Saturday, October 27, 2012

Vegan MoFo 27: Cake

One thing that just grinds my gears is when someone decides to write a review to publish on Amazon of a vegan dessert book, and complains that there's sugar, oil, or flour being used. They always say the same things about being vegan for health and looking for healthy desserts.

If you want a healthy dessert, eat some fruit. Cake, cookies, pies, candies, ice creams - these things are not healthy by definition. Listen, my sister is a total health nut, and she's always making lovely healthy desserts out of sweet plants. I'm less motivated to eat by health, so I just eat my 22.2 tsp. of sugar each day and mind my own business.

What really bothers me about these reviews though is that it perpetuates the myth that vegan=healthy. I eat a lot of healthy food, but the first week or two of MoFo was nothing but grief eating for this blog.

Whiskey and ice cream for breakfast, pizza from down the street, and lots of brownies composed the bulk of my intake. All were vegan, all were distinctly not healthy.

Even when I righted things by eating foods that were light and nutritionally dense, I kept eating my desserts. I always reduce the amount of sugar that I use in recipes, but even still I know what I'm getting into.

Even when I make something in the fruit crisp/crumble/cobbler spectrum, and even when I reduce the amount of sugar, and EVEN when I add oats, I know that the word "healthy" has no business lurking around my post-entree ritual. In fact, I don't even want to get close to it by claiming that any of my desserts are "healthier" than the non-vegan versions. Mine are better for other living creatures, but I'm not about to be a guest of Dr. Oz for my groundbreaking work in diets.

Or maybe I will be ...

Well until then, I'll continue doing my current job, which requires me to bake a cake for a celebration for the students. I love making cake, and I have the library to do it well. But to be honest, I don't want to be bothered. I don't want to mix all of the ingredients and do all the fancy groundwork for a cake that will be won and eaten (probably in a few messy bites) by a school age kid.

And so for the first time in years, I bought a box of cake mix and a can of frosting. I never realized that some varieties from Duncan Hines were accidentally vegan. On top of it, I don't even have to do much more, since soda replaces all of the other ingredients.

I can't help but think this is a little gross. I try to avoid soda as a rule. I once had a serious Dr. Pepper problem, and having a soda kicks off a lot of cravings and sugar intake. These cake mixes can't exactly be low in sugar either. So while this kind of cake won't become my regular Saturday night thing, it'll do its job for an event like this.

I did learn that with this method, you have to bake it significantly longer than the box times, and that the toothpick test seems a little less reliable.

Obviously, I couldn't resist the urge to at least zhuzh it up a little, so I added a little orange food coloring to the can of frosting and a handful of chocolate chips. I wanted to do some Quick Melty Ganache from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, but I ran out of time. I had to run the the grocery and everyone in Baltimore is doing the same for hurricane preparedness, so lines were long. Additionally, there wasn't good light for the picture.

Today, I'm going to health it up with an apple crumble.


  1. I loved this post!! It made me snicker. So many of my friends and co-workers immediately assume vegan=healthy as well. Have they looked at my very curvy body? I say curvy, but chubby is more like it. I'm with you. Desserts are for indulging. Bring on the cake!

    1. Thank you! People always assume that it's why I have no curves. Reality is that I'm 30, with no kids, a dancer, and from a small family. If any of those things were different, my body could be very different. Luckily, my body is for me and my enjoyment, so I indulge away!

  2. I'll take a piece of each of those cakes please, bring on the sugar!

  3. I am so with you on all of that. I regularly get comments/e-mails that complain about how I use sugar -- and, god forbid, powdered sugar! -- in dessert recipes. I'm all for people eating the kind of (vegan) food that feels right to them, and I know you can make a lot of delicious sweets with alternative sweeteners, but look: to a large extent, sugar is sugar! If you want calcium and fiber, eat some broccoli. Don't get mad that my triple-chocolate-cake recipe has sugar and flour and chocolate in it!

    1. My sister eats so well, and makes desserts that are far more nutritious than many of my dinners. They taste great, and I love eating with her. I agree with you - people should definitely do right by themselves in terms of nutrition, but no magic in the world will make that amazing-sounding triple-chocolate-cake recipe healthy!