I did it again. That "sure, no problem" thing.
A new vegetarian cafe is opening in Leeds next week and is interested in stocking some of my cakes as a trial. This a A Good Thing - a potential 4th outlet for my stuff. However, they'd like vegan cakes.
I was a vegetarian for a good few years. I still claim to be a veggie because it stops people serving me meat but I'm not vegetarian because I eat fish and am not nearly so worried about rennet and so on these days. I love veggie cafes - the old cooperative Roots and Fruits was one of my favourite haunts; it's great to have a decent choice of things for lunch apart from cheese or egg sandwiches. I like vegetarianism and love heaps of vegetarians. I love my vegan pals too (waves at Ali and Kram).
I have a number of dairy free recipes that are wonderful. They produce lovely, long-lasting cake with a delicate and moist crumb. I'm totally fine making dairy free cakes.
It's eggs. I don't like cakes without egg in. They aren't fun to make (at least in my experience so far.) They aren't as reliable and the texture isn't right. Those I've had in cafes have been rather heavy, wholemeal-y and worthy. Cake can be a lot of things but it really oughtn't be worthy.
Then there are our 9 free range hens in the back garden - as spoilt a bunch of birds I've met. They looked under the weather so I was making them porridge with Marmite and calcium earlier this week (Yes I know it sounds vile but they love it and it is ferociously good for them). Our household eggs come from them and my business eggs come from a lovely free range flock that the extremely ace Ian Taylor keeps. I know veganism is more complicated than just animal welfare but I do think the eggs I use come from very well looked-after chickens.
Eggless cake recipes are often American, with things we find harder to source here. Heaps of them call for apple sauce, which is not sold in the gigantic jars in the supermarket like is was in Canada when I grew up. I don't have time to make my own applesauce before making my own cakes. Some recipes call for cane juice, egg replacer, or xanthan gum (I have no idea what that is).
So there I am, talking on the phone to the nice woman about her new cafe and saying "Sure, no problem," in answer to her request for vegan chocolate cakes while inwardly shouting Oh Bloody Hell, How'm I Going To Manage That?? (Recipes and suggestions welcome!)
And that is how, instead of having a morning off, I will be spending tomorrow experimenting with vegan recipes.