It wasn't until my good friend Lauren, part owner of Stag Hair Parlor in Los Angeles, had a birthday in September that I became familiar with this phrase. I would randomly hear her and her husband sing the jingle-like melody, usually after committing an act of self-indulgence. I had no idea what they were referring to. I'm used to this as they have an uncanny knack for quoting things.
Once I saw this clip from Parks and Recreation, I knew what had to be done for Lauren's birthday.
Lauren is gluten-free so, therefore, she tends to be my guinea pig when I want to try out a new recipe. This time it was a basic chocolate birthday cake. The "little black dress" of recipes, if you will. Something that everyone should be able to partake in.
I made the cake for the whole staff to consume, so I wanted to make sure I left out all possible allergens. They have a receptionist who is is allergic to certain nuts, a stylist who could not have chocolate and another who just plain HATES peanut butter. Oh, and both Lauren and her husband were vegan. I, personally, am anti-refined sugar and prefer not to feed it to others.
So I guess you could say I had my work cut out for me.
If you ever decide to follow a specific diet or just become more aware of what it is you are putting into your body, I encourage you not to focus on what you CAN'T have, but what you can have. Sure, there were lots of potentially delicious ingredients I could not put in this cake, but think about how many millions of delicious ingredients existed beyond nuts, milk, eggs and wheat flour. Surely there was some combination of ingredients that, when baked, became something worthy of the title of "treat".
And there was.
If you often bake with vegan and gluten-free ingredients, I highly recommend starting a sourdough starter. This is pretty much the secret to all of my baked goods. I started my "boosted" brown rice starter about 5-6 months ago and it has never let me down. It's basically a combination of water and flour that has been fermented (the longer the better!) to give your baked goods a rich, mildly tart "buttermilk" flavor and texture. When it is combined with baking soda, it bubbles up and creates an end result that is fluffier than any vegan, gluten-free cake I've tried.
Because I used a 9 x 13 cake pan and cut the layers out by hand, I had a few random pieces of cake left over. If you go this route, I have included a quick cake pop recipe to use with the leftovers at the bottom!
Vegan "Buttermilk" Chocolate Cake
2 cup boosted brown rice starter
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 grapseed oil
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup all-fruit jam (I used blackberry fruit spread)
1 cup maple syrup (agave or honey works fine too)
3 tablespoon ground chia
3 cups brown rice flour
1 cup carob or cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
Preheat the oven to 410. Combine starter, vanilla, oil, applesauce, jam maple syrup and ground chia seeds. Let sit for 15 minutes while mix the remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl. It is VERY important that you let the ground chia seeds sit in the wet ingredients for 15 minutes. This causes the wet mixture to become gelatinous and serve as your binder.
Once the wet mixture has set for 15 minutes, combine your wet and dry ingredients. The mixture will get a bit light and fluffy once the baking soda and starter start reacting. This is my favorite part.
Spread into a cake pan. I used a 9 x 13 cake pan. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce to 375 and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until you can push into the center of the cake with your finger and it bounces back. The initial high heat causes the cake to rise more easily.
If you want to make little mini cake like I did, let the cake cool and then turn it out onto a flat surface and use something in your desired shape (bowl, cup, cookie cutter, etc.) to cut out your layers.
3 cans of full fat coconut milk, opened, in fridge for at least 4 hours
1/2 cup creamed honey
desired add ins
Whip all ingredients together until fluffy. I used 1 tablespoon of matcha green tea powder for one cake, a pinch of lavender and beat juice (for lavender color) for another and 1/4 cup peanut butter for the third cake.
Bonus Recipe: Cake Pops
already baked cake
an equal amount of frosting or nut butter
melted chocolate OR:
2 part coconut oil
3 part carob powder
1 part liquid sweetener (agave, maple, honey)
dash of vanilla
Crumble up your leftover cake pieces, or premade cake, and mix it together with an equal amount of frosting. Set aside. Carefully melt chocolate OR melt coconut oil and carob powder, then remove from heat and add vanilla and sweetener. Roll cake mixture into balls and dip in melted chocolate or carob mixture. Set on parchment to cool.