Sponge cake with chickpea meringue (Aquafaba)

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I first read about vegan meringue last year on Sanjana’s blog when I made her vegan meringues. Amazing stuff! Since then I have baked a few more vegan recipes and am really pleased with the taste and the outcome. My mum might be right when she said that the change from being a vegetarian to becoming a vegan might not take all that long. I don’t know about that as I do love parmesan cheese on my spaghetti. But back to this delicious vegan sponge recipe.

Aquafaba is the name for the cooking liquid of beans and other legumes like chickpeas. Up until last year I plead guilty to typically discarding the liquid of chickpeas. You will agree that this water does look a bit, erm, gooey. Faba is the Latin word for beans and Aqua, of course, water.

 

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The name was coined by Goose Wohlt, a (vegan) software engineer in the US, who was experimenting with vegan egg replacements and found out that the chickpea water itself is enough to form a meringue-like consistency. He posted this on the popular Facebook group “What Fat Vegans Eat” and set off a landslide. If you are interested then check out the other Facebook group “Vegan Meringue – Hits and Misses” and the tag “Community” on this site http://aquafaba.com/index.html. There are Facebook groups listed there in French, Portuguese and German.

And here comes the recipe I tried out. There are quite a few about, but this one from Tivonika (YouTube channel) caught my eye and so I gave it a go.

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (not fan-forced)
  2. Sift together 200 g flour, 1 tsp baking powder and ¼ tsp baking soda into a separate bowl and set aside.
  3. Whip 150-160 ml of aquafaba (I used chick pea, 400 g can) with 1 tsp apple vinegar. Like when making meringues with egg whites I always wipe my bowl and whisk attachment with some vinegar or lemon juice to get rid of any oils which can compromise the stability of the meringue.
  4. Start on low speed until most of the aquafaba has turned foamy and then gradually increase the speed to medium. When there is no more liquid left, increase the speed to maximum and whip until firm. This will take about 10 minutes.
  5. Gradually, while the mixer is still running on high speed, add 160 g sugar. Whip until all of the sugar has dissolved. About 2-3 min.
  6. While the mixer still running on high speed, add 2 tbsp oil (I used sunflower). Add the oil very slowly, or it will separate from the meringue.
  7. Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and whip a few more seconds.
  8. Release bowl from machine and gently fold the flour into the meringue. Don’t over mix it. You want to keep all the air you beat into the mixture.
  9. Pour into lined (base) 24 cm round baking tin. Bake for approx. 30-35 min.

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The traditional British Victoria sponge is filled with jam and whipped cream. So I spread on some of my home made strawberry jam and tried out some vegan whipping cream (Natumi Bio CreSOY Soya-Sahne, German brand). I was a bit disappointed in that the cream didn’t whip up extremely thick even with a thickening agent. It was more like a very thick pudding. The taste was different to dairy cream of course, but not unpleasant. Sort of nutty. The only annoying thing is the price. At €1,09 for 200 ml it is double the price of dairy whipping cream. It seems as if the industry want to make a huge profit from veganism. Makes you stop and think about what food really is worth here in Germany. €0,55 for a food which comes from an animal costs 50% less than the plant based alternative! Crazy!

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The cake tasted really good. And I am not just blowing my own trumpet. No taste of chickpeas. Promise. Even sceptical hubby took a second helping. I will be doing a bit more experimenting as although the skewer cake out clean you can see from the photo that the cake sunk in the middle after I took it out of the oven. I baked it in a 20 cm cake pan and not 24 cm like in the recipe. Maybe this recipe isn’t suitable for smaller pans as it doesn’t rise very much. But having said that so far aquafaba is an egg-cellent replacement for egg whites. Excuse the pun, but this topic does lend itself to this play on words! 😉

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Use the chickpeas for making delicious hummus or just toss them into a salad.