The secret of our cake! We share how it’s done, the dairy free way!

You may know that our cake is made without any milk or eggs.

Actually, you might not know – the taste certainly won’t give it away!

Vegan cake is a fine art, but very easy to learn – and once learnt enables you to make cakes with just a few simple ingredients and it’s easier on the planet and on animals, too.  Dairy free cake lasts well, too (although that’s rarely an issue here) and of course, more people can enjoy it.

You haven’t seen true happiness until you see the smile on a vegan or dairy intolerant person’s face when they realise they can eat the cake!

Our chefs, Ziggy and Abi, have both been vegan for years and have shared their top expert tips with us.  

We don’t use any ‘egg replacer’ in our cake, as we feel it’s quite highly processed, and it’s made of….well… chalk.  It’s also quite hard to get hold of in regular shops (although we’re looking forward to Rice Up opening near us in a few months, so ingredients will be easier to get without resorting to supermarkets).

So, how is vegan cake done, you ask?

1) Be gentle

We can’t stress this enough!  The main secret with vegan cake making is to avoid bashing the batter around.  The fluffiness of the cake is achieved through a reaction between the lemon juice and baking soda, which means no beating all the bubbles out of it.

Also, vegan cake may not travel all that well.  When we first opened, Ziggy made a few cakes at home and brought them in during the initial weeks.  This is why, when they make a film about The Art House, it shall be called

Cakes on a Train  

The cakes sometimes formed a grand canyon down the middle in transit.  So it’s worth bearing this in mind if you’re taking them to a party (ice them first and they should be fine).

2) Use quality ingredients.  

Cheap n nasty ingredients taste… well… cheap n nasty.  We use only fairtrade sugar and cocoa in ours, and all ingredients are organic.  This does make a difference to the final result.

Lots of chocolate, or other flavours, is the secret, too.  Lots and lots of tasty things.

3) That’s it!  Now for a recipe

Art House Double Layer Round Chocolate Cake (12 Slices)

This recipe was originally devised by Ziggy, 
refined by Abi and is our best selling cake.


– Large cake tins (22 centimetres is good) – greased and lined with with greaseproof paper (this is important, they will stick otherwise). 

– Leave enough greaseproof poking out to provide handle to lift the cake out of the tin when cool.

– Large wooden spoon

– Spatula
– Measuring jugs x 2
– Scales
– Large mixing bowl
– Measuring spoons – 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon
– Measuring cup
– Blender

Preheat oven to 200 Degrees C

Ingredients for cake batter:-

300g Self Raising White Flour (sifted)
200g fine sugar
100g bar ‘Divine’ dark chocolate (chopped)
75g  Fair Trade Cocoa Powder (sieved)
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon paprika
350ml Soya Milk
100ml Sunflower Oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

– Preheat oven to 200 Degrees C

– Put all the DRY ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix.
– Mix the WET ingredients together in a seperate bowl/jug before adding to the DRY ingredients.
– Fold all ingredients together with a wooden spoon, carefully, using a figure of eight movement to get lumps out.
– Line two (9” 22cm Diameter) circular cake tins with baking parchment.
– Pour half the mix into each tin, use a spatula to smooth the mix into the edges of the tin.

– Place in the oven for 20mins.  You may want to turn/swap shelves if the heat in your oven isn’t even (ours isn’t!)
– Make sure the cakes are cooked through by poking with a knife, which should come out clean. 
– When cooked through place tins on a cooling rack, for about an hour, before icing.  Don’t turn the warm cakes out or they’ll crack!

Ingredients for icing:-

½ tsp vanilla extract
25g cocoa powder
125g (approx) soya margarine (we use ‘Pure’ which can be bought in most large shops) You can also use ‘TREX’ which gives a fluffier texture (a hint we picked up from Hannah Banana Bakery)
1 cup (250ml) icing sugar (approx)
1 Tablespoon 

(approx) soya cream (optional – just use 25ml soy milk if you need to)

9) Put margarine, cocoa powder and vanilla into the blender, or mix by hand!

10) Add about half the icing sugar and blend until well mixed.

11) Add more icing sugar and soya cream until a good consistency is reached – not too runny (will run off cake) not too thick (won’t spread).

12) Allow cake to cool COMPLETELY before icing & slicing.  This will take about 1 hour.

13) Turn cake out of the tin onto a tray.

14) Make sure the cake is completely cool – if it is, then ice.

We recommend these two books for vegan baking goodness (we use all of these)

The Cake Scoffer by Ronny Worsey

Another Dinner is Possible by Mike & Isy from the Anarchist Teapot

About arthousesouthampton

The Art House is a not-for-profit café, gallery and arts venue in the centre of Southampton. We are a place you can meet new people, meet up with friends or just come in by yourself. Our licensed café offers delicious organic lunches, Fairtrade tea and homemade cake. We also have a busy programme of events, workshops, and art exhibitions, a clothing and crafts boutique and lots more. Most of our crew are volunteers and you might even want to apply to join them. Come along and enjoy our unique, community run space.
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