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How to make vegan Espresso Brownies. Sometimes nothing else will do but cake. It has a child-like simplicity that never fails to win me over. Perhaps it takes me back to those childhood days when a cake was a special treat: my grandma’s Victoria Sponge or Coffee Cake (note: this is a plain, tender sponge cake flavoured with coffee and filled with coffee buttercream) or perhaps the cake I insisted that my Mum made for me every single birthday: the Hansel and Gretel chocolate house. I insisted that the chimney always went to the birthday girl, a small square of sponge with about an inch of icing used to cement it to the top of a rickety cake roof.
Later on, my mother discovered the joys (and simplicity) of the Lemon Drizzle Cake, a cake with such longevity that we would be eating it two weeks after it was baked and it still tasted great.
England is a country of cake eaters. We love dense fruit cake with virginal royal icing and marzipan, we enjoy the daintiness of Fairy Cakes (although these have been somewhat usurped by the ubiquitous Double-Choc or Blueberry Muffin in recent years) and Chocolate Cake holds a special place in the hearts of singletons the country over.
Yet, it still seems that the ratio of being buying cakes compared to baking them is top-heavy. People seem to fear baking as though it were a sophisticated French technique. Indeed, there is a certain art to icing cakes but there is nothing at all to creaming some butter and sugar together, and folding in some flour, but I have developed a technique that even removes the creaming element. I call it the Blender Cake. Simply whisk the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Throw the wet ingredients into a blender (and what self-respecting vegan doesn’t own a blender that they surely make morning smoothies with? (Although I don’t actually make smoothies with mine)), whizz together until smooth then mix into the dry ingredients. It is almost foolproof.
I have said before that baking becomes more like second nature as your confidence improves and don’t the cakes that our mothers and grandmothers bake(d) taste so much better than their chemical laden shop-bought variants?
I am living proof that practise does indeed make perfect. I have had many disasters in the kitchen but as your grow more experienced, you learn certain pitfalls, specific methods, and your success rate grows exponentially. Remember that you are in charge of the ingredients and not the other way around.
But what about these Espresso Brownies?
Is it wrong to have brownies for breakfast? Not if the main flavour is coffee! These have a rich, deep coffee flavour that will send the espresso lover in your life crazy (in a good way, not just a caffeine induced way)!
These are in fact less a brownie, and more cake-like, so don’t expect a really gooey middle, but instead a tender, caffeine infused crumb, supporting yet more coffee in the form of a simple water icing.
I think they’d be perfect for an informal coffee morning, or if you wanted to fancy the cakes up a little, a sprinkling of some purple edible flowers will never go amiss.
I love to top these with a chocolate bean, and serve, almost ironically, with a cup of a tea, and a Penguin classic. These days I get time to read very rarely, so it’s nearly always Audible I turn to, but nothing beats the smell of a vintage paperback, the slightly crumbly pages, and the joy of finding an annotation or an old ticket, used as a bookmarker.
- 8" brownie pan, lined
- 1¾ cup (225g) Self-Raising Flour
- 1 teaspoon Cocoa Powder
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 cup (225g) Vegan Spread
- 1 cup +2 tbsp (225g) Caster Sugar
- ¾ cup (175ml) Vegan Yogurt
- 3 tbsp instant Espresso Powder dissolved in 2 tbsp boiling water
- ¼ cup 55g Vegan Spread
- 3 tbsp Vegan Milk
- 4 teaspoon Instant Espresso Powder
- 1¾ cup (225g) Icing Sugar, sifted
- Preheat oven to 180c. Grease and line an 8” square baking tin.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder.
- Beat in the spread, sugar, substitute egg mixture and coffee.
- Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cake springs back to the touch.
- Leave to cool.
- To make the icing, melt together the spread, milk and espresso powder until the powder has dissolved and you have a smooth mixture.
- Pour over the sifted icing sugar and beat well until there are no lumps left.
- Pour over the cooled cake. Leave to set, then cut into squares and enjoy!