So I admit, I was sceptical. Vegan cake, sans eggs and butter? Reeaally? Does dairy-free, in the context of baking, equal taste-free? I decided to make these to see for myself. The recipe comes from the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World book, where it is titled Golden Vanilla Cupcakes. Nothing at all wrong with that name, but I have taken the liberty of changing it in honour of the forthcoming Tim Burton film and the fact that I have just booked tickets to see it in all its awe-inspiring 3D glory at the IMAX :). These would certainly make a fantastical centrepiece for a Mad Hatter’s tea party, especially if you decorated them with an excess of coloured icing and sprinkles.
They have a springier texture than your average cupcake – think along the lines of a muffin (unsurprisingly, since they’re made with oil) – but the crumb is fine and as long as you get your flavouring right, they could give the most animal-fat-laden cake a run for its money in the taste stakes.
I iced them with ‘buttercream’ made using soya spread and icing sugar, with a dash of vanilla. In place of the vanilla you could try incorporating melted dark chocolate or sieved cocoa, citrus zest, or some crushed berries.
Vegan Alice in Wonderland Cupcakes
1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
0.33 cup canola oil (I used rapeseed) or 0.5 cup margarine/soya spread
1.25 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons cornflour
0.75 teaspoon baking powder
0.5 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
0.5 teaspoon salt (0.25 teaspoon if you’re using margarine/soya spread)
0.75 cup caster sugar
2.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line cake pan with cupcake cases. Whisk the soy milk with the vinegar and allow it to stand for a few minutes so it curdles.
Beat together the oil, soy milk mixture, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornflour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and mix until no lumps remain – I found I had to strain my mixture to eliminate lumps; please do let me know if you have a better way of solving this problem! The batter was quite runny so I used a jug to pour it into the cupcake cases.
Fill cases two-thirds of the way and bake for 20-22 minutes. Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack and let them get completely cold before decorating.