I've made this beauty of a vegan birthday cake a couple of times now and it is DELICIOUS. This recipe creates a beautifully moist banana, ginger, pecan and date cake and is decorated with coconut cream icing, banana brittle and coconut-caramel sauce. Yummy.
Utensils: 2lb / 900g loaf tin, loaf tin liner or non-stick baking paper and a little coconut oil for greasing, handheld whisk, wooden spoon, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, heavy-based saucepan, pastry brush, baking tray.
Top Tip: This cake is best decorated just before serving, but everything can be made ahead of time so the only thing you need to do is put it all together on the day. You can store the cake un-iced in an airtight container in a cool dark place for up to 5 days, though I would probably recommend making the cake only a day or two beforehand. The coconut icing and coconut-caramel sauce can also be stored in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 5 days. The banana brittle can be stored in an airtight container in a cool dark place for up to 1 week.
If you're short of time, you could decorate the cake with the coconut icing and coconut-caramel sauce beforehand and refrigerate in an airtight container. Take the cake out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving and add the banana brittle just before serving. Any leftovers can be returned to the fridge but bear in mind the banana brittle might go a bit soggy.
Vegan Banana Birthday Cake
100ml dark rum, bourbon whiskey or Southern Comfort (optional, my favourite is bourbon whiskey for this cake)
200ml water (or 300ml water if not using rum)
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
100g dates, stoned and chopped
100g coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons stem ginger syrup
2-3 balls of stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped
250g plain flour
100g soft light brown sugar
50g desiccated coconut
50g pecans, chopped
2 medium-large ripe bananas, mashed
400ml can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 24 hours before use
2-3 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g caster sugar
50g dried banana chips, broken into pieces
50g caster sugar
2 tablespoons coconut cream, set aside from your 400ml coconut milk can
Makes: One 2lb / 900g decorated loaf cake which can be cut into 8-10 slices
1. Make the banana cake: Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan), prepare your loaf tin using a loaf tin liner or non-stick baking paper and grease using a little coconut oil. Pour the alcohol you've chosen and 200ml of water into a saucepan (or 300ml of water if you're not using rum). Bring to the boil before turning the heat off.
2. Add the bicarbonate of soda and chopped dates to the hot mixture, allowing the dates to soak up the liquid. Then, add the coconut oil to the saucepan to allow the heat to melt the solid oil into liquid. If the coconut oil does not melt fully, turn the heat back on low until all of the oil has melted and then turn the heat off again. Finally, add the vanilla extract, stem ginger syrup and finely chopped stem ginger to the saucepan and set to one side to cool slightly.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, desiccated coconut and chopped pecans. Then, add the wet mix from the saucepan to the dry ingredients and beat with a hand whisk or wooden spoon until well combined. Make sure there are no flour pockets before folding in the mashed banana.
4. Spoon the cake mixture into your lined loaf tin and place in the centre of the oven to bake for 1 hour until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean but with a few crumbs sticking to it.
5. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack in the loaf tin until the tin is cool enough to handle. Once cool enough, turn the loaf cake out of the tin and leave to cool on the wire rack until completely cold.
6. Make the coconut icing: To make the coconut icing, remove your chilled can of coconut milk from the fridge (putting the can in the fridge for 24 hours allows the cream and water to separate) and spoon the coconut cream into a mixing bowl, leaving the liquid in the tin. Then, set aside 2 tablespoons of the coconut cream in a separate small bowl to use later for the coconut-caramel sauce.
7. Briefly whisk the coconut cream with the sifted icing sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add more icing sugar if you'd like a firmer / sweeter icing. Then, transfer to a small bowl or container, cover with cling film if needed, and refrigerate until you are just about ready to serve the cake.
8. Make the banana brittle: Place 100g of the caster sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and pour over about 50ml of water (make sure to use enough water to dampen the sugar all over). Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper and scatter the dried banana chips over the paper. Set to one side.
9. Place the pan over low heat and swirl the sugar/water mixture until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup looks clear. Once all of the sugar has dissolved and the mixture looks clear, turn the heat up to medium and allow the syrup to come a boil. Swirl the pan gently as needed to ensure even caramelisation, but do NOT stir. Gently wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, to prevent stray sugar crystals from caramelising or burning on the sides of the pan, and to keep the syrup from crystallising.
10. After 5-7 minutes of cooking, the syrup will start to colour at the edges. Carry on cooking, swirling as needed, until the syrup turns a rich golden colour (you could turn the heat down a little at this point if your're concerned about burning the caramel). Once the caramel turns a rich golden colour, carefully pour it over the banana chips and leave to cool. Once set, break into shards.
11. Make the coconut-caramel sauce: Place 50g of the caster sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and pour over about 25ml of water (make sure to use enough water to dampen the sugar all over). Follow Steps 9 and 10 again but when the syrup turns a rich golden colour this time, take the pan off the heat and stir in the 2 tablespoons of coconut cream you set aside earlier. Pour the sauce into a small container and allow to cool before covering and placing in the fridge until needed.
12. Decorate your cake and serve: Place your cake on a serving plate or board and top generously with the coconut icing, using a small palette knife or back of a spoon to smooth the icing. Then press shards of the banana brittle into the top of the cake. Finally, drizzle the coconut-caramel sauce over the top of the cake and SERVE THAT BEAUTY!
Storage: You can store the cake un-iced in an airtight container in a cool dark place for up to 5 days. Once iced / decorated, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, though if possible try to avoid adding the banana brittle until the last minute, as putting this in the fridge makes it go soggy. See my Top Tip above the recipe for more information on how to store the different components of this cake.