Seattle and Cake

Space NeedleAs much as I love my home city of Portland, I’ve pretty much always got a chronic case of wanderlust, and so there’s nothing like a couple days out of town to shake off the dust of routine and get me feeling fresh and happy to be home again once the trip is through. This past week, DG and I hightailed it up to Seattle, where we had the chance to reconnect with some great friends, as well as take advantage of some of the city’s excellent eats and drinks. (I’ve spotlighted some of our best finds at the bottom of this post. Check it out!)

We had the great good fortune of being able to be temporary lords of the manor (and cat-sitters) at a friend’s house up there while they were in the land down under. The chief benefit of this arrangement, aside from the palatial setting (compared to our one-bedroom apartment), was that we were able to entertain a big group of friends and host a pot luck dinner – I didn’t feel quite up to the task of cooking for everyone in someone else’s kitchen, but wanted to get everyone together for good times on our own turf. Luckily, with this crowd, I knew would be a stomach-pleasing endeavor, and indeed it was.

Ask a few food lovers to bring a little something to eat, and you end up with a true feast. We had a smorgasbord of breads, cheeses, olives, and exotic charcuterie set out for people to nibble while they awaited the roast goat (my first taste of goat! delicious!), Greek macaroni and cheese, ceviche, and various garden salads. My contribution to the effort was a turnip green tart – a successful first attempt for me – and an easy chocolate cake for dessert.

As I mentioned before, I was a little tentative about cooking in someone else’s kitchen, especially when I knew I would want to be spending some quality time with my friends that I don’t see often enough, so I had to pick something simple. This chocolate cake is among the easiest and most satisfying desserts I’ve ever made, and it’s always a hit. And here’s the big reveal: it’s actually vegan. That’s right, no eggs, no dairy, nada. I’m as skeptical – no, probably more – as the next omnivore of desserts made without butter or eggs, but this cake satisfies and then some. There are three easy steps: sift together all the dry ingredients, mix up all the wet ingredients (except the vinegar), blend these two together, add the vinegar, pop in oven. The key is making sure you minimize the time between adding the vinegar and getting the cake into the oven, because you want to make the most of the baking soda-vinegar reaction (remember your middle school volcano?).

I like to serve it slightly cooled with just a dusting of powdered sugar. To sprinkle daintily, take a mesh strainer or sieve (even a tea strainer works fine), scoop a couple of tablespoons of powdered sugar into it, and gently tap the edge as you move it over a slice of cake. Très élégant.

Deep Chocolate Vegan Cake

SPOTLIGHT ON SEATTLE:

Here are some culinary highlights of our trip!

* A stop at Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle, where the pain au chocolat sent me back to my days in Paris and the macarons were the perfect blend of crust and smooth flavor in between.
Bakery Nouveau Treats

* New Orleans-themed breakfast at Coastal Kitchen, featuring steamy beignets dusted with powdered sugar and balanced with a bold cup of chicory coffee, followed gluttonously by blow-your-mind good corned beef hash. The accompanying biscuit was like a buttery cloud.
Beignets

Corned Beef Hash

It was so good I went into attack mode before remembering to take a photo. Sorry.

* A Cajun blackened salmon sandwich from the local institution, Ballard Brothers. Not pictured: the amazing onion rings that were bigger than your average cat head and breaded to crispy perfection. Don’t leave without tasting them.
Ballard Brothers

6 Comments

  1. Rachel says:

    Yum! I would definitely like to try this. I have a vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe on my website that is also surprisingly good. Also, love the vegan peanut butter cookies at Whole Foods – would give anything for that recipe. Looking forward to making this.

  2. Deirdre says:

    Can’t wait to try it!

  3. Deirdre says:

    Oops! I was referring to the cake recipe. I love chocolate and quick and easy recipes!

  4. casacaudill says:

    I absolutely adore Seattle and could definitely see us living there quite happily someday. Now what to do about this Oakland mortgage …

    :-)

  5. Devani says:

    Hi Audrey,
    So looking forward to making the choco cake! I went to make it as a surprise for Tule, but alas, I couldn’t find my cocoa powder! Soon!
    xx

  6. Nora says:

    Great post! Since I’m moving to Seattle next fall I’ll be sure to visit Bakery Nouveau sometime :)

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