Who doesn't like a slice of cake? Chocolate cake, Victoria sponge, layered cakes, big cake, cupcakes, you name it, I'll eat it! As do my children and all their friends. And all my friends! Unfortunately, when she was very young, one of my daughters had a rather alarming intolerance to eggs. Not wanting her to have bright red blotches all over her body, along with swollen eyes, on her first birthday, I had to find a solution.
The answer was eggless cake! Little did I realise then that this one, simple cake would change my baking habits forever.
Originally, the recipe I made was a chocolate cake (always a hit with children), but over the years I've found other flavours online, or developed my own flavours, but the method and the base recipe has always remained the same. Trust me, once you try this type of cake, you won't go back! No more creaming butter and sugar, no more adding eggs, no need for machinery even! Instead, this incredibly easy method will provide you with nice, light, fluffy cakes every time.
Several years after making that initial birthday cake, and having moved from the Middle East to France by this time, I was asked by my older daughter if I could make some cupcakes for a charity event at her school. Apparently, the idea was that the children and staff at the school would run a lap of the sports field then they could buy a treat, whether it was a drink, a croissant, or a cake, which is where I came in. My first question was, “How many cakes?”. The answer was, “As many as you can!”. I only had one cake tray! Ninety-something cupcakes later, I just kept my fingers crossed that everyone like them. I need not have worried. The cupcakes sold out within the first hour, and people were running extra laps, just to buy another cake! My daughter's class was recognised as having raised the most amount of money, and my daughter was now the most popular person in the school.
Then a few years later, a lovely lady, who lived not too far from me, started holding charity book sales and asked if people would bring cakes along with them when they came, so she could sell them along with a cup of tea, coffee or wine, and all proceeds would go to local animal charities. I didn't need any more encouragement and got busy in the kitchen. She must have thought I had gone completely crazy because I turned up with about three dozen cakes (actually, I think it was four dozen, oops!). However, the cakes seemed to be going down well with the trays steadily emptying, and the highlight of my day was when a lovely gentleman came over to shake my hand and thank me for making the cakes.
All was going well, with everyone enjoying the day when someone said to me that they'd love to try my cupcakes, but they were vegetarian. I know this may sound a bit daft, but honestly, having made these cakes since 2002, it only dawned on me at that very moment that the actual cakes themselves were absolutely suitable for vegetarians! There's no butter, no eggs, no milk involved in these cakes. Furthermore, it's really simple to adapt the frosting recipe to accommodate vegetarian and vegan needs, too, because every cupcake should have a big swirl of sweet frosting on top.
So, in honour of autumn, and to introduce you my easy eggless cupcakes, here is my recipe for spiced apple cupcakes. This cake is everything you would want for this time of year; fragrant and warming, with seasonal flavours. Enjoy!
1 ½ cups PLUS 2 tablespoons plain flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice mix (see below)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup small, chopped apple pieces, cooked down slightly with the juice of ½ lemon and about 1 teaspoon sugar and allowed to cool (the result should still have some small chunks and some apple puree)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ - 1 cup water, as needed
Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC. Line muffin tray or cake tray with paper cases.
Sift first six ingredients into a bowl.
Make three depressions in the dry ingredients, two small and one larger.
Pour vinegar in one small depression, vanilla extract into the second, and oil into the third, larger depression.
Add cooked, cooled apple.
Pour water over all other ingredients (add a little at a time, so the mix does not become too liquid in this particular recipe).
Mix until smooth.
Half fill cupcake cases with the mix.
Bake for around 20 minutes, checking by testing with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean to make sure cakes are cooked through. Extra time is needed for these cakes due to the apple pieces.
1 cup unsalted butter or margarine (see notes below)
4 cups icing sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice mix (select to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
4 (approx.) tablespoons cream or milk (see notes below)
Beat butter with a hand mixer until slightly pale and a little fluffy.
Slowly add icing sugar and pumpkin spice mix with the mixer on a low setting.
Slowly increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla (or almond) extract, salt and cream or milk.
Continue to beat for about three minutes, or until all ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
If frosting mixture is too stiff, add a little more cream until you have a consistency that you can use in piping bag.
The cake mix should be thick but runny, a similar consistency to double cream.
Make your own pumpkin spice mix with 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1½ teaspoons ground allspice and 1½ teaspoons ground cloves.
To make this cake suitable for vegetarians and vegans, swap the butter in the frosting for vegetarian or vegan spread (readily available at most supermarkets) and use soja cream instead of dairy cream.
Baking times may vary according to different ovens, make sure you check your cakes that they are properly cooked.
This recipe may be used to make one single, larger cake, using a 23cm round cake tin or a 20cm square baking pan.
If making one larger cake, grease the pan first, then continue from step one above, mixing all ingredients directly in the pan.
I'd like to dedicate this post to the memory of Chris, that lovely gentleman who took the trouble of thanking me for making the cupcakes, who sadly is no longer with us. NT