MINI VEGAN PUMPKIN AND ORANGE LAYER CAKE WITH RAW ALMOND FROSTING (V+, ChF, GF, R)

MINI VEGAN PUMPKIN AND ORANGE LAYER CAKE WITH RAW ALMOND FROSTING (V+, ChF, GF, R)

'' In the last few months I feel I have been peeling away layers, layers of who I think I was or wasn't, layers of (limiting) believes and convictions. I didn't know much about myself apparently. Maybe I still don't. The process felt and still feels so hard. And, that outer shell was so cozy, so protective. But inside I hope to discover a soft core, full of life and beauty.'' - quote slightly adapted from Silvia Bifaro

I quit my job. And though I felt relieved and elated when I handed in my notice, I also felt terribly sad. That surprised me.
I kept trying to figure out why I had felt a little upset that day and why I still continue to feel sad in the run up to my last day in the office (which is this Thursday BTW). I mean I hadn't been enjoying my work for a long time anymore therefore, surely, I should feel nothing other than joy, right?

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When I analyzed my feelings from a very pragmatic point of view, my sadness did make sense. I mean I'm saying goodbye to an awesome bunch of people (in fact I mentioned one of them in this post) whom I have thoroughly enjoyed working with. Furthermore, quitting my job also means leaving behind a steady and stable income which has provided me with a sense of safety and security.

But there was of course more to my emotional upheaval than sheer pragmatism. And when I spotted Silvia's thoughts on identity on her instagram feed, it all sort of clicked. You see, for more than a decade being a social worker has been a fundamental part of my identity or at least a fundamental part of who I perceived myself to be. And if I let go of that aspect of the definition of 'me' what or who will I be left with? I don't know is the honest answer, but I do think that the loss as well as the fear of the unknown has - I think - led to somewhat of a grief response.

But the good news is, I am eager to discover more of me and get an inch closer to my core and my essence of being. So I'm tackling my fears and the unknown head on and looking forward to finding out what 2016 will bring me...

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But, you didn't stop by the blog to hear me ramble about, well, myself, right? You came to find out all about this lovely vegan mini layer cake didn't you? Don't worry cuz I don't blame you. I mean this is a good one, a really good one ;).

However, I do need to take you back to the beginning first, ok? See, a few weeks ago I met up with vegan cookbook author and all around nice person Aimee Ryan, the voice behind the beautiful blog Wallflower Girl. We somehow connected on social media and after a few e-mails back and forth decided to meet up and work on a joint blog post.

In prepation for our collaboration, we put together a top secret pinterest board. We filled it with images that inspired us, giving one another a good sense of what we wanted out of this joint piece of work well in advance of our meeting. After throwing around some ideas, we soon agreed we wanted to make something sweet and seasonal and - inspired by Cynthia's mini cakes - we thought we'd create our own vegan minicake version :).

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It was a looooong, but utterly lovely day. Aimee taught me so much from using a camera stand for the first time, to remaining calm even when your natural light source is slowly but surely calling it a day just as you start shooting the actual cake. Plus Aimee was the perfect hand model and the image above of her holding the basket full of pumpkin is probably my most favourite shot of the day. Aimee, I couldn't have done this without you. Thanks for allowing me to let out my inner food photography nerd without shame. We MUST do this again sometime soon :)

Want to see Aimee's version of our mini cake? Good! Then hop over to her blog, like NOW!

Thanks for reading everyone.

P.S. Want to support this blog? Then pin away, tell your friends all about The Little Plantation and follow along on instagram :). I would greatly appreciate it.

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MINI VEGAN PUMPKIN AND ORANGE LAYER CAKE WITH RAW ALMOND FROSTING (V+, ChF, GF, R)

IMPORTANT: Please check the notes at the end of the recipe before you get stuck into baking ;)

Preparation Time: 15 - 20 minutes
Baking Time: 40 minutes
Makes: this 3-layered minicake or 6 cupcakes

Cake Ingredients (very roughly adapted from Muffins Galore): 
some coconut oil for greasing
75g (2/3 cup) spelt flour + 75g (2/3 cup) plain flour
100g (1 cup) sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
90ml (6tbs) vegetable oil (We used rice bran oill)
90ml (6tbs) plant based milk (We used almond milk)
1 1/2 tbs ground flax seeds + 4 1/2 tbs water
50g (1/2 cup) grated butternut squash or pumpkin 
50g (1/2 cup) roughly chopped almonds
zest of 1/2 an orange

Raw almond frosting ingredients:
100g (1 cup) ground almonds
80ml (1/3 cup) almond milk - or more if needed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp coconut oil
Juice of 1/2 a large lemon
2 - 3 tbsp maple syrup

Ingredients for the candied orange decoration (optional, adapted from Martha Stewart):
1/2 orange
1/8 cup sugar

Please note making the decoration take about 2 - 2.5 hours, so it's worth preparing this in advance - say the day before - and in a larger quantity to make it worthwhile. But I noted the quantity as is, because that is what we used on the day.

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Instructions: 

If you are making the candied orange decoration (optional) please allow an extra 2.5 hours for this or make in advance.

Thinly slice 1/2 orange and grate some orange zest.Set the latter aside. Place the orange sices on a baking tray covered with non-stick paper and sprinkle with sugar. Place in the oven at 200F/95C

Bake until the slices are dry, about 2.5 hours. For the last 20 minutes, add some grated orange zest onto the baking tray too, to be used as a crunchy topping.

Once you remove the decoration from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F. If you are not making the decoration be sure to pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F before you get started.

Place all your ingredients on the kitchen counter before you start. Then grate the butternut squash/pumpkin. Make sure to slightly pat the grated pupkin/squash dry with kitchen roll, to absorb some of the moisture.

Then roughly chop the almonds. 

Next grease 3 ramekins (diametre 3.5inch or 10cm) with coconut oil.

Mix together the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, spices, chopped almonds and salt. In a separate bowl mix together the ground flaxseeds and the water and let the mixture stand for 2-3 minutes.

Then in a larger bowl mix together all the wet ingredients by adding the watery flaxseed mixture to the oil, mlik, grated pumpkin and orange zest.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Please don't overmix; everything should be just combined. Next spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins and bake in the oven for about 40min (if making 6 cupcakes please half the baking time) or until risen and golden.

Whilst the cake layers are in the oven start working on the frosting by mixing the ground almonds, almond milk, vanilla, coconut oil, lemon juice and maple syrup in a food processor. Blend until a thick, smooth icing has formed. Set aside for use once the cake layers are ready. 

When the cake layers are ready, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely.

Then place the 3 cake layers in the freezer. This will make it easier to trim off the rounded top of the cake, frost and stack the cake.
Leave the cake layers in the freezer for about an hour and then carefully trim off the top to create an even, flat surface.

Next spread a generous amount of frosting evenly on each layer, decorated with the candied orange and crispy orange zest and you're done! 

Tip 1: You can replace the flour we used with gluten-free flour to make a glutenfree cake :)
Tip 2: The ramekins are super easy to get ahold of. I think I bought mine ages ago from a regular supermarket. You can also get them online. Mine were made from glass, so oven safe. Be sure yours are oven safe.
Tip 3: As mentioned before, the cake mixture can also be used to make 6 cupcakes. Alternatively, if you don't want to create the layer cake, just make 3 individual mini cakes. YUM. 
Tip 4: The frosting keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days :). 

Looking for more vegan baking ideas? Why not try my vegan carrot cake, pretty pear cake or simple vegan blackberry crumble?

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