Featuring Frugal

Cake Side ViewHave you ever seen a cake that made your knickers get all in a bunch?

This post started out a long time ago, with this cake, however it was a dare last week that made me pull it out of the draft archives. Nick at Frugal Feeding made a fantastic Mushroom Orzotto, and in his post, taunted me thus: “If you are food revellers of vegan ilk, it may prove a little tricky to create a genuinely satisfying orzotto – without the presence of starch or dairy fat thickening without altering the flavour entirely could prove tricky.

Mushroom OrzottoMushroom Orzotto

Tricky? Um, I simply subbed 1/2 C. cashews blended with 1 C. water and 1 T. nutritional yeast (cashew cream) and used a “knob” of homemade vegan butter instead of the dairy variety. Oh and I used whole wheat Orzo. Pretty sure I wasn’t missing anything flavor-wise. In fact, these are the sort of dishes that makes my husband ask if we’ve gone off the vegan diet. Fantastic recipe Nick! Next time I’ll be doubling it.

Hasselback PotatoesNick’s Hasselback Potatoes.

The first time I ever saw Hasselback potatoes was on Frugal Feeding. Lets just say, I was more than impressed with the sexy rendition of my favorite root vegetable and have made these several times since.

Sweet Potato & Parsnip SoupRoasted Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup

Then there was the time that I arm wrestled Frugal into participating in the Virtual Vegan Potluck. I don’t think he or his readers ended up disappointed, especially since Nick ended up taking home the prize for best soupΒ with the lovely Roasted Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup. I knew you had it in you my friend πŸ™‚ Besides, how can you not win everyone over with all those lovely roasted veg? Even the PPK thought the Virtual Vegan Potluck was cool enough to put it at #28 on their top 100 list for 2012! I hope you’ll join us again in May.

Roasted VeggiesLovely Roasted Veg!

Now back to that cake. As I said before, this is exactly the type of cake that makes me swoon.

Cake Side & Top ViewFrugal’s Apple and Walnut Cake with Black Treacle (Molasses) Icing

I made a double layer 9 inch cake instead of using the 20cm cake tins. I didn’t have any batter leftover for cupcakes like Nick did in his recipe.

Demystifying Metric Measures & Vegan Substitutions: If you don’t have a kitchen scale, I’ve weighed the ingredients on my kitchen scale and then measured them to take the guesswork out of it for you. Normally I wouldn’t include a blogger’s full recipe, but the online measure substitution tools weren’t entirely accurate and caused me to make a mess out of my first cake. I don’t want the same to happen to you. (Don’t worry, I asked Nick for permission). Go to his recipe for the method, but do preheat your oven to 150Β° celcius (302Β° farenheit) before starting and give your 9 inch tins an extra five minutes in the oven.

Apple and Walnut Cake with Black Treacle (Molasses) Icing

Ingredients for the Cake:

  • 300 grams organic all purpose flour = 2 cups + scant 1/2 cup (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 140 grams dark brown sugar = scant 2/3 cup
  • 50 grams golden caster sugar (I used organic unrefined sugar) = scant 1/4 cup
  • 250 ml sunflower oil = 1 cup + 3 tablespoons (I used half the amount and subbed 1/2 C. applesauce for the rest, because, as my daughter said when I was measuring it out “mom, you don’t use that much oil in a whole year’s worth of cooking”)
  • To substitute for the 4 eggs in the recipe: use 1 cup silken tofu, 2 t. apple cider vinegar and 1 t. baking powder blended all together in a blender, (vinegar and baking powder mimics the rise that eggs give in baking)
  • 3 grated apples (leave skins on)
  • 100 grams chopped walnuts = 1 cup
  • 2 t. Mexican vanilla (addition) because I simply have to put it in everything I bake at the moment

Cake top view

Ingredients for the Icing:

  • 100 grams homemade vegan butterΒ or earth balance = about 1/2 cup
  • 50 grams dark brown soft sugar = about 1/4 cup
  • 1 Tablespoon black treacle (molasses)
  • 1 t. Mexican vanilla
  • 200 grams vegan cream cheese = about one 8 ounce container of vegan cream cheese OR or 2/3 block extra firm tofu, pressed overnight to remove extra liquid.Β If you are using the pressed tofu (like I did) instead of store bought vegan cream cheese, add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice to the recipe.

Combine all in food processor until silky smooth. To the tofu haters: if you make the icing in advance and let it sit for a few hours in the fridge before icing the cake, the tofu flavor in the icing becomes completely indistinguishable as it absorbs the flavors of the other ingredients. I swear it tastes just like I used real cream cheese.

Cake Slice

Do you follow Frugal?



  1. Oh man that cake looks amazing! Don’t you just LOVE mexican vanilla, that stuff is like crack – Tahitian Vanilla is amazing too! Just pinned how to make vegan butter, I find the coolest things over here πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Babe! Oh my goodness, Earth Balance has seen it’s last day in your fridge. The vegan butter ROCKS! I haven’t tried the Tahitian Vanilla, but I love my Mexican Vanilla, my bottle has clear liquid…. So yummy!

      1. Ever since reading and learning more about palm oil production along with watching a few documentaries on how it is effecting the wild life we are trying to avoid palm oil as much as possible – when I saw the link to vegan butter I got super excited- you rock Somer!

        1. Palm Oil is totally controversial. I’ve made it without the xanthan gum and with. It behaves more like butter with, but I like it better without. I also halve the vinegar. It still curdles and still tastes delicious! Oh and if you’ve had Earth Balance’s Coconut Butter, doh, you can make it by using all unrefined coconut oil in the recipe. Freaking Delicious!!!!

          1. I love using the earth balance coconut butter to caramelize onions – thanks for all the tips! One more question – do you use liquid letchin or the flakes?

            1. I started out using the granules, but they didn’t always dissolve entirely, so now I use the liquid. I bought a giant bottle at the health food store for less than $10 it should last me much more than a year.

            2. One more thing. I didn’t buy that silicone mold for the butter, I just recycle my earth balance containers and pour it in there. A double batch fits nicely.

              1. Perfect! I do have one of the silicone molds that I use to freeze herbs and tomato paste in – but I like the idea of using the tub! how long does it last in the fridge?

  2. Looks amazing — all of it. What time should I be over? wink!

    On a side note: In regards to your sentence: “(vinegar and baking powder mimics the rise that eggs give in baking)” I am a professionally trained pastry cook (from my non-vegan days) and was taught that Baking Powder provides the rise you need (in addition to the eggs which are considered a levening agent so-to-speak). At one time, a chef I worked for taught me, “Powder Poof; Soda Spread”. Since crossing over to the vegan side, I always thought the purpose of the vinegar was to mimic buttermilk. I guess I just learned something new today. Ha! Just goes to show you, you’re never too old to learn. My birthday is next month. What time will you be delivering that cake? wink! (again)

    1. The vinegar reacts to the baking powder and gives it a higher rise. Cool eh? Happy Birthday next month babe! Wish you lived closer so I really could deliver that cake! xx

    1. You won’t be disappointed! Lots of vegan and vegetarian dishes! Plus you’re always guaranteed a laugh when you read his posts. Silly Frugal.

  3. Do I follow Fruga? “Why of COURSE I do darling!”… anyone who is ANYONE follows Mr Frugal! ;). He is the new Yotam Ottolenghi/Nigel Slater in this household (although heavy on the Yotam and extra light on the Nige because apparently Frugal is allergic to Nige πŸ˜‰ ). I found him through the Vegan Potluck series and have been stalking his site (and FB page) ever since. I doubt the poor man will ever get rid of me but we all need our antagonists to bounce off each day or where would our excitement come from eh? ;). Now I want to make all of the recipes you featured here immediately…Frugals recipes have a way of making you want to adapt them, a promise of something wholesome, fundamental and 60’s with Fruges in an apron looking decidedly shell shocked at how he arrived there ;). The man is a master of soul food and kudos to his frugal efforts to educate we antipodean masses to the delights of U.K. cooking. You are up there with my hero Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall Fruges…Long may you reign old chap! (And I KNEW that you would rise to my challenge about the recipe πŸ˜‰ )

    1. Oh Sarah. It’s just incredible. I was temped to double the icing and cut each layer in half to make it even more visually stunning, but decided to keep it true to form. You’d love it! I wouldn’t have thought that 3 apples would have worked, but it’s SO good.

    1. GET OUT! What did you think! I’m freaking out over here!!! πŸ™‚ Yup, I get sneaky in the kitchen, not much those cashews can’t replace in dairy!

      1. We thought it was really good – even my husband was sucked right in. Its enough to make us at the very least cut back a lot on dairy and meat and see how that goes. At this point anything that might make me feel better is worth a try. I’ve been having an exacerbation since Christmas and would really love to be done with it. Maybe a diet kickstart will help. I do eat a lot of fruits and veg, but could do a lot better with the cheese and meat..

        1. Oh Heidi, I’m so sorry you’ve been feeling ill, it’s definitely worth a shot. I think you might see improvement even limiting the meat and cheese. Seriously, I was the girl who loved meat and cheese, but I also loved fruit and veggies, and as you can see, I’m not deprived of much. There’s another film free on Hulu right now called Chow Down, similar to Forks Over Knives. Might be worth a watch.

  4. Thank you for such a fun post! I absolutely love frugal, even if I sometimes have to look at photos of ox cheek. πŸ™‚ I make Nick’s carrot and coriander fritters almost weekly. That cake looks delicious all veganized and everything. Can’t wait to try the orzotto. Yahoo!

    1. Yeah, that ox cheek wasn’t for me either, sorry Frugal! I’ll have to try the carrot and coriander fritters, and his onion and chickpea flour ones too. You’ll love the orzotto!!! πŸ™‚

  5. Just made the orzo dish and the soup. SO good! I’m allergic to mushrooms, so we did broccoli. It turned out great! My kids actually asked for seconds. Also, added a little soy milk to the soup, because why not?

    1. I’m sorry to hear you’re allergic to mushrooms, but what a good idea to add broccoli! I’ll definitely be doubling the recipe next time because we ate it ALL up and had no leftovers! The soup was lovely too and you’re exactly right about the soymilk….Why not? πŸ™‚

  6. I definitely want to make the orzotto dish. I love orzo! I love that I read somebody used broccoli instead of mushrooms. We unfortunately can’t eat mushrooms. I for one don’t like them and they are also terrible to trigger gout in my husband. I also love the look of that soup. I agree with you too 100%….I believe and have found I can make ANY DISH taste just as good vegan as the Non-vegan version!! There are just so many alternative ingredients. That’s so nice of you to feature his recipes! πŸ™‚

  7. Waw! Every dish looks amazing & tasty too! Thanks for this lovely read too! I hope you are all better now! I have missed you on my blog! That filled & layered cake with that special frosting looks spectacular & pretty too! πŸ™‚

  8. So beautiful that cake, wow! You gotta love Nick – and you for so wonderfully accepting his challenges to veganize his delicious recipes! If anyone can do it Somer it’s you!

  9. Hey Somer!! PS. I totally LOVE your blog. You don’t know, but I’ve been making a lot of stuff you have on here. Actually, right now, I’m making your cream of mushroom soup. But, I tried making this cake and it didn’t rise. What did I do wrong?
    Love ya!

    1. Not sure what could have gone wrong, unless you missed the baking soda, but even then, there’s only a very small amount for 2 cake rounds. It doesn’t rise a whole lot and is a very dense and moist cake….. Love you right back! Hope you enjoy the cream of mushroom! xx

  10. You think this would do ok with a small brown rice pasta, or broken pieces brown rice spaghetti to make gluten free?

  11. Yea I’m totally doing that. Happy happy happy hubby this week for sure. Your recipes never fail to woo and impress omni hubs. Still working my way up to trying one of your recipes with “cheese”. Is there one you would recommend to try first?

    1. Do you mean the cake for vegan cream cheese? I would try the foxy moxy. It’s the fastest easiest and has the most positive feedback. We love it. Having it on pizza again tonight.

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