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To treat ourselves on this special occasion of MSV's first anniversary, we started with a decadent chocolate cake and topped it with a very nontraditional, but lavish in its own way, frosting. In order to keep the cake the star here, the mimosa creamsicle frosting is light, incredibly silky, and the sweetness is toned down from traditional icings to ensure the orange and sparkling wine flavors aren't drowned out by sugar. Rest assured, the mixture is still thick for easy frosting, and the crumb coat hardens perfectly in the freezer.

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Now for something extra. You may have noticed Market Street Vegan doesn't talk about the why(s) of veganism, but about the how. Or our version of it, anyway. Plants are good, and good for you, and there are so crazy-many of them, you'll never want for variety. And while it's important for us to provide context for the dishes here--food you can't smell or taste without committing to making it yourself--we avoid stories about how we come up with ideas for recipes, because zzzzz. But today we're getting indulgent. 

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The original idea for MSV's anniversary cake was totally different from this. It was scrapped so we could do something bigger: indulge in chocolate and sparkling wine and lots of words. Week after week, without comment, the recipes on MSV never contain animal products. We're so busy appreciating plants for what they are, there's no need to mention what they aren't. But today, we explicitly say this cake doesn't include animal products. Because, of course, lots of cakes do. Most baked goods contain cows' milk and chickens' eggs, products commonly considered harmless because the animals farmed to produce them can do so for a few years before being slaughtered after their productivity drops. 

Even if these farmed animals are kept under the most generous of conditions, the farming process always involves killing, and it's easy never to think much about, or even to avoid learning at all, a few facts:

1. Cows are mammals, and like other mammals, they lactate to feed their young. To induce and sustain milk production, we impregnate them repeatedly. Therefore, lactating cows necessarily have multiple offspring that must be dealt with. While female calves can be turned into dairy cows, male calves would literally eat the profits of their mothers' milk if allowed to live. These calves are slaughtered for veal and rennet (made from the calves' digestive enzymes--we use it in cheese production). 

2. Likewise, allowing lots of roosters to live would be prohibitively expensive in producing chickens' eggs, since only hens lay eggs. Most male chicks at hatcheries are killed, sometimes ground into feed for other farmed animals. 

3. These products are harsh in other ways, too. The environmental effects of cattle in particular are terrible due to increased water use, plus waste and methane production. And that's before you get to land needs. First, the animals themselves need more ground than plants. Further, we use many times more land growing crops to feed those animals before eating them or their secretions than we would need to grow plants for us to eat directly. 

If you find any of those facts affecting but can't imagine giving up your brunch omelet or creme fraiche, then please consider making a difference where you won't even notice one: in your baked goods. Before you next reach for your old muffin recipe, check out a celebrated, reliable, free resource for alternatives.

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Baking is not an animal-dependent mystery. Protein provides structure, sugar tenderizes and sweetens, fat tenderizes and satiates, and the introduction of air leavens. A variety of nondairy milks are available in most of this town's large grocers, or if you have a few spare minutes, any device that blends stuff, and internet access, tutorials abound on how to easily make your own. The effects of buttermilk can be duplicated by adding vinegar. Your pancakes and cupcakes and cookies won't suffer. And seriously, even tofu in dessert is--promise--not weird. As with any tool or ingredient, you learn what works.  

Generally, the problem with veganism as an alternative diet isn't the "veganism" part, but the "alternative" bit. Cultures operate around and perpetuate customs, habits, and the idea of changing those routines is far more daunting than doing the actual cooking. But isn't habit a monstrous reason to take lives? 

This is ideally what MSV communicates in every post: there are options , and an abundance of them. Please consider trying some of those options, looking for those opportunities when animal products are used only out of habit. Baked goods are an easy, seriously pleasurable place to start. 

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Chocolate Layer Cake with Mimosa Creamsicle Frosting

Print the recipe

makes 1 6-inch cake 

For the cake , from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World via Chow.com

1 cup nondairy milk (we used homemade almond-oat)

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice) 

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup cake flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder (Equal Exchange is available at Three Rivers Market

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.  

Whisk together the wet ingredients (milk through vanilla). Set aside while you grease and flour two 6-inch cake pans. Set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients (flour through salt). Whisk half the dry ingredients into the wet. Add the remaining flour mixture and whisk to create a smooth batter in as few strokes as possible. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake until a tester comes out clean, 24-26 minutes.

Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge and turn the cakes out onto the rack, turn over, and let cool completely. Chill until ready to frost, if needed.  

For the Mimosa Creamsicle Frosting

1 12-oz package firm silken tofu

1/2 cup melted refined coconut oil

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

2 TBSP sparkling wine

pinch salt

zest of 1 orange, divided

1/3 cup Mimosa Reduction, recipe follows

Reserve half of the orange zest and transfer to an airtight container. Puree all other ingredients until very smooth. Chill 8 hours or more. 

For the Mimosa Reduction :

juice of 1 orange (about 1/3 cup)

1 cup sparkling wine

Combine ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 30 minutes. (To measure, pour 1/3 cup water into your sauce pan before you begin, and mark the level on a ruler or utensil handle. Remove the water and proceed with the recipe.) 

To assemble :

Level the bottom layer as needed. Spread on a thick layer of frosting, add the top layer, and spread a very thin layer of frosting over the cake. Transfer to the freezer for 15 minutes. Continue frosting and garnish with reserved orange zest.

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Thanks for reading, this and every week. We'll be back to normal next week with something shorter and lighter.