Happy Birthday to Me!

I love cake and sweets.

How better to commemorate my quarter-century on earth than by bringing in a cake to share with my friends at work?

I wanted to make something impressive and fancy, but also tasty. In other words, I wanted to show off! It’s my day, dammit, so I’m allowed!

I decided to go with the flavour combination of Chocolate Orange – two great tastes that taste great together! I used the Vegan Chocolate cake and Vegan Orange cake recipes from Joy of cooking, as they are both easy and tasty. I made a 10″ (I think) round cake, because I don’t have an appropriately-sized rectangle pan, and I find round cakes require less trimming and waste.

There were two chocolate layers and one orange one, and each layer was split in half and filled. I made a whipped chocolate ganache to fill the orange layer.

I made orange curd for the first time as a filling for the chocolate layers. While I liked the overall texture and flavour of the orange curd, I expected it to be zestier (this could be remedied by substituting more orange juice for the water, and adding some lemon juice). As well, I used a peeler-style zester, which resulted in very long strings of zest. I would recommend using a grater or microplane-style zester instead.

I froze the cakes after making, splitting, and cooling them, since I think vegan cakes tend to stale faster than traditional ones, and I had made them two days in advance.

Everything was assembled with chocolate buttercream, and topped with a dark chocolate glaze. Yummy!

I was also fortunate enough to spend my birthday with my family. Knowing my penchant for carbohydrates, they made me a dinner full of my childhood favourites: macaroni and cheese, greek salad, and garlic bread! For dessert we had an old family favourite, Mud Pie

I felt so loved that my family took the time to get together, and make me dinner, on a work night. You guys are the best!

I especially want to thank my mom and dad for all of the love and guidance they have given me. I know now how lucky I am to have had such a great family life.

Here’s to another year of growth, learning and happiness!

Recipe: Orange-Chocolate Birthday Cake

Chocolate Vegan Cake (from Joy of Cooking) – For the cake I made, I repeated this recipe twice:


– 1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour

– 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Sugar

– 6 tablespoons Cocoa powder

– 1 teaspoon Baking soda

– 1/8 teaspoon Salt

– 1/4 cup Vegetable oil

– 1 cup Cold water

– 1 tablespoon White vinegar

– 2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Prepare a 9 or 10-inch spring form pan by lining with paper and spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Combine dry ingredients and mix on low speed until well “sifted.”
  4. Combine the wet ingredients and add to the dry.
  5. Stir on medium-low speed until smooth.
  6. Scrape into your prepared pan. Drop on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven when a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Cool for 5 minutes on the rack.
  10. Slide a knife around the edges of the pan. Remove the sides of the pan.
  11. Keeping the cake on the parchment paper, slide it off the bottom and on to a cooling rack.
  12. Wait approximately 15 minutes before peeling off the parchment paper liner.
  13. Cut the cake horizontally in half FIRST, then cut off the dome of the top. Doing it in this order gives you a stiffer top half when manipulating them.
  14. Place plastic wrap between the layers (multiple spatulas may come in handy at this point!) to prevent them from sticking back together.
  15. Wrap tightly and freeze, if desired.
  16. When thawing frozen cake, allow to come to almost room temperature (no more condensation on the plastic wrap) before removing the wrappings.

Ultra Orange Cake (from Joy of Cooking):


– 1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour

– 1 cup Sugar

– 1 teaspoon Baking soda

– 1/2 teaspoon Salt

– 1/3 cup Vegetable oil

– 1 cup Orange juice

– Zest from one large orange (about 2 tablespoons)

– 1 tablespoon Cider vinegar

– 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Prepare a 9 or 10-inch spring form pan by lining with paper and spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Combine dry ingredients and mix on low speed until well “sifted.”
  4. Combine the wet ingredients and add to the dry.
  5. Stir on medium-low speed until smooth.
  6. Scrape into your prepared pan. Drop on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven when a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Cool, cut, wrap, and freeze as described above.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache Filling:


– 3/4 cup High-quality coconut milk (gold can, but room-temperature and SHAKEN before opening)

– 160g Dark chocolate chips


  1. Heat the coconut milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, on medium heat.
  2. Once the milk is simmering, remove from the heat.
  3. Pour the hot milk over the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl.
  4. Stir with a spatula until the ganache is a shiny, dark brown.
  5. Chill for an hour or more.
  6. Whip the mixture with the whisk attachment of a stand mixture until the topping is the texture of soft whipped cream
  7. Use to fill the orange cake layers.

Orange Curd Filling (original by Agent Minty):


– 1/2 cup Sugar

– 3 tablespoons Bird’s custard powder

– Zest of 1 large orange

– 1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup Orange juice

– 1 cup Water

– 2 teaspoons Arrowroot powder

– 1 tablespoon Coconut milk


  1. Combine sugar, custard powder, orange zest, and half of the orange juice in a saucepan.
  2. Whisk over low heat until sugar and custard powder are dissolved.
  3. Add the water and stir.
  4. Bring heat to medium under saucepan.
  5. Bring the mixture to a low simmer.
  6. Dissolve the arrowroot powder in the remaining orange juice.
  7. Add the arrowroot-orange juice mixture to the saucepan. Whisk well.
  8. Add the coconut milk.
  9. Whisk wile heating until the mixture boils gently. You may need to increase the heat slightly.
  10. When the mixture is the consistency of yogurt (?), take it off the heat. It will continue to thicken as it cools!
  11. Whisk occasionally until the curd is lukewarm.
  12. Scrape into a container and store in the refrigerator until needed.
  13. Use to fill the chocolate cake layers.

Chocolate Buttercream (adapted from the Purity Cookbook):


– 10 tablespoons Softened margarine (use higher-quality stuff, like Earth Balance brand)

– 1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla

– Pinch of salt

– 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

– 9 cups icing sugar

– 1/2 cup room-temperature coconut milk


  1. Beat the margarine, vanilla, and salt together until fluffy.
  2. Mix together the cocoa powder and the icing sugar.
  3. Add 1/3 of the dry mixture to the butter mixture.
  4. Beat on medium until incorporated.
  5. Add half of the coconut milk.
  6. Beat on medium until incorporated.
  7. Add another portion of the dry mixture.
  8. Beat on medium until incorporated.
  9. Add the remaining coconut milk.
  10. Beat on medium until incorporated.
  11. Add another portion of the dry mixture.
  12. Beat on high until fluffy.
  13. Adjust the consistency of the icing as desired by adding more “milk” or icing sugar.
  14. Use to paste together the cake layers, and frost the outside of the cake. An offset spatula really helps!

Chocolate Glaze (from Dad):


– 1 cup Chocolate chips

– 3 tablespoons Hot coffee

– 3 tablespoons Softened margarine (I used the high-quality kind)

– 1 tablespoon Orange liqueur, orange extract, or extra coffee.


  1. Melt the chocolate chips on low heat, preferable in a double boiler.
  2. Brew the coffee.
  3. Add the hot coffee to the melted chocolate and stir. This will look terrible, but don’t despair!
  4. Add the margarine and stir rapidly. Aha, you’re getting an emulsion!
  5. Add the flavouring and stir some more.
  6. If you want this runner, add more hot coffee.
  7. Drizzle all over the cake or anything else that could use some pizzazz.

Black Forest Cake

We have a faithful vegan chocolate cake recipe. Having withstood the test of time, it has served as our wedding cake, birthday cakes, bake sale cupcakes, and so on. Almost every time, non-vegans say “this is VEGAN?!!” It is that amazingly moist, chocolatey, and delicious. It is the Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake from the Joy of Cooking, and I recommend that you buy or borrow that cookbook to try it out. I won’t reproduce the recipe here as I don’t have permission, but I can say that it is based on a magic combination of oil, vinegar, and baking soda to give it its texture. It mixes up in minutes, freezes well, and can sit in the fridge, covered in icing, for half a week without getting stale.

This is all a preamble to show off my most recent project with this cake, Black Forest cake. I volunteered to make my mother’s birthday cake, and my wife asked me to make it a Black Forest style.

I didn’t write down the details, because I was trying to fill and frost the cake, make chocolate curls, and get dressed all in an hour before we had to leave. However, the main components are:

  • Two 8″ round vegan chocolate cake layers
  • Canned sweet cherries, stewed with corn starch until thick and slightly jelly-like and then cooled.
  • One batch of vegan whipped cream
  • Chocolate curls (To make: Melt dark chocolate and margarine together. Pour it in a mould, and chill. Once the chocolate is cold and firm, and the rest of the cake has been assembled, use a vegetable peeler to peel curls off the block and place directly on the frosted cake.)

I used a little whipped cream to “butter” the layers before I filled the cake with the cherries.

I recommend keeping this cake cool until serving, as vegan whipped cream isn’t as heat-stable as the dairy stuff.

A whipped-cream, cherries-and-chocolate dream

My mother was incredibly pleased, and said it was the best cake I had made so far. All of the omnivores at the party agreed that the coconut flavour of the frosting complemented the cake well.