Vegan in LA

By on Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Sometimes dietary restrictions can make it hard to enjoy the finer things in life…like cupcakes. But in LA, things became just a little bit easier for the dietarily-restricted cupcake lover with the opening of Babycakes earlier this month. This New York transplant serves up the sweets with the health and allergy-conscious in mind – all of their offerings are egg, soy and dairy-free, and many are refined sugar and gluten-free as well. While their ingredients are restricted, their menu has plenty of options. Babycakes features red velvet, vanilla, carrot and chocolate cupcakes along with a plethora of cookies, crumb cakes, muffins and other delicious baked goods.

Just this last Friday, Beverly Hills’ haute-cupcake bakery Sprinkles jumped into the game with the introduction of their vegan and gluten-free red velvet cupcake.  Is this the start of a health-conscious cupcake war in LA?  If so, I can tell you right now: the cupcake lovers will be the winners.

Vegan Iced Tea Cupcakes

By on Thursday, April 16th, 2009

I originally posted this recipe over at my blog, Bake and Destroy. As the story goes, my mother in law Jo is obsessed with powdered ice tea. She simply cannot get enough of it. I wanted to make frosting with the iced tea powder she loves, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. So instead, I made her these dairy-free tea cupcakes with vegan lemon buttercream. They’re perfect for a spring cook out, which is exactly how we’re celebrating her birthday this week end! So enjoy the cupcakes, and happy birthday, Jo! We love you!

For the cupcakes you will need:

  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 4-6 iced tea teabags*
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup soy yogurt (plain or vanilla)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract**
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour***
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

*Use 4 bags if you just want to say they’re iced tea cupcakes, use 6 or more bags if you want to know it.
** Replace up to 1/2 tsp of this measurement with a flavor complimentary to ice tea- lemon, orange, mint, etc. I’d recommend 1/4 tsp if you’re using something as strong as mint or citrus oil.
***These are very moist cakes. Not fall-apart moist, but they stay squishy for a long time. If you want something a little more firm to the touch up this measurement to 1 1/2 cups of flour.

Then you:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line tin with cupcake liners. In a small saucepan heat soymilk till almost boiling, add tea bags, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. When ready to use stir teabags and thoroughly squeeze to insure as much tea is dissolved in milk as possible.

In a large bowl whisk together oil, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, lemon oil, zest and tea mixture until all yogurt lumps disappear. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix until large lumps disappear; some small lumps are okay. Fill tins full and bake about 20 to 22 minutes until a sharp knife inserted comes out clean.

For the lemon buttercream you will need:

  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup margarine, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp fresh grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Then you:

In a small bowl, cream the shortening and margarine until well combined. Add the sugar in 1/2 cup additions. After each addition add a splash of lemon juice and beat well with a handheld mixer. Add vanilla and beat for another 3-5 minutes until smooth, creamy and fluffy. I stuck cut-off straws in some of these and topped the rest with a sprig of organic mint.

Viva la Vegan Cupcakes with The Urban Housewife!

By on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

One simply cannot speak of vegan cupcakes without a solid reference to The Urban Housewife. Known as Melisser to her nearest and dearest, The Urban Housewife has been changing the way we think of vegan baked goods since 2007. With each post to her Veg Bloggy Award-winning site, thousands of fans tune in to see where she’s been and what she ate. From Berlin to New York to Stockholm, she’s been everywhere, eaten every vegan thing and lived to blog about it.

I asked Melisser to give our readers a sampling of some of her tastiest vegan cupcake adventures and she put together a list of 10 fab places to snag a vegan cupcake. The list, she stresses, is in no particular order.

Oh, and she was too humble to mention it, but one place you’re sure to find a delicious vegan treat is Melisser’s own commercial kitchen- Sugar Beat Sweets. If you’re in the San Francisco area be sure to hit her up for some Snickerdoodle cupcakes!

Ten places you might just spot Melisser eating vegan cupcakes:

1. Vegan Treats, Bethlehem, PA & throughout the East Coast
Known throughout the vegan land for their Peanut Butter Bombs, Vegan Treats also serves up a selection of other fine pastries. After years of wholesale throughout the East Coast, owner Danielle Konya opened a retail store where you can get your cupcake on.

2. Sweet Avenue Bake Shop, Rutherford, NJ

Cupcakes are the heart of this shop where you’ll find everything from Fleur de Sel Caramel cupcakes to Bacon Maple Walnut cupcakes, all vegan of course!

The Bleeding Heart Bakery, Chicago

The Bleeding Heart Bakery, Chicago

3. The Bleeding Heart Bakery, Chicago, IL

While not everything in the packed pastry cases is vegan, a hearty selection of cupcakes await you at this all organic, 100% punk rock bakery!

4. Cupcake, Berlin, Germany
If you find yourself in Berlin, don’t forget to stop in Germany’s 1st cupcake shop where you’ll be transported back to the 50’s in this retro shop where vegan options are available daily.
5. S’nice, Brooklyn & Manhattan, NY

Whether you’re looking for a cosy place to chill, a delicious sandwich, or a sweet treat, S’nice delivers with their cupcake, baked in house & available daily.

6. Babycakes, New York City, NY & West Hollywood, CA

Not your traditional cupcake, Babycakes spelt or gluten free cupcakes caters to those with allergies or looking for a wholesome cupcake.

7. Sticky Fingers Bakery, Washington DC

Sticky Fingers may be better known for their massive cinnamon rolls, but the cupcake selection won’t disappoint at this bakery churning out a full selection of cruelty free confections!

Cupcake, Berlin; Berlin

Cupcake, Berlin, Germany

8. Pattycake Bakery, Columbus, OH
Pattycake started out making cookies for a local co-op, but now has a full selection of vegan treats, including cupcakes, that you can snag from their storefront or the upcoming online ordering system!

9. Watercourse Bakery, Denver, CO
Not only Ho Ho Cupcakes should tempt you to try this all vegan bakery, as a full selection of sweets are available. For those with allergies, they specialize in gluten free options.

10. Golden Mean Vegan Cafe, Santa Monica, CA

The food may not blow you away at this vegan eatery with a LA hippie vibe, but the desserts are no crunchy granola & their decadence will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth!

What to Feed a Vegan Kiwi with City the NZ Cupcake Queen

By on Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Today I’m happy to bring you this Kiwi’s Guide to Vegan Cupcakes by City the NZ Cupcake Queen. Most of you are probably already familiar with City’s sweet cakes and her not-so-sweet Etsy shop, but did you know that she also happens to be a fab vegan baker? I asked my friend from the other side of the world to put together a sampler of what it’s like to be a vegan sweet tooth in New Zealand. All flattering statements about myself were totally unsolicited but deeply appreciated.

When my kickass friend and fellow cupcake baker Natalie asked me to write a piece for ATC’s vegan week I was super stoked. I love cupcakes- I love being a vegan and I love eating vegan cupcakes.

Plus, how could I say no to the lady who hooked me up with tickets to a Rise Against show and helped me meet the band who I had the bonus of giving my vegan cupcakes to? That lady is connected!

Thinking about what I could share with ATC readers really got me thinking about how my switch to a vegan lifestyle will affect my long-term love affair with cupcakes. I was the NZ Cupcake Queen before I was vegan,., so how about a brief history?

At the milestone of turning 30 I recently made the choice to go vegan after being a vegetarian for a large part of my 20’s. Over the past year I found myself eating less and less dairy products and eggs, which lead me to review my diet. Why couldn’t I commit to a vegan diet when I was pretty much eating vegan 99% of the time?

My answer? Not being able to eat my own cupcakes!

Those dainty, beautiful, tasty little cakes captured my attention 5 years ago and have grown to be a huge part of my life. As my love for cupcakes grew, so did my ability to bake and decorate. Soon I was actually making cupcakes that were not only delicious but looked pretty cool too (and less like a 3 year old decorated them!)

I started my NZ Cupcake Queen blog in 2007 and never looked back. I was surprised when my blog started to get fans other than my friends and co-workers. I was soon selling my cupcakes at craft shows and taking orders from people wanting MY cakes at their parties.

Changing to a fully vegan diet meant I had to give up eating my own cupcakes and reconsider how I went about my baking overall. It was a huge choice to make, but I had been experimenting with plenty of vegan cupcake recipes to realize that vegan doesn’t have to mean dry or tasteless cupcakes. It would be a change, but I wouldn’t miss out!

My commitment to a vegan diet has been a wonderful opportunity to explore a whole new world of vegan baking and learn simple but tasty ways to get around the traditional ingredients of butter, eggs and milk. Vegan baking is adventurous and fun.

While I have made the switch to a vegan diet, I am still making and selling some non-vegan cupcakes. Its a tricky situation – I’m personally moving away from traditional animal product-based baking and I have a goal of vegan-izing all the cupcakes I sell.

But its a very slow process experimenting with recipes and while I’m being all mad scientist in the kitchen doing so, the people who are fans of my cupcakes still want to buy them and love the flavours I make. I’m not about to be a jerk to the very people who’ve helped me build my reputation. So for now I am continuing to bake non-vegan flavours until I can replace them. I just can’t eat them myself.

OK, so that’s probably enough about the NZ Cupcake Queen. How about something useful like some tips, especially for the New Zealanders out there!


Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

There are plenty of awesome vegan cookbooks on the market but this one is much loved favourite of vegan and non-vegan cupcake lovers. Even before I was vegan, I got my hands on a copy when it first came out and was hooked. The recipes are amazing and Isa and Terry have a talent for creating delicious vegan cupcakes that are far from boring.

The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

This was a more recent discovery but it’s become my new kitchen bible. It covers all the possible questions I could come up with when it comes to vegan-izing baking and trust me, I’m one of those annoying people who asks LOTS of questions.

Both these books are helpful in getting you to think outside the square with baking and are a great jumping off point for you to head off on your own adventures in the kitchen and try out new flavours. Get your hands on a copy from your local bookseller, Amazon or other online store.

For those impatient people like me, while you wait for that Amazon order to ship, you can visit the My Vegan Kitchen blog. You’ll find an easy to read run down on some of the basic ingredients you’ll need to get you started baking vegan cupcakes.


Huckleberry Farms Wholefoods Supermarket

This is the place to go for tracking down lots of the ingredients used in vegan cupcake recipes. They sell many brands of Agave nectar (which is an excellent alternative to sugar in baking), egg replacers, ground flaxseed and tofu – just some of the clever ingredients you’ll soon be popping into your vegan cupcakes.

Other than being obsessed with cupcakes, I am also a chocolate addict and love chocolate cupcakes. Going vegan doesn’t mean missing out. Most dark chocolate is diary-free and vegan-friendly (although you do have to be careful of some companies like Cadbury who still sneak in milk solids). New Zealanders don’t have the luxury of the range of vegan-friendly chocolates available in America, but you can find the Australian Sweet William brand here.

They make pretty darn tasty and dairy free milk chocolate and white chocolate. I find Huckleberry Farms are the best place to track it down but you can find it at some regular supermarkets. If you’re lucky they sometimes have large packs of diary free white chocolate buttons or chips. And for those of you not in Auckland or just feeling lazy, you can even order via the website. Sweet!

S.A.F.E. Cruelty Free Shop

Another good place to pick up some vegan friendly chocolates and other supplies is the S.A.F.E. Shop in Auckland. I’ve heard from a couple of vegan friends that they’ve scored the large bags of Sweet William chocolate chips and buttons there too.


I’m lucky enough to have come across some awesome Kiwi bloggers who are not only rad vegans, but huge cupcake fans.

Friend or Doe

Ginny runs the wonderful boutique down in Wellington also has this little gem of a personal blog covering veganism, fashion and design. She’s a big fan of cupcakes so check out her recipe for white chocolate and cranberry vegan cupcakes.

An Auckland Vegan

I found Moira’s blog through Ginny and I am hooked. It’s been a wonderful resource as a fellow vegan Aucklander. Moira is always finding new vegan friendly treats to share with her readers. The highlight for me are her reviews of the cupcakes made by local cafe Revel!


146 Karangahape Rd, Auckland CBD

Speaking of Revel, head along to this lovely quirky little cafe to get your hands on one of their vegan cupcakes. They change the flavours every day so its just luck of the draw- which treat you’ll get. We popped in there today and got to try a delicious chocolate berry vegan cupcake. They always have vegan friendly items on the menu and a pretty decadent chocolate cake too!

NZ Cupcake Queen

And of course, I can’t do a vegan cupcake blog post on All Things Cupcake without doing a bit of shameless self-promotion! If you’re an Auckland vegan looking for moist, tasty vegan cupcakes with generous helpings of frosting, the NZ Cupcake Queen has what you need.

You can visit me at the Kraftbomb Craft Show on the last Sunday of every month at the Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn. 11am – 2pm. Be warned, the cupcakes sell out fast so be there early to avoid disappointment!

I always try to have a couple of vegan cupcake flavours each month and I’m working my way up to more and more of my most popular cupcakes being vegan-ized for your eating pleasure! The most popular vegan flavours with my vegan (and non-vegan!) customers are cookies and cream, peanut butter chocolate and good old plain chocolate! And hopefully I’ll have vegan versions of the other favourites like Jaffa, Red Bull and Caramel!

A big thanks to All Things Cupcake for asking me to do a post for their Vegan Week. I hope its inspired both vegans and non-vegans alike to have a go at making some vegan cupcakes and proven that going vegan doesn’t have to mean the death of cupcakes. So what are you waiting for? Get off your butt and get baking!

NZCQ xoxo

Vegans Mean Business at The Bleeding Heart Bakery

By on Monday, April 13th, 2009

Chicago vegans know where to go when they need some sugar – take the Damen bus to Belmont and stop when you see the giant neon sign: The Bleeding Heart Bakery. Since 2005, owner and executive pastry chef Michelle Garcia, along with her husband Vinnie and a staff of punky young bakers have been baking up local, sustainable and organic treats for vegans and dairy-eaters alike. I asked Michelle about her experiences both as a former vegan and as a professional chef catering to vegan customers. Her answers proved a point I already knew was true in my heart- vegans are hungry, they have money, and they want to buy your delicious vegan treats. So bakery owners, listen up: get yourself a great vegan recipe book pronto.

Do you remember the first vegan dessert you ever tasted?
That would be the German chocolate cake from Chicago Diner.

If so, what did you think about it?
At the time, I was so excited to be able to have a birthday cake that I didn’t care about how it tasted, so I guess I don’t even remember.

If not, do you think it’s better that you don’t remember it?
*I’m pretty sure the answer is yes, definitely.

Your original location on Chicago Ave was a hit with vegans from day one- what made you decide to offer vegan treats right off the bat?
I had spent half of my life at that point as a vegan, and I knew that the type of bakery we were would attract a lot of vegans. Also, I know that a lot of children are born with egg and milk allergies; I wanted to be sure that all children could have an amazing birthday cake no matter what.

Have you ever had a vegan baker working in one of your shops?
I’ve had several vegan bakers. However, I feel as though most of them were inhibited by old school beliefs about baking vegan.

Did mainly work on your vegan goods, or were they OK with making your non-vegan stuff as well?
Most seemed to turn there noses up at non-vegan goods, which was really frustrating as I was vegan for so long and saw everything as education and knowledge whether I personally believed in it or not.

Would it be difficult for a vegan to properly prepare your other treats without tasting them?
Our basic recipes are very simple and east to follow, if you understand the basic principles behind baking techniques, you should be able to make anything. Also, no one at the bakery minds tasting anything, so there are no excuses.

What do you think the biggest misconception about vegan desserts is?
Most people automatically think vegan means dry, flavorless cardboard and granola-ish.

What do you do with your vegan yummies to de-bunk the misconceptions?
I believe our approach is much different than most. All vegan recipes start as conventional and get tweeked to be vegan. We try very hard not to use traditional flavorless substitutes. When we have to make a substitute, we want it to add something- like bananas.

Is it any more difficult to find vegan organic ingredients than it is to find non-vegan organic ingredients?
Honestly, now a days, it is much easier. But when we first started we had to buy everything retail.

What’s your most popular vegan dessert?
That would be between the banana fudge brownie and the Slash Cupcake. (Devils food cupcake, chocolate frosting and curly chocolate shavings)

Does it seem like the demand for vegan baked goods has increased over the years?
For sure, mostly with little children.

I always hear people say that vegan cakes are dry, what are people doing wrong when they bake?
They are using substitutes such as Ener-G that act as a drying agent. Any kind of starch will do that. Try using a banana or possibly just leaving out the substitutes all together! You could also substitute oil for margarine or Earth Balance.

If Joe Blow off the street were blindfolded and asked to taste two of your chocolate cupcakes- one vegan and one conventional, do you think he could tell the difference?
I know he wouldn’t. We’ve actually done this! The vegan cupcake won every time, so now that’s all we offer!

Do you find that non-vegans are open to trying vegan desserts, or are they scared?
Most seemed to be scared, but love them when they try them accidentally, that happens almost every day – especially with the cupcake.

Do you think it’s important for a modern bakery to offer at least one vegan option?
It’s incredibly important, why alienate people? Were always trying to offer product that spans the board for allergies, we just started offering vegan sugar free options and believe it is so important.

Have you thought about making vegan versions of any of your famous bacon-infused treats, with vegan bacon?
We tried; it’s just not the same. As a vegan I never enjoyed fake meat and I guess that just followed me.

What’s the hardest thing about baking without dairy?
Running out of soymilk! It happens all the time! Even when I double the order. I think we have little vegan gnomes drinking it all.

What about pastry- can you make a vegan croissant?
You can, but margarine gets soft really fast and all the fat leaks out. We did, however, just start making vegan brioche, which rocks!

Is it harder to make dairy-free pastry than it is to bake vegan cakes and cookies?
Not really harder physically- harder mentally, it requires a lot of thought.

Were you ever vegan?
Yes, 7 years straight ad a few others here and there.

What made you go vegan?
I was raised vegetarian for the most part and became an extremist at a very young age. I don’t believe in doing something half way.

Finally, how many vegan cupcakes do you think you sell in a week?
Well, we have recently counted this, it’s 800 I’m the shop and another 200-300 in special orders.

Photos by Bill Lambert

*For the record, Chicago Diner did used to have kind of a gnarly vegan bakery- it has since improved by leaps and bounds.