Saturday, 2 September 2017

Vegan Slow Cooker Carrot Cake with Aquafaba recipe

Vegan carrot cake 
I love cooking and baking with random ingredients and aquafaba certainly fits that bill! If you haven't heard of it before, aquafaba is the liquid that is normally poured away when draining a can of chickpeas. Some bright spark - does anyone know who? - discovered that it is actually an amazing egg replacement for vegan baking. I've been seeing aquafaba crop up across blogged recipes for a while now, not completely convinced by claims for it I admit! However, when I last made my Chickpea Cauliflower Couscous, I dutifully saved the aquafaba into a jar in the fridge ready for cake baking.

I decided to use Poppy And The Bees adaptation of a Mary Berry carrot cake recipe as a starting point, taking note of comments about baking powder volume at the end of her post. I reduced that, plus I substituted a batch's worth of sunflower seed pulp (Sunflower Seed Milk recipe here) for part of the flour. So my Carrot Cake used two ingredients that would otherwise have been thrown away. Slow baking it used a lot less electricity too so yay for frugal me!

Carrot cake ingredients 
150ml rapeseed oil
15 tbsp Aquafaba (about a 400g can's worth)
225g demerera sugar
200g carrot, coarsely grated
180g sunflower seed pulp
120g plain flour
2 good tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger

First I grated the carrots and set them aside.

Then I plugged in my slow cooker and set it on high to warm. I have a Morphy Richards Sear And Stew model which has a metal pan so is well suited to baking. If your slow cooker has a ceramic pan, check its instructions to make sure you can use it for baking. Some ceramic pans will overheat and crack if their contents don't include enough liquid.

I put the oil, aquafaba and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat it with a balloon whisk until the mixture was well combined and thickened a little. This is great exercise for reducing bingo wings (if you have an electric whisk use it!)

Beaten oil, aquafaba and sugar 
Then I folded in the carrot and gently mixed it in well.

Then I added the sunflower seed pulp, flour, baking powder and spices. These were again gently mixed in well, making sure that any sunflower seed clumps were broken up.

I poured the batter into my slow cooker, put the lid on and left it to bake for two hours. I later realised that I hadn't greased the pan first, but the ingredients are oily enough and the pan non-stick so I just about got away with this omission. I'll try to remember next time!

After two hours I stuck a wooden kebab skewer into the cake. It came out with a little mixture stuck to it so I put the lid back on for another 15 minutes. The next skewer test came out clean so I removed the pan from the slow cooker, switching the machine off too, and set it aside for about 20 minutes to firm up. I ten upended the pan over my oven-gloved hand to remove the cake which came out almost entirely without having stuck to the pan (see above!). I let the cake cool on a baking rack for another half hour or so before enjoying a slice with my afternoon tea.

A baked carrot cake 

I am happy to be able to say that baking with aquafaba worked very well for me. The cake texture was perfect, even with the slow cooker rather than oven baking, and there is absolutely no chickpea taste in the finished product. I also like that I am no longer tied to proportioning other ingredients to match an egg. Using aquafaba is far more flexible if, say, I don't have quite enough flour or sugar. I can just put in less aquafaba, reserving the left over for another day. Aquafaba will keep for several days in an airtight jar in the fridge. For longer storage, freeze it in an ice cube tray and then keep the frozen cubes in a jar in the freezer until they are needed.

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