My week has been one of the rockiest emotional roller coasters! It started on a somber note when I witnessed a young mother and baby in distress at Waitrose...then it got just that bit worse when we found out our PayPal account had been restricted due to one offending cake in our cake collection. Just the one. Can you guess which one? It’s the pistachio cake!
The problem is pistachios!
What’s the problem with pistachios you ask? We thought it had to be a spam-hoax type email but it looked very officio-legit so we rang up PayPal to get clarification and were told that...okay wait, before I explain you need to hold on to something or grab a seat cuz it’s totally bonkers...ready??
Due to sanctions placed by the US government on Iran, any items vaguely in connection to Iran is banned and will be restricted.
What the Falafel?!?
As soon as we were told this we kinda laughed because it sounded totally nuts...hah (pun intended). I mean, it would be funny if it wasn’t tragic for so many reasons. Politics of such foreign policies aside, this has directly impacted our small business in the UK - the cake is one of our best sellers and we were unable to access the cash from the sales which put us in a difficult position. Not to mention spending all that time on trying to sort the situation out!
It then made the news too...From The Guardian:
The real kicker is this though - our pistachios were assumed to be from Iran... when in fact they are from the US! Queue, two days’ worth of face palming and gathering invoices and proof from our suppliers on the origin of the pistachios, and finally having our account restrictions lifted.
My faith in humanity was already floundering and at an all-time low...until I went forward with my first #cakeforthought auction to raise funds for the Trussell Trust Charity food banks on Instagram! I had my heart in my mouth thinking there would be no bids and I as so shocked, I actually couldn’t believe, it got 15 bids starting from the humble base of £15 to a WHOPPING £160!! The winning bidder was the kind Nicky from @fromnickyskitchen who, to my surprise, is another talented cake maker! I’m surprised because it’s completely caught me off guard that a fellow cake maker would get on board to support too - my heart is bursting with allllll the feeeeeels. So thank you so very much Nicky for your donation to the Trussell Trust food bank - every single penny from the winning bid went to the very worthy cause.
Thank you to everyone else so very much for your generous bids. And even if you weren’t able to bid, every like and every comment of support helps raise the post’s reach via Instagram’s algorithm which does wonders for awareness. If I have learnt anything through this, it’s that awareness is nothing to be cynical about - had I been aware of the very important contribution charities like The Trussell Trust food banks make to the lives of distressed families perhaps I would’ve been able to offer some practical help to the mother I saw at Waitrose at her time of need instead of walking away!
If you would have loved to have had the cake but missed out, I am sharing the recipe of the cake - it does require some intermediate cake decorating skills but the sponge and drizzle are super easy too so you could definitely use this recipe to make the best ever vegan lemon drizzle cake (pistachios are umm...optional!!!).
Vegan Lemon and Pistachio Cake Recipe
Difficulty Level: Easy/Intermediate (easy if you just follow the vegan lemon sponge and drizzle recipe, and intermediate if you'd like to go the whole nine yards with decorating with vegan buttercream)
Time: approx. 2 hours (including bake and chill time)
Servings: approx. 10 portions
Vegan Lemon Sponge
For 3x 6 inch round sponges
500g self raising flour
365g caster sugar
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
2 lemons, juiced and zested separately
180ml vegetable oil
365ml water, cold
1. Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius degrees (fan-assisted) and prepare three 6 inch round cake tins by brushing with oil and a light even sprinkling of flour.
2. Sift the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, briskly whisk together the wet ingredients (lemon juice, zest, oil and water). Once mixed, stir into the dry ingredients in a steady pace and mix until combined into a smooth batter.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the three cake tins and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
5. Once baked, remove from oven and let cool in the tins for 10 minutes before releasing them onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
85g caster sugar
2 lemons, juiced and zested separately
1. Mix the caster sugar, water, and lemon juice together in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Once dissolved, bring to the boil over high heat for a few minutes until it thickens slightly to a light syrupy state.
2. Take off the heat and stir the lemon zest into the syrup.
3. Poke holes over the lemon sponges with a skewer. Brush the syrup over the sponges lightly.
You can now serve this as a simple and delicious vegan lemon drizzle cake or layer them up with vegan frosting as shown below.
250g vegan butter or margarine (I prefer using 50-50 Stork baking block and Trex shortening)
500g icing sugar
1 tablespoon dairy-free milk of your choice (I use a mix of almond and coconut milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1. In a stand mixer bowl, whisk the margarine until light and fluffy, then gradually add in the icing sugar.
2. Add in the dairy-free milk and vanilla extract and pinch of salt
Decorating the Vegan Lemon and Pistachio Cake
Gel Paste food colours in pink, yellow and green (Sugarflair gel paste food colours are vegan friendly. For this cake I have used Fuschia, Daffodil and Kiwi)
A handful of pistachios - chopped
4-5 strawberries, optional
1. Smear some buttercream on a cake board, preferable a few inches larger than the size of the cake sponge. Place 1 vegan lemon sponge cake layer and smooth vegan buttercream over using a cranked spatula or palette knife. Once smoothed, sprinkle some chopped pistachios over evenly and place the next layer on top and repeat.
2. Once the two layers have been sandwiched, place the third layer on top and smooth the vegan frosting all around and over the top using the palette knife. Place in the fridge to set for 5-10 minutes.
3. Divide the remaining buttercream into 3 bowls and mix in the pink, yellow and green colours to create beautiful pastel shades.
4. Using the palette knife, dab the various colours around the cake. Using the edge of the palette knife, or a pastry/cake scraper, smooth the buttercream over.
5. Sprinkle crushed pistachios on top and along the base. If you'd like you can dress it up further by preparing 3 piping bags with various piping tips such as a large French Savoy, Medium Open Star and Small Drop Flower nozzles, spoon in dollops of the buttercream into each bag and pipe swirls, stars and blossoms on the frosted cake.
6. You can go one step further by adding fresh fruit such as strawberries on top.
And there you have it! A delicious vegan lemon drizzle with pistachio cake to wow with!
If you've followed this recipe please do share your results by tagging me @angesdesucre #angesdesucre on Instagram so I can have a peek! It always makes me so very happy to see your beautiful creations.
Lots of love,