Vegan vanilla sponge cake with cream 'cheese' icing, maple and pomegranate

Vegan vanilla sponge cake.
Vegan vanilla sponge cake. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Dietary
Vegan

It might seem like a baking oxymoron to include meringue and baking powder for lightness and lift, then oil for richness, but it works marvellously well. The aquafaba (chickpea liquid) and baking powder ensures a great crumb-like texture.

Ingredients

330g flour

320g castor sugar

1 ½ tbsp baking powder

1 cup vegetable oil

1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

190ml almond milk

120ml (6 tbsp) aquafaba (from a tin of chickpeas)

Icing and decoration

230g vegan cream cheese, softened

½ cup icing sugar, sifted

arils of 1 pomegranate

1 tbsp maple syrup

dried lavender and petals (optional) to scatter

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins.

2. Combine the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl.

3. In a small bowl, briefly whisk together the vegetable oil, vanilla bean paste and almond milk then slowly pour into the flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the aquafaba liquid until firm peaks are achieved (about 10 minutes). Add the batter mixture and whizz ever so briefly to just combine (about three seconds), enough to incorporate the ingredients, but not so much that the aeration of the aquafaba mixture is lost.

5. Divide the cake batter between the two prepared tins and bake for 35 minutes or until the sponges are lightly golden and spring back to the touch.

6. For the icing, add the cream cheese and icing sugar to a bowl and whisk to combine. Spread half the mixture across the top of one cake, then gently sandwich with the second cake. Spread the remaining icing over the cake. Top with the pomegranate arils and drizzle over the maple syrup. Slice and serve.

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