Question: Okay, so I’ve caught on to the vegan meal part of catering. I make an incredible assortment of vegan canapés, a tofu tetrazzini that’s famous in three counties, and bountiful breads. I prepare poached pears in cinnamon-wine sauce that has apples jumping off the tree and volunteering, and my mango, passion fruit, and Meyer lemon sorbet medley has them begging for more. But I’m stumped when it comes to elegant vegan cakes, especially wedding cakes. Help!
Answer: The cake seems to be the single most difficult item for most vegan caterers. You have several options:
1. If it’s appropriate, you may want to see if a tofu cheesecake or vegan pound cake served with sorbet might fit your client’s needs. For non-wedding events, an amaretto tofu cheesecake or blueberry pound cake with raspberry sorbet may be acceptable. Other “noncake” ideas would be pecan brownies (there are vegan brownie mixes) with French vanilla soy ice cream, vanilla and chocolate macaroons with sorbet, or orange sorbet served inside an orange shell.
2. If you have a relationship with a local baker, you might ask if he/she might be willing to work with you to develop a recipe that uses Egg Replacer (from Ener-G Foods), ground flaxseeds, or tofu to replace eggs, as well as vegan milk for cow’s milk, and vegan sweeteners, such as maple syrup, orange juice concentrate, or date sugar to replace white sugar (which may be processed with bone char). Once you’ve developed the recipe, both you and the baker will benefit from increased sales.
3. Try an elegant cupcake tower. We got this idea after attending a vegan wedding. The bride’s father had constructed an elegant, multi-shelved open tower, about the same size as a three-tiered wedding cake. The bride’s mother baked cupcakes, fruit tarts, and individual tofu cheesecakes in several flavors, using silver and gold cupcake papers. Each piece was frosted and decorated with an edible flower. When the “tower” was assembled, it was beautiful! There were enough pieces for each guest to enjoy dessert at the wedding and take a piece home as a memento. To get an idea of how this can look, visit www.mountainmagicevents.com/vegancake.htm. You can use vegan whipped creme for frosting. Whipped silken tofu or soy cream cheese or margarine with dry sweetener can be flavored with vanilla, orange, lemon, or almond extract and whipped for nondairy, non-sugar frostings. Crave Natural Foods (www.craveorganic.com or (413) 292-2011) has an “Un-Real Whipped Creammm” that is nondairy and organic. Crave also sells a soft soy cheese that is ready to be piped onto vegetables or crackers for your appetizers.
4. We’re very excited about this website that provides information on vegan wedding cake bakers in many states, with over 200 listings.
5. We’ve included a vegan cake recipe in this issue. If you have the time and the experience, you may want to try your hand at baking and decorating a wedding cake of your own.
6. If your clients are open to new ideas, you could propose a huge sorbet sundae. For display, you could create a 50 or 60 scoop sundae, decorated with fresh berries, carob or chocolate chips, syrups, and chopped nuts. For service, have individual sundae glasses ready to go, with a small amount of syrup in the bottom. Your wait staff can scoop from the display sundae for quick service.
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