Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chocolate Tofu Cake. No Eggs. No Butter. Vegan Friendly.

“Secret Cake Club Perth is a group of bakers, food lovers, friends, strangers and general lovers of social gatherings, who come together once every 4-6 weeks to celebrate their love of baking. We set a theme, and up until the last moment, the location of the event is secret! We all show up to the secret location with our baked goods in hand, eat as much or as little cake as we feel like!”  (

The last Secret Cake Club Perth for 2012 was held on Saturday 1 December and the theme was “Secret Ingredients” with a competition to see who could guess correctly the most secret ingredients. It was interesting to see what people came up with, there was so much creativity as well as trickery, as people tried their best to conceal what the secret ingredient in their cake was. So much so, that out of 13 cakes the highest score achieved for guessing the correct secret ingredient(s) in the cakes was 2 and Jacqui indicated that she had been very generous with her marking. I got a score of 1. 

It was quite hard trying to guess the secret ingredient(s) in the cakes. Often I could detect something but found it hard to articulate what the ingredient was, I couldn’t put a name to it. As the ingredients are mixed altogether into the cake batter, it’s easy to disguise the taste of something by combining it with a stronger flavour (eg: cocoa/chocolate). After a few cakes I was kind of drunk on sugar in that I could no longer concentrate properly or recognize flavours in the cakes. There are on average 12-15 cakes brought to each cake club event but I never eat every single cake, I generally taste a few and take a piece of the others home for later. One can only eat so much cake! But this time around, because it was a competition, I ate every (well almost) cake. 

 Cakes with number display - write down secret ingredient guess next to cake number.
My cake was No. 10

When I was trying to come up with a secret ingredient for my cake, a number of ideas ran through my head such as using different spices, adding alcohol or incorporating vegetables, but I felt that it would be to obvious. I wanted to use an ingredient that people wouldn’t normally think of adding to a cake.

In the end I settled on tofu as my secret ingredient. I had come across it being used in desserts before but I had never eaten tofu in a dessert or made a sweet dish with tofu before. I love eating tofu but it’s one of those ingredients that people either love or hate, with the haters perceiving it as bland and find the texture strange. I’ve grown up eating tofu in many savoury dishes – stir fried, deep fried, grilled and steamed, I’m all over it. Tofu is one of my favourite Asian ingredients. 

I googled for a tofu cake recipe and settled on a chocolate cake as I thought that the chocolate would be the best at masking the taste of tofu. What I also found out was that tofu can be used as a substitute for eggs in baking. I used an Eggless Chocolate Cake recipe from the Eggless Cooking blog. The mixture is enough to make a two layer cake but I ended up making a one layer cake and used the rest of the mixture to make muffins so that I could try some of the cake before cake club to make sure that it was ok. For the icing, I simply melted some chocolate and butter together, then dusted the top with a little cocoa powder.

The recipe for the cake contains a pretty standard list of chocolate cake ingredients - flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, sugar, vegetable oil, milk, coffee and vanilla extract, except that there are no eggs and butter with ½ a cup of pureed silken tofu added instead.

Puree tofu looks like yoghurt

When the cake finished baking I was surprised at how well it turned out. It rose nicely and the texture ticked all the boxes of what a cake should be - it had developed a nice crumb, it was moist and a bit dense which is what you want in a chocolate cake. It tasted fine and was very similar to other chocolate cakes I have eaten. But it’s quite strange to take an ingredient that you have grown up eating in certain ways and putting it in a different context. Knowing that it contained tofu and I was not making a stir fry with it, for some reason I couldn’t get it out of my head that there was something not quite right about the cake. My mind kept trying very hard to convince me that the cake kind of smelt weird, the texture was a bit off… having tofu in cake just feels kind of wrong…

 Chocolate Muffins

 Baked Chocolate Tofu Cake

Chocolate Tofu Cake

At Secret Cake Club Perth everyone commented on how good my chocolate cake tasted and no one detected what the secret ingredient was. Before revealing the secret ingredient, I asked everyone if there was anything that they felt was weird about the cake but everyone thought the cake was delicious, no one felt that there was anything odd about it. No one could tell that there was tofu in it. So I fooled everyone, including myself. A chocolate cake with tofu and no eggs or butter = a deliciously moist, rich tasting and dense chocolate cake. Another bonus is that it’s vegan friendly and would be quite healthy too.

The other cakes at Secret Cake Club had secret ingredients that I would never have thought of to include in a cake – cannellini beans, five spice powder, Corona (yes the beer), balsamic vinegar, chickpea in icing and special mention goes to this cupcake that contained 7 secret ingredients and multiple layers of flavours inside.

This cupcake was made by Dervla Delights – the cupcake batter contained matcha powder and Japanese mayonnaise which was dyed brown to fool us into thinking it was chocolate. There was jelly inside containing mango and lychee puree and a layer of caramel with coconut cream powder inside. An almond crumble was sprinkled over the top with nori and chilli powder. 

Although it is bursting with a parade of flavours and layers of textures, there was a unity in the cupcake which you don’t expect when you eat it all at once. This cupcake was on another level. 

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