Monday, January 5, 2015

Vibrant Purple Taro Layer Cake

Few vegetables have pigment as vibrant-purple as taro which makes it excellent for adding a burst of violet to your desserts without using chemical dyes. 
Taro is a root vegetable native to Southeast Asia and India which produces a giant potato-like tuber which when cooked, can range in colours from white, to lavender to electrifying violet. There are several varieties of taro and are known locally by different names such as coco or inhame in Portuguese and Caribbean countries, yutou in Mandarin, arrow root in East Africa, taro or eddo in India and Thailand and the list goes on and on.  Each variety has a slightly different shape and flavour and most varieties are interchangeable in recipes. 

The flavour of taro is subtle.  I often describe it as tasting like a coconut that has been cooked in flowers.  Rich creamy textures with a soft, fragrant aroma.  Because of this, taro works exceptionally well in desserts such as cakes, ice creams, puddings, pies, and is a popular bubble tea choice. 

You can find taro roots in most east Asian grocery stores, and they are becoming available in larger grocery stores as well. 

Taro Butter Cream 
  • 2 cups taro cubed
  • 4 cups water 
  • 1 cup vegan superfine sugar
  • 1 cup coconut milk 
  • 1 cup vegan margarine or coconut oil (Note: some margarines contain dairy such as lactic acid! Always read the ingredients before purchasing.) 


  1. Boil taro in water for 10-15 minutes or until soft.  
  2. Remove from heat, drain and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. In a large bowl mash the taro into a fine paste with a potato ricer or a spoon / hands if you don't have one. 
  4. In a food processor, add the coconut milk, sugar and margarine and blend until a uniform 'icing' consistency has been achieved.  
  5. Keep the mixture chilled until use. 

Vegan Vanilla Sponge Cake 

Ingredients for a single layer:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup corn starch 
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water 
  • 4 tablespoons apple sauce 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
  2. Grease a 8 inch spring from pan and lightly dust with flour. 
  3. In a large bowl add the dry ingredients and stir.
  4. Combine the wet ingredients and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, or mix by hand until there are no lumps. 
  5. Transfer the mixture to the greased pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until centre is cooked. 
  6. Once cooked, allow to cool for at least an hour before icing.  

  1. Flatten each layer of cake by cutting off the domed crust so that the tops are level. 
  2. Apply a generous amount of taro cream onto the first layer, making sure it is even. 
  3. Add the second cake on top.  The buttercream will act as glue and bind them together.  Repeat for the third layer and so on. 
  4. Once staked, cover the cake with the remainder of the butter cream and decorate as you wish.  You may also pipe the buttercream onto the cake and create your own designs.  

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