I used to focus a lot of energy on making vegan desserts that were also somewhat nutritionally virtuous. I would exasperate myself beyond belief doing it! (see these cookies) I don’t have the patience for the trials and errors of baking, especially when you start taking away gluten, sugar etc. I told myself that if I was going to enjoy a treat, I would just make it an all caps, full-on, sugar and everything T-R-E-A-T. I reassured myself that hearty savouries were my strong suit, and that healthy desserts weren’t worth my time and energy anymore.
But this cake. It’s fudge-y, dense, undeniably chocolaty with so much beautiful fragrance from fresh orange, and it’s easy to make! It’s also entirely sweetened with a mix of dates , applesauce, and orange juice. Another thing: it’s gluten-free! And vegan, obviously. The level of achievement this cake ascends to… it’s exhausting and awesome.
And I can’t even take credit for it! The recipe is from the brand new cookbook by Anya Kassoff of the Golubka Kitchen blog, with transcendent photography by her daughter Masha Davydova. I’m very bad at staying up to date with everything in blog land, but I always check when Anya has updates. Her recipes hit the right note of produce-focused, perfectly attuned to what level of satisfaction the season demands, and very smart flavor pairings.
I had seen an earlier galley of Simply Vibrant, but I didn’t know how much I needed this dose of inspiration until the physical book showed up at my door. We’re in that deep, lingering last stretch of Winter, and I’m admittedly slipping into a staid routine with all of our meals. Anya’s style speaks to exactly what we’re all craving I think: seasonal shifts on international flavours, streamlined and intuitive cooking methods, and a nourishing plant-powered undercurrent that is present but not in-your-face.
Even the section breakdown of the book speaks to the way that I think a lot of us find ourselves eating these days (Morning Porridges & Pancakes, Salads & Bowls, Just Veggies, and a chapter devoted to Noodles, Pasta & Pizza, among others). Recipes I’m looking at for the near future Broccoli Stem Riceless Risotto, the Gluten-Free Onion Pizza Crust technique, Creamy Steel Cut Oats with Rainbow Chard and Pine Nuts, and the Tomato and Eggplant Green Mung Dal.
I can tell you with certainty that Anya’s recipes are foolproof. For a person that owns many cookbooks and blogs about food for a living, it (surprisingly!) takes a very special body of work to get me to cook from a recipe to a tee night after night. Simply Vibrant inspires me to do that. This book is going to be my new fave for a long time.
THE PERFECT CHOCOLATE ORANGE CAKE
Reprinted from Simply Vibrant by Anya Kassoff (affiliate link)
Print the recipe here!
SERVES: Makes 1 bundt cake, or 10 mini bundts
NOTES: Anya’s original recipe calls for one big bundt cake, and I’ve left the baking time/instructions for that version here. If you have mini bundts like I do (this pan by Nordic Ware), I’ll let you know that I got 10 total out of this recipe, and that they took about 18-20 minutes to cook.
-This cake is for lovers of chocolate + orange together. There’s just no way around it!
-Skip the chocolate sauce glaze at the end if you want this to be totally sugar-free.
-To make this nut-free, I recommend replacing the almond flour with sunflower seed flour, which I talk about making in this post. Anya notes that you can just use more brown rice flour as well!
-Anya suggests garnishing the cake with chopped pistachios and more orange zest. I used dried rose petals because I was out of pistachios, but also because ROMANCE.
FOR THE CAKE:
1 cup soft Medjool dates, pitted
2 tablespoons neutral coconut oil, at room temperature, plus extra for oiling the pan
1 cup brown rice flour
½ cup almond flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of sea salt
zest of 1-2 oranges
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
⅓ cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
FOR THE GLAZE:
¼ cup finely chopped dark chocolate
1 teaspoon neutral coconut oil
Soak the dates in hot purified water for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a bundt pan with coconut oil.
Combine the flours, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and orange zest in a large bowl; mix thoroughly.
Reserve ½ cup of the date soaking water and add it to a blender along with the drained dates and orange juice; blend until smooth. Add the applesauce, coconut oil, and balsamic vinegar, and pulse to combine. Pour the date mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir just until everything is incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan, transfer it to the oven, and bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for at least 20 minutes, then invert the cake onto a plate or cake stand.
Make the glaze: Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler setup until liquified and combined. Pour the glaze over the cake and garnish as you please (more orange zest, chopped pistachios or dried rose petals).