwestern Black Bean Potato Salad? Yes, please! (Plus, did you see that NY Times' article on vegan cupcake chef, Chandra Moskowitz? Those cupcakes looked pretty damned good!)
So on Friday night, I baked up Susan V's recipe for Coconut Chai Breakfast Cake. I was, and am, amazed at how well things turned out.
The cake, targeted at breakfast, is more like a muffin (next time, I'll try baking the batter in muffin tins). It's dense, moist, and just sweet enough to satisfy a sweet-breakfast craving. Plus, the recipe lends itself to a bit of playing. Chopped nuts (mmm, pecans), raisins, a bit more almond extract; any one of these (or a combination) would fit into the recipe well.
The cake reminds me of the apple-zucchini-carrot-coconut muffins I'd grab at Amy's Bread on the way to work. Those were so good, and I'm glad to have found a recipe that (though the ingredients aren't the same) reminds of Amy's amazing baking. (Now all I have to do is find the cute paper muffin liners Amy's Bread uses, too.)
A few notes: the spiciness implied by chai in the recipe's title isn't really there. In the recipe, however, Susan V suggests adding more ginger to increase the cake's bite. I had just enough ginger in the pantry to add an 1/8 tsp. more than is called for so, while the cake's flavor has rich depth, I wouldn't call it spicy. (But again, kick up the ginger or even the cinnamon to achieve that goal.)
I substituted rolled oats and apple cider vinegar for quick oats and regular vinegar, respectively, and baked the cake in a 9-inch square pan. I also preferred the cake at room temperature than warm out of the oven.
Coconut Chai Breakfast Cake (slightly adapted)
1 cup strong chai tea
1/3 cup uncooked quick oatmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger (use more for a spicier cake)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup flaked coconut, 2 tbsp reserved
Prepare the chai ahead of time by steeping two teabags one cup of boiling water until cool.
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
Combine the dry ingredients (oatmeal through sugar) in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the chai, applesauce, vinegar, extracts, and all but 2 tablespoons of the coconut. Mix well, and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Sprinkle with the reserved coconut and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 9.
Susan V's nutritional breakdown: 179 Calories; 2g Total Fat; (11% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 38g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 273mg Sodium; 3g Dietary Fiber; 3 Weight Watchers Points.
(Tell me you don't admire a chef who supplies her own nutritional breakdown! Yay, Susan V!)