10 Sweet veganuary recipes you have to try

Helen Best-Shaw

Ten recipes for delicious cakes that are still packed with flavour, losing nothing by being vegan

I rather look forward to my vegan January. Christmas might have been smaller and less frenetic last year, yet I’m still looking forward to taking stock in January, and enjoying a simpler, less rich diet. It’s not just spring greens all day, though; my tea-time snack doesn’t get forgotten. I find a slice of something and a cup of tea essential to keep the spirits up in the long winter evenings. 

 

1. Vegan red velvet cake

I’m a late convert to red velvet cake. This chocolate flavoured favourite hails from Maryland, USA; it is called velvet cake thanks to its fine crumb compared to coarser, heavier cakes. This recipe uses sunflower oil, so it is still a moist and delicious cake that improves overnight after baking. Like traditional red velvet cake it is topped with creamy white icing that makes the red really pop! 

 

2. Blueberry cake with bilberry icing

The thing that drew me to this recipe was the pale purple drizzled icing. As bilberries are a wild variety of blueberry, they’re not the easiest thing to get hold of. Luckily, the author has used dried bilberry powder in this recipe to add flavour to the cake and colour to the icing. And this doesn’t have to be one of those use-once-and-then-lose-at-the-back-of-a-cupboard ingredients; I’m sure a sprinkle would be a great addition to blueberry pancakes or muffins. 

 

3. Matcha pound cake

I had to include this recipe because it’s not just green, it’s GREEN! A bright, in-your-face green. I do like matcha—green tea powder—and matcha-flavoured things such as ice cream. Matcha on its own can be quite bitter, so it does benefit from being paired with sugar. 

 

4. Lemon drizzle cake

A simple one-bowl lemon drizzle cake can be in the oven in minutes; perfect for those moments when I want the creative satisfaction of baking but I’m feeling too impatient to make anything complicated. What is even better is that this recipe specifically calls for not too much mixing. Incorporate too much air, and the cake will rise impressively in the oven, only to collapse when you take it out. 

 

5. Apple crumble tea cake

Something a bit more substantial now. It was the crumble topping that drew me to this recipe; I’m a fan of the contrast between a soft, moist cake and the crunch from the crumble. This cake can also be made gluten free, by using ground almonds and rice flour instead of plain flour. 

 

6. Vegan carrot cake

Carrot cake was one of the first cakes that I ever baked, and it quickly became a favourite. The combination of sweetness from the carrots with crunchy walnuts, spices and citrus from lemon zest is a winner. My top tip for zested lemons, which will otherwise dry out, is to slice them up and freeze the slices. Perfect for drinks from G&T to water with ice and a slice. 

 

7. German chocolate cake with caramel pecan frosting

Chocolate cake time! This one looks amazing—rich, dark, voluptuous! It’s made with cocoa powder, rather than melted chocolate, so there are no worries about using a bain-marie or trying to melt chocolate in the microwave without it going grainy. My top tip for that—as with melting butter—is to take it out when it’s still got pieces in it and beat with a whisk or spoon. You’ll find the remaining chocolate or butter melts quite easily. 

 

8. Four ingredient gluten-free fruit cake

This fruit cake is heaving with dried fruit, so it is a moist cake that doesn’t need ages to mature while getting topped up alcohol. Rather, make this cake and enjoy it as soon as it’s cooled down! I would love to experiment with the spice mix; maybe try a biscoff or lebkuchen spice blend? 

 

9. Vegan chocolate babka

A babka is a sweet braided cake that originated in the Jewish community of Eastern Europe. This recipe is an enriched, yeast-raised dough that’s rolled out, then spread with a cocoa filling. This is rolled up, sliced lengthwise and twisted together. I love the way that a braided dough like this looks, both straight from the oven and sliced. 

 

10. Vegan tea loaf    

The great advantage of loaf cakes like this one, baked in a rectangular tin rather than a round cake tin, is that they cook faster. This tea loaf takes only 40-50 minutes to bake, compared to the one and a quarter-hour-plus of the four ingredient fruit cake above. For an extra treat, add a swipe of vegan spread and dollop of jam before serving. Delicious! 

Helen Best-Shaw, is a freelance food & travel writer, recipe developer & photographer. She has been blogging at Fuss Free Flavours for over ten years. 

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