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Woodland animal ginger cake - this impressive vegan ginger cake with lemon curd, cream cheese frosting and whimsical gingerbread woodland animals is a real festive showstopper for Christmas! #vegan #Christmas #gingerbread

Vegan Woodland Animal Ginger Cake

Woodland animal ginger cake - this impressive vegan ginger cake with lemon curd, cream cheese frosting and whimsical gingerbread woodland animals is a real festive showstopper for Christmas!
Course Dessert
Cuisine baking, British, vegan
Keyword ginger cake
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 14 people
Author Domestic Gothess

Ingredients

Vegan Gingerbread Animal Biscuits:

  • 100 g (3.5 oz) coconut oil or dairy free margarine (I like to use half of each)
  • 80 g (1/3 + 1/8 cup) light brown soft sugar
  • 50 g (2 Tbsp) golden syrup
  • 25 g (1 Tbsp) treacle or molasses
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 240 g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour

Vegan Royal Icing:

  • 235 g (2 + 1/3 cups) icing (powdered) sugar sifted
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp aquafaba
  • black gel food colouring optional

Vegan Ginger Cakes:

  • 450 g (3 + 3/4 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour sifted
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 4 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp mixed spice (pumpkin spice)
  • 160 g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 160 ml (2/3 cup) sunflower oil
  • 200 g (7oz) golden syrup
  • 200 g (7oz) treacle
  • 360 ml (1 1/2 cups) boiling water

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 125 g (4.5 oz) vegetable shortening (I use Trex)
  • 125 g (4.5 oz) dairy free cream cheese (full fat - I use Asda's own brand)
  • 575 g (5 + 3/4 cups) icing (powdered) sugar sifted
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

To Decorate:

  • 1/2 batch vegan lemon curd https://domesticgothess.com/blog/2017/09/12/vegan-lemon-curd/ optional
  • sugared cranberries (see above for instructions)
  • rosemary sprigs
  • hazelnuts, pecans and pumpkin seeds
  • wooden skewers

Instructions

Vegan Gingerbread Animals:

  1. Place the golden syrup, treacle, light brown sugar, coconut oil or margarine and  water in a pan.

  2. Heat gently while stirring until the coconut oil/margarine has melted. Whisk in the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and bicarbonate of soda then stir in the plain flour until it forms a soft dough and no pockets of flour remain.

  3. Allow to cool a little then bring the mixture together into a ball (it will still be very soft), wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for about an hour until it is firm enough to roll out.
  4. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 4mm thick and cut out animal and tree shapes with the cookie cutters of your choice.
  5. Re-roll the trimmings and cut out more shapes then place them well spaced apart on a couple of baking trays. Pop the trays in the freezer for twenty minutes while you heat up the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

  6. Bake the biscuits for 8-12 minutes, until they are just beginning to darken around the edges then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

Vegan Royal Icing:

  1. To make the royal icing, mix the little lemon juice and aquafaba into the sifted icing sugar until it forms a thick but pourable consistency. If you drizzle some back into the bowl the pattern should disappear after about 8-10 seconds. If it is too thick then stir in a little more aquafaba or lemon juice, and if it is too runny then mix in some more sifted icing sugar.

  2. Spoon it into a piping bag fitted with a small writing nozzle. Ice the ginger biscuits as you like then leave them to dry. Once they are dry you can add a bit of detailing with a fine paintbrush dipped in black gel food colouring if you like.
  3. Once the icing is dry the biscuits can be stored in an airtight container for at least a week.

Vegan Ginger Cakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease three 20cm/8in round cake tins and line the bases with baking parchment.

  2. Whisk together the sifted plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, mixed spice, caster sugar and salt in a large bowl.

  3. Add the golden syrup, treacle, sunflower oil and boiling water to the bowl and whisk until no lumps of flour remain.

  4. Divide the batter between the prepared tins and bake for about 25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

  5. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Don't make the buttercream until you are ready to assemble the cake. Whisk together the vegetable shortening and dairy free cream cheese until smooth.

  2. Add the sifted icing sugar, fresh lemon juice and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. If the frosting is too soft then you can whisk in some more sifted icing sugar; and if it is too stiff then you can add a drop more lemon juice or a little non-dairy milk.

  3. Transfer a third of the buttercream to a disposable piping bag and snip off the tip, or place it in a regular piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle.

Assembly:

  1. Trim the tops of the cake layers to level them (a cake wire is best for this) then place one layer on a serving platter or board.

  2. Spread over a thin layer of the buttercream then pipe a wide ring of buttercream around the edge of the cake. You can also add a blob in the middle to help make the cake more sturdy (I didn't do this but in hindsight I should have done!).

  3. Spread a couple of spoonfuls of lemon curd inside the ring of buttercream, making sure not to overfill it.
  4. Spread a thin layer of buttercream over the bottom of one of the remaining cake layers and place it on top. Repeat the same steps as before.
  5. Spread a thin layer of buttercream over the TOP of the final cake layer and place it on the cake upside down to give you a flat surface.
  6. Spread a layer of buttercream over the top and sides of the cake, use a bench scraper or palette knife to get the sides smooth but leave the top rough so it looks snowy.

  7. Cut a slit in the top of the cake where you want each of the trees to go and press a tree trunk into each one. Insert a wooden skewer into the cake close behind each tree to hold them up. (You will probably need to trim the skewers a bit to get the right height but make sure that they will go all the way through the cake and leave enough sticking out to hold the trees up.)

  8. Use blobs of any leftover frosting to stick animal biscuits around the cake and place one on top of the cake (I just leant my fox against one of the trees).

  9. Add sugared cranberries, sprigs of rosemary, hazelnuts, pecans and pumpkin seeds to complete the look.

  10. Best served the day it is assembled but any leftovers will keep in an airtight container for up to five days.

Recipe Notes

  • You will need 1/2 batch of my vegan lemon curd (optional) - if you need the cake to travel then don't use it as it makes the cake less stable. It is very delicious though!
  • For the best results make sure that you follow the recipe closely. As always, I highly recommend using the gram measurements (with a digital scale), rather than the cup conversions. Cup measurements are simply not accurate enough for baking and I cannot guarantee the best results if you use them.