For as long as I can remember, Easter in my house, meant one thing: Easter Lamb Cake. But what is this, you ask?...
Traditional Lamb Cake. Gooey whipped egg white frosting, smothered over a fluffy, dense pastel swirled cake (with 4-5 eggs in the batter, colored by store-bought artificial food coloring) all covered in sweetened coconut flakes and date "eyes and nose" to complete the lamb look. Then a nice pile of fake green grass and homemade dyed Easter eggs around the cake platter edge. I dreamed about this cake for months before Easter. Better than a chocolate egg.
But then I grew up. Changed my lifestyle. Went vegan. Only one thing to do: Veganize my Lamb Cake...
...Easier said than done, but with a little trial-and-error I've come to a yummy conclusion. I've posted my frosting recipe here - and part two: the batter and set-up. Onto the new and improved vegan recipe...
Easter Cake 2010. I knew my biggest challenge would be that gosh darn perfect egg white frosting. Here are a few of the other "vegan substitutions" I had to consider:
egg white frosting -> Shiny Cream Cheese Whipped Vanilla Frosting, using agar agar, vegan cream cheese, vegan shortening, rice whip and soy milk. (See Frosting Post for Complete Recipe)
dates -> vegan, yay.
artificial food coloring -> natural homemade food colorings from fruit/veggies
sweetened coconut -> unsweetened fine coconut shreds, organic
white flour, bleached -> I chose a Bob's Red Mill unbleached organic white flour
white sugar -> chose a vegan, evaporated cane juice crystals, sugar
eggs in cake -> combo of applesauce and soy yogurt and baking powder
butter in cake -> chose virgin coconut oil (or canola oil)
The one thing I couldn't veganize...
I knew I would never be able to get my cake to rise the way that 4-5 egg lamb cake used to! So I decided to nix the one-side filled cake mold, and I simply filled both halves of the lamb cake mold with batter. I then secured the cake with toothpicks. You can use toothpicks or leftover frosting. Worked well.
Also, yes I know I arranged the date "eyes and nose" in more of a "looks like a dog" way. But if you angle the date nose vertically - you'll get a more "Lamb" look. I'll admit it - I was rushing a bit. But the taste saved the day..
Color. Yes, the colors fade a bit during cooking - but I was very happy with the results...
Color of cake after baking:
Onto the recipe...
Spring Swirl Vanilla Cake
3 cups white flour
*I used Bob's Red Mill unbleached, organic
1 cup vegan granulated sugar
2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup water
1 cup soy milk
2 Tbsp canola oil or softened virgin coconut oil
3 Tbsp vanilla soy yogurt
1/2 cup applesauce
1 Tbsp vanilla extract OR real vanilla bean seeds (1 bean)
green: kale, juiced
pink: red currents, blended into batter
*food coloring recipes here
1- 1 1/2 cups of White Fluffy Frosting (Recipe here)
1 cup shredded coconut
"green grass" garnish
1. Tend to the frosting. See details in frosting recipe post.
2. Preheat oven to 375. Grab lamb cake molds. Note: You can also make a regular two-layer cake or use another cake mold with this recipe. Grease and flour the cake tins very well. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, salt, baking powder. Mix well.
4. Fold in water, soy milk, yogurt, applesauce, oil and vanilla extract or seeds. Pour 1 cup of the batter into a separate small bowl, and another cup into another small bowl. Add 1-3 tsp of veg/fruit food colorings to the small bowls (one pink, one green) Stir until well colored.
5. Grab your molds and pour the white batter (big bowl) into the cake pans - about 1/2-3/4 full. note: the tin comes with a vent hole on one side - I covered it with a secure piece of tin foil.
Lamb Cake Tin:
6. Next swirl in a few Tbsp of each color into the cake pan until you get a nice swirled cake color.
7. Place pans in oven, and bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
8. Remove cake and allow to cool fully until you remove cake from pans. Loosen with knife.
9. While cakes cool, grab your chilled/firmed frosting, fold in whipped rice cream (as in frosting directions) until you get a white fluffy mixture. You can even use more rice whip than recipe calls for, for a fluffier, softer frosting.
10. Set up lamb cake molds. You can use toothpicks OR frosting to secure two sides of mold.
11. Frost your cake.
12. Add coconut "fur".
13. Add date eyes and nose, secure with toothpicks.
14. Add grass garnish.
15. Serve or store in fridge (wrapped in plastic or wax paper) until ready to serve.
16. Serve at room temperature-slightly chilled temp.
17. Will keep in fridge for a few days.
Just for you guys, a stroll down memory lane...
Moi, Being a 15 year-old Goofball on Cake Frosting Day:
Me and my Lamb Cake. Circa 1996. My sister snapped this goofy pic of me smiling silly - frosting face and all. Like I said, I loved that gooey luscious egg white frosting. And as you can see, most of the frosting got on my face and in my mouth rather than on the lamb. ha ha. good times. I was a freshman in high school, yet still a cake-loving kid. Enough self-embarrassment!
For as long as I can remember, Easter in my house, meant one thing: Easter Lamb Cake. But what is this, you ask?...
For Part One of my Easter Lamb Cake Post, I want to share with you my Fluffy White Cream Cheese Agar Whipped Vanilla Frosting. I just call it my Perfect White Fluffy Frosting.
I had the challenge of "veganizing" my mom's famous egg white vanilla frosting recipe. After several frosting-experimentation days, I finally came to an end result that I love. While this doesn't replicate egg white frosting - for the purpose of my Easter Lamb Cake, it's sweet perfection. All the components are there: white, shiny, fluffy, sweet, creamy, spreadable. It's great for any layer cake, cupcakes or frosted sweet loaf too. Get my recipe...
My Easter Lamb Cake batter recipe will be posted later today - but to get you started (and excited), here's the frosting...
Lot's of experimentation went into this frosting. I was thrilled to be able to add in some Agar Agar. And to get the creamy whipped texture I craved, I folded-in some store-bought Rice Whip.
Rice Whip, vegan (fold-in):
Chilled Frosting, Before Folding in Rice Whip:
Frosting my Lamb Cake:
Creamy, Fluffy, Sweet, Decadent, Vegan:
Products, Products to Experiment:
Agar Whipped White Cream Cheese Frosting
1 Tbsp agar agar
3/4 cup soy milk
6 Tbsp vegan shortening + 1 tsp salt
OR 6 Tbsp vegan buttery spread (omit salt)
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
8 ounces vegan cream cheese
2 Tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
Fold-in: 2 cups rice whip (in spray can)
1. Frosting: Sift together powdered sugar and arrowroot or cornstarch. (salt if needed) Set aside.
2. In a soup pot, heat soy milk over med-high heat. Dissolve agar agar into soy milk.
3. Add shortening or buttery spread. Stir until melted. Reduce heat to low and stir/melt-in cream cheese.
4. Next, stir in half of your powdered sugar portion. When dissolved (a few lumps OK), remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
5. Then transfer to blender (or use immersion blender). Blend in remaining powdered sugar.
6. Quickly transfer to a large mixing bowl and place in fridge to chill.
Chilled, pre-rice whip frosting:
7. Prepare cake as directed. While cakes cool, grab your chilled/firmed frosting, fold in whipped rice cream until you get a white fluffy mixture. note: You can even use more rice whip than recipe calls for, for a fluffier, softer frosting.
Fold-in the Rice Whip:
8. Frost chilled cake.
Note: You can also make this frosting a day ahead of time, although I advise folding in the rice whip right before you do the spreading of frosting on the cake.
Stay tuned for the cake recipe....
Have you had your "Me Time" today? Probably not, considering your busy busy day, right? Well I am ordering you to take a few minutes for *you* tonight, or perhaps tomorrow. Plan for it. Get excited about it. Close the door, close your eyes and indulge yourself in... you.
Here are ten ways I love to get my "me time"...
I'm so envious of my kitty. She seems to live her life in *me time*. Humans seem to live their lives in *other people time*. Especially busy working moms who live in *my kids* and *my job* time and probably try to squeeze in some *my husband* time. And maybe at the end of the day, squeeze in just a few seconds of *me time*....until someone calls your name or buzzes your cell.
So no matter what your lifestyle, it's good to find a balance of *me* and *not me* time. Unless you are a cat, and then you can pretty much enjoy your *me life*.
10 Ways for ME Time
1. Book Time.
Whether it's curling up with a sassy fiction novel, a talked about nonfiction like JSF's Eating Animals or even a few flips of a vintage childhood Garfield book, I adore curling up with a book. Now should I curl up with an iPad is the question... Hmm.
2. Breathing Time.
Conscious breathing is a task many of us skip. But if you take a few moments to meditate on each breath you take - you'll probably feel a sense of calm that you've been missing all day. And here's a tip: once in a while when you work out, nix the iPod and simply focus on listening to your deep heavy breath as you exercise.
3. Smoothie Time.
Blend up a smoothie, curl up in a chair and just sip. Slurp. Taste. And here are 20 smoothie tips to blend like a pro.
4. Skin Brush Time.
Detox your skin by skin brushing. Yes it takes an extra 2-5 minutes before your bath or shower, but it is a nice quiet time to take some extra care to nurture your skin and entire body.
5. Hot Yoga Time.
If you have a few hours to spare - lucky you. Why not attend a Hot Yoga class. Do some research and discover if Hot Yoga is for you. I love it!
6. Long Lunchbreak (Detour) Time.
OK, so many of us don't have the luxury of popping uptown to a free lunchtime theater session, like I did a few times in NYC. But there are lots of ways to *get away* on your long lunch break. Not an everyday activity, but a special once in a while activity that you'll learn to crave. Me time in the afternoon...
7. Kitchen Made Bubble Bath Time.
Here are my fave kitchen-made bubble bath recipes. Having a long bubble bath at the end of the day is a *me time* ritual we can all embrace. Unless you live in a tiny NYC apartment and don't have a tub. Bubble shower? Steam shower! Steam room? Take a spa day in your bathroom, your body and stress levels will thank you.
8. Spring Cleaning Time.
OK, OK, so there are a lot of you who don't have time for inefficient *me time* right? Well here ya go! Get some cleaning done, while also getting some zen-ful time to organize your life. Once your cleaning is done, you may find that *me time* comes a bit easier. Here are 5 reasons why spring cleaning may be worth your energy and time.
9. Focus on Color Time.
This is fun. Take a tiny *me break* and focus on color! Choose the color that you crave in your life: creativity or focus....learn more.
10. Wellness Travel Time
For the ultimate *me time* try planning a wellness vacation. And even if you can't truly get away, it's still fun to peruse a few wellness destinations. There's always daydreaming... Ten Wellness Travel Destinations.
Those are my ideas and fave ways to take a break, but how do you like to get your *me time*?
I was excited when I found out that Le Pain Quotidien's new spring menu included a vegan Curried Tofu and Pineapple Tartine, aka open faced sandwich. A spicy cranberry chutney on the side, organic flax and pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top. I'll admit I was not convinced that the combo of pineapple and curried tofu would be a winner. Check out my taste test...
Le Pain Lunch to-go:
I love wandering into Le Pain for a quick bite. Maybe a vegan blueberry muffin. Perhaps a soy latte. Soy chai. A steamy vegan mushroom or other veggie soup of the day. Or maybe some of that delicious vegan Harvest Porridge (farro, nuts, cranberries and almond milk) I love so much. I adore Le Pain for it's wide variety of vegan and non vegan options. It's a crowd-pleaser for me and my family. Onto my taste test review and more of my photos...
Taste Test: Le Pain's Vegan Curried Tofu and Pineapple Tartine
with flax and pumpkin seeds, on spelt bread
Looks divine. Lots of chives, radish, cucumber and baby lettuce speckled throughout.
It comes with some sort of spiced cranberry/raisin chutney. I'm not really into Indian food (chutney's and curries) as much as some of my friends, but this was delightful and light. Perfect protein-packed lunch.
The chutney is amazing. Love that stuff. Cinnamon, spices and cranberries. A little bite of heat too.
The curried tofu was very light and creamy. I liked the subtle curry flavor. I probably would've added a bit more salt to the tofu, but I guess if you are dining at Le Pain - they always have those big pepper and salt grinders at each table to add your own. So for my taste buds, I'd add a big grind of pepper and a little grind of salt - but the flavor and texture for a chilled tofu curry is impressive.
The pineapple was super fresh, firm and chunky. I was so glad they weren't little mushy clumps or anything that seemed canned. No way. They tasted fresh-chopped to me. I'm guessing they are..?
The spelt bread was brilliantly fabulous as always.
I would've liked more organic flax and pumpkin seeds on my tartine! It was such a small sprinkle I could barely find the flax seeds. More seeds please! Since the seeds made the 'menu description' I'd like to see a lot more of them on the tartine. Love the seed-ingredient addition to this seasonal menu item.
And the to-go package is good if you are on the go - however, I always advise eating at Le Pain because it's such a nice modern, calm space. ..Except during weekend brunch-hours. The noise level can get pretty intense! Especially at their NYC locations. I like the energy though...
Last Word: I really like it! I don't really crave tofu for lunch all that often, but I would buy this for lunch again and again. That says a lot! Something about this is just so light and balanced. The acid from the pineapple, the sweetness from the chutney and pineaple, the spice from the chutney and radishes, the softness of the mellow curry and the light crunch of the spelt bread crust and cool cucumbers. Plus those fabbo organic flax and pumpkin seeds - more seeds please.
Yellow Pineapple, Yellow Tofu:
Stay connected with Le Pain:
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Le-Pain-Quotidien-USA/245974547029
..or just read my blog - I comment on their #vegan products quite often!
Yay, we've made it all the way to the end of my Salad Tour Series. I've had so much fun crafting yummy bowls of colorful goodies for you these past few weeks. And to close this series with a big crunch, I've crafted my Big Kahuna Hawaiian Salad with Pineapple Tahini Dressing. Big Island, here we come!...
Hula skirt? Check.
Candy-colored sunset? Check.
Crashing waves and pure white sand? Check.
Tropical breeze? Check.
Mai Tai? Check.
Perfect Hawaiian Salad? Let's get to it...
It's a Luau in a Bowl:
Pineapple Tahini Dressing:
Macadamia Nuts are a Tropical Delicacy! Tip: try macadamia nut oil for a real treat...Big Kahuna Hawaiian Salad
vegan, serves 2
2 cups frisee, finely chopped
2 cups baby lettuce mix or baby spinach (any fave leafy green will work)
1 cup chopped pineapple
1 cup chopped papaya
3/4 cup roasted/salted macadamia nuts
handful of plantain chips
fresh black pepper
optional: coconut flakes, roasted corn, spicy tempeh cubes
*use fresh pineapple and papaya. Chop and store the leftovers for a tropical fruit salad the next morning.
Pineapple Tahini Dressing
1 1/2 Tbsp tahini sauce
2 tsp Grade B maple syrup
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp pineapple juice
1. Whisk together the dressing. Set aside.
2. Prep your fruit by chopping up your papaya and pineapple. Store the leftovers.
3. Finely chop your frisee. Place in bowl. Add baby lettuce.
4. Toss lettuce gently with 1-2 Tbsp of dressing.
5. Portion salad into two bowls.
6. Add pineapple and papaya on top of lettuce.
7. Add macadamia nuts.
8. Place plantain chips around edges of bowls.
9. Drizzle additional dressing on top and add fresh black pepper to taste.
Serve! Aloha! Don Ho music optional...
Dive into yummy salad:
In a few days, I'll be posting my recipe for my Easter Spring Swirl Lamb Cake. I "veganized" the recipe from my childhood by nixing the animal products. But instead of using store bought artificial food colorings like we did growing up, I wanted to use the magic of nature to create beautiful pastel all-natural food colors to swirl into my cake batter. Here are a few of my homemade food colors that you can use in just about any baked good recipe: cakes, cookies, pancakes, muffins. Natural Homemade Food Coloring Ideas...
I was at Whole Foods, excited to gather ingredients for my veganized Swirled Easter Lamb Cake. I grabbed a box of the only liquid food coloring that I could find at Whole Foods. I wanted pink and green dyed cake - and fast! The brand I found had lovely natural ingredients and I had heard good things about these dyes, but I knew I was being lazy (I could easily make pink and green myself).
Then I looked at the price tag. Over $16 for cake dye? I guess these were long-lasting "investment" bottles. Hmm, not into that kind of commitment today. I put them back. But that was OK, because I knew I could get beautiful pastel pink and green batter by using my own natural food coloring recipes...
For my cake I needed green and pink.
Green: kale juice extracted from my juicer. I only needed about 2 tsp of kale juice to get a very rich pastel green color.
Pink: I actually took a handful of red currents and blended them in a blender with the white batter. The batter turned pastel pink and gave the batter a sweet tart hint of flavor I loved.I used my juicer to extract dark rich "food colors":
My Pink Red Current Coloring:
*More about my juicer here*
*Juicing 101 and Buying Guide Post Here*
My end result cake (before swirling colors together):
And there are plenty of options for fruit/veg/spice powder food colors...
Process: I used my juicer. This is the easiest way of extracting a thin juice color. You can also boil your ingredients in very shallow water and use the strained colored water from that. Or you can smash soft fruits/veggies and strain the juice away from the pulp.
*You can also blend berries directly into your batter - like i did with my red current "pink" batter. Just be sure to account for them in the recipe and make alterations if needed.
Just a few teaspoons of green kale juice is enough to pastel-green dye your bowl of batter:
Fruits n Veggies n Spices to Use for Natural Food Colorings:
Juiced: kale, parsley, spinach, romaine, cucumber, bell pepper, watercress....
Boiled green veggies, using the water/juice will give you a much lighter green color
Juiced red pepper
Juiced tomato, choose dark red tomatoes
rhubarb juiced or boiled
chile powder or paprika powder
juiced or boiled red cabbage
juiced eggplant skin
frozen, fresh or juiced blackberries
juiced(or smashed and strained) black/purple grapes
Juiced yellow beets
juiced yellow bell pepper
boiled yellow beets (lighter color)
warm-water soaked/bloomed saffron
What to look for in fruit/veggies:
Choose produce that is dark and concentrated in color. For example, choose dark kale as opposed to light kale. Choose dark-skinned grapes as opposed to light-skinned/translucent grapes. The bright beautiful colors will come from the rich pigments in the produce skin and flesh.
You also want to choose fruits and veggies that are known for staining. Think of all the clothes and hand stains you've had from produce: grape juice, tomato sauce, beet juice stained hands. Those "staining" fruits and veggies are perfect for this purpose!
Vinegar? Some natural food coloring recipes call for adding vinegar to your recipe. I personally just use the juice as is, but you can experiment with what works best for you and your specific recipe.
But Won't this Change the Flavor of my Recipe? Good question, but surprisingly, these small hints of food "dye" do not change the flavor of a large batch of batter all that much. My "kale" stained batter did have a slight savory-grassy hint to it, but it was nothing to change the true flavor of my cake. And my "pink" batter did have a slight sweet-tart flavor, but I think this was because I blended in whole red currents instead of juicing them to extract the color.
My answer is no, if your extracts are concentrated enough, you will only need a tiny bit - and the flavor impact will be minimal. And a little beet or kale juice in a colorful cake never hurt anyone anyways!
Good Luck and Happy Colors!
FYI on Easter Eggs. I know a lot of you are vegetarian or flexitarian's and may still be into Easter Egg dying - well FYI, you can probably choose these all natural colors in place of the fake stuff.
Color your cakes with veggies!:
Here are a few more pics. Sorry for the poor photo quality on these pics - I was using my cell phone camera in my very busy messy kitchen. ;)...