I made this cake for my birthday last year, which proves two things: 1) that I’m way behind in editing my posts and more importantly, 2) that my taste buds have changed considerably since I was a child. Back in the day, I only had eyes for chocolate (as I’m sure my Gramma would be sure to tell you). But this time around, all I could think about was fruit and lightness. So I grabbed the nearest cookbook, found a recipe for an orange vanilla cake that needed a little somethin’-somethin’, and set about creating my own special birthday cake. I would suggest Terra Lightfoot‘s album for this “cheffing” session, since its earthy grooviness compliments the lightness of this cake rather well. I think the greatest strength of this cake is that it can completely change just by switching up a couple key ingredients. I’ll be sure to highlight the variations throughout the recipe so that you can create whatever cake you’re in the mood for. Here we go!
- 3/4 cup EarthBalance butter, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/4 cups maple syrup
- 1 tbsp vanilla (Variation: use lemon extract, or lemon/lime juice to kick up the citrus. My fave is lime juice.)
- 3.5 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour (you can use all white flour if you want a lighter cake)
- 1.5 tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2.5 cups soy (or almond) milk (Variation: change to orange juice for a REALLY citrus-y cake)
- 3/4 cup dried blueberries
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a large 9 x 11-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray (or by rubbing the sides with “butter”). Variation: You can easily make a layer cake by using 2 8-inch round cake pans, just make sure you adjust the cooking time to about 30-35 minutes.
Make sure your butter is at room temperature – you can soften it in the microwave if you need to, just make sure you don’t melt it. Now you have a choice: use a mixer or burn off some calories and use your arm! Cream the butter, then slowly whisk the maple syrup into the butter, beating until it’s light and fluffy. Add the vanilla (or extract/juice) and mix.
In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and sea salt. Take turns adding a bit of the flour mixture, then the soy/almond milk, to the maple syrup mixture, stirring well each time a new flour/liquid part is added. Pour into your pan then pop it in your oven for about 50 minutes (or see above if you’re making a layer cake), or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool completely before frosting – though if you’re more into glaze, then it’s actually better to toss the glaze on when the cake’s still warm since that’ll encourage the glaze to soak into the cake for moist, delicious results. I’d suggest a citrus-y frosting or glaze for this cake to really boost the lightness of it, but if you’ve gone the vanilla route, a nice vanilla frosting or glaze will taste great too. Remember, you can always substitute lime for lemon, which will put this cake over the top. Everyone knows blueberries love limes, right?