Recipe: Tropical Chocolate and Amaranth Cake

This recipe is the unnatural spawn of three different recipes – one in Veganomicon, for a low-fat vegan chocolate cake, one in 366 Delicious Ways To Cook Rice, Beans and Grains (which, incidentally, is an incredibly useful cookbook if you are trying to up your vegetarian proteins) for a chocolate and amaranth cake, and one from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, for gluten-free chocolate cupcakes.  And then I added my own variations.  Dangerous.  It has a nice, not-too-dense, springy texture, and the orange juice, spices amaranth give it an interestingly Caribbean flavour, at least to my way of thinking.

Perhaps it’s my Aussie upbringing, but I think it would be even better with an upside-down pineapple base.  I’ve done a variation for that below.  I made it in a bundt tin, but it really didn’t rise enough to justify this – I suspect an ordinary 20-22cm ring tin or round tin would do you.  Just don’t fill it absolutely to the brim, OK?  Don’t be intimidated by the lengthy ingredient list, either.  Most of it is an artefact of the fact that you are making your own gluten-free flour, so if you’re pressed for time and have a good commercial alternative, by all means substitute 1 1/2 cups of it for the first 4 ingredients.

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1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup corn flour (cornstarch) + 1/4 cup later on
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup popped amaranth
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cups orange juice
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar

Now what will you do with it?

Grease a 20cm round tin, and line the bottom with baking paper, though actually this cake isn’t too sticky.  Preheat the oven to 165°C.

Mix all the flours except 1/4 cup of the cornflour, the amaranth, almond meal, spices, and baking soda and powder in a large bowl.

Bring the orange juice to a simmer, whisk in the cocoa, and let cool to room temperature.  If you are that patient.  I’m not.

Whisk together the oil, applesauce and sugars, and add in the orange and cocoa mixture.

Pour the wet stuff into the dry stuff and mix well.  The bicarb may make it bubble up a bit, especially if you were impatient like me and didn’t wait for the OJ to cool down.

Pour it all into the tin (this is a very wet batter), and bake for about 45 minutes – you’ll know when it’s cooked because it will come away from the sides a bit and be springy to touch (you don’t really need the skewer test for this cake).  Let cool in the tin for about 20 minutes, then turn out.

You can sprinkle it with icing sugar to serve, or be decadent like me, and make a buttercream using equal parts cocoa butter and vegan margarine, a lot of icing sugar, and enough soy milk to get it to a texture you like.  Sorry, no recipe, because I had to keep adding things, but I did find that cocoa butter never really reaches a soft consistency – you need to melt it to mix it into things.


I think this would be awesome as a pineapple and chocolate upside-down cake!  Take 1/3 cup vegan margarine (Nuttelex is good if you are in Australia), 2/3 cup packed brown sugar, and melt in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbly (this is your basic caramel).  Pour into the bottom of your tin, and place tinned pineapple rings  on top in a pretty pattern (glacé cherries for the centres are optional).  Proceed with the rest of the recipe  as above – you’ll be pouring the batter in on top of the pineapples.  Oh, yum.

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