Caveats: This is a time consuming recipe, especially the frosting part. Things will look very weird at several points in the recipe. Trust me, it will all work out just fine. I wish I'd taken photos of the weird stuff, but I didn't. So here's a weird-ish photo to show you what I mean:
See how the top of the layer looks lumpy? Well, it's even lumpier going into the oven. Don't panic at all about this. There's some real magic that goes on between the apple cider vinegar and the rest of the cake. It leaves it all moist and wonderful. Besides, no one will see the lumpishness. The frosting takes care of it.
Speaking of the frosting, there is definitely enough to cover your cake lavishly. You can definitely be generous when you're smearing it on.
OK. Now for the recipe. Vegan Carob Cake with Fudgy Carob Frosting
2 cups whole wheat flour 2 cups all purpose flour 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 cup carob powder 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup oil (I used grapeseed.) 2 cups agave nectar (I know this sounds like a lot, but the original called for 3 cups of maple syrup -- an expensive recipe, for sure. Still, it's a LOT of cake.) 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (Don't omit this ingredient, whatever you do!) 2 tablespoons vanilla 2 cups filtered water
6 tablespoons agar flakes 1 1/2 cups water 3/4 cup carob powder 3/4 cup agave nectar Pinch of salt 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 4 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot powder 6 tablespoons almond milk (or whatever non-dairy milk you prefer)
1. In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients. Give them a stir for about 2 minutes, until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. 2. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, mix the wet ingredients for 3 to 5 minutes, until they are well combined. 3. Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Here's where things are very weird. It's going to be extremely lumpy. Don't overmix this no matter what your head tells you. Mix until the dry ingredients have been moistened -- about 3 minutes. 4. Let the cake batter rest a few minutes while you preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and oil and flour your two 9-in. cake pans. You definitely want to line the bottoms of your pans with a circle of parchment paper as well. Trust me on this. The cakes WILL stick if you don't. 5. When the pans are prepared, pour the batter into the pans. Don't be concerned that there is a lot of batter, it won't over flow. However, feel free to put the pans on top of a cookie sheet with a lip. 6. Bake the cakes for 35 minutes or until a tester comes out with just the barest of crumbs. Do NOT open the oven for the first half hour. This important for the lump-killing abilities of the cider vinegar. You will regret it if you don't leave the layers alone. 7. Cool the layers completely before frosting. Frosting Directions:
If you thought the lumps were weird, strap in -- it gets much weirder.
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the agar and water until the agar has dissolved. If you haven't yet worked with agar, you're looking for something akin to a mucous-y consistency. Sorry, but that's probably the best comparison I can think of at the moment. Feel free to add yours in the comments. 2. Whisk in the carob powder, agave nectar, salt, and vanilla, mixing well as the mixture simmers. Make sure you get all the lumps of carob because these will show up later if you don't. 3. In a little bowl or a liquid measuring cup, dissolve the arrowroot in the non-dairy milk. 4. Add the arrowroot mixture to the saucepan, and continue stirring until the whole thing thickens a bit. It doesn't take long -- only about a minute. 5. Pour the mixture into an oven-to-table-to-refrigerator pan or baker, then chill it in the refrigerator until it sets. This could take up to an hour. Play it safe and leave it in there for an hour. 6. Just when you thought you were done... Take the set almost-frosting out of the fridge and cut it into 1-in. squares. Load the squares into your food processor or blender and puree until smooth. This may take a few minutes. It took about 10 minutes for mine to get completely smooth. However, there were lots of air bubbles in the frosting that you can see in this photo:
7. Gently remove the cake layers from their pans and place one layer upside down onto your cake plate. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting generously on the top of the layer. Gently place the second layer on top of the frosting, then generously frost the top and sides until the cake is completely covered in luscious frosting. 8. Enjoy!