Low-Fat Cucumber Cake, Indian-Style

It’s sweltering here in the northeast, and in most of the country. But a steady crop of cucumbers from the vines I planted in my backyard garden this spring are helping us keep our cool.

I’ve been slicing them into pitchers of water, chopping them up into salads and raitas, and just eating them fresh off the vine, with a dash of salt rubbed into their centers.
If you’ve ever grown cucumbers, you know that they can produce too much of a good thing. This past weekend, as I wondered what else to do with all those cucumbers, I was visited by a blast from the past. Tausali, or cucumber cake.
In the India I grew up in, ovens were a rarity. Cakes were a rare treat you bought at the bakery. But what some adventurous cooks did have was an aluminum contraption that looked like a tube pan with a lid. In the bottom was a compartment that held sand. The “oven” was placed on a stove and the flame heated the sand which in turn baked the cake.

My mom had one of those contraptions, and she would sometimes bake Tausali in it.
Tausali is a rather spare yet sumptuous cake from India’s Konkan region– my dad’s native land. It contains the classic triumvirate of homemade Indian sweets: jaggery (an unrefined Indian sugar not unlike piloncillo), coconut, and cardamom. It also contains rava (sooji or cream of wheat), sometimes ghee, and — of course– cucumber. There are no leaveners here, like baking soda or baking powder. The ingredients are all mixed up and baked in that little stovetop oven. The resulting cake is dense but moist and incredibly flavorful.

My Lowfat Cucumber Cake is not Tausali– I adapted it to make it more cake-like than Tausali by using flour instead of rava, and I did add some baking soda and baking powder to help the cake rise. But I tried to stay true to the basic flavors by using jaggery as the sweetener, and by incorporating cardamom and coconut into the recipe.
To stay true to the fresh-from-the-tube-pan look of a Tausali, but to make it prettier, I baked my Cucumber Cake in a bundt pan.
The cake was delicious. The jaggery gave it a deep richness, and the cardamom was just perfect with the cucumber. If you can’t find jaggery feel free to substitute with brown sugar. The result won’t be exactly the same, but it will taste pretty darn good.

This is also a very healthy cake. There is very little fat in the recipe, and it incorporates brown rice flour and whole-wheat flour — and, of course, a veggie. Because jaggery is not refined, it is also a better-for-you sweetener.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, all!

Cucumber Cake, Indian-Style


Mix in a bowl:

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp powdered cardamom

Mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside.

In another bowl, mix:

2 cups very finely grated jaggery (don’t leave in any lumps here)

3 tbsp flaxmeal mixed with 9 tbsp water

3/4 cup applesauce

1/2 cup grated coconut

4 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil

1 large cucumber (2 1/2 cups), seeded and grated

Add the wet ingredient mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix until everything comes together. Pour the batter into a bundt pan and smooth the top.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Unmold 10 minutes after removing from the oven. Cool thoroughly on a rack, then slice and enjoy!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Chocolate Oreo Cake

Chocolate Oreo Cake
New Year’s resolutions about eating skinny are for the new year. For now I give you this scrumptious Chocolate Oreo Cake.Early on in a new vegan’s journey comes the delicious discovery that Oreo cookies– yes, those gorgeous little black-and-white nuggets of chocolaty goodness– are vegan. And life is never quite the same again.We all can agree that Oreos aren’t health food,  but it would have to be a true killjoy who does not enjoy eating one every now and then. And the holidays are a perfect excuse. My Chocolate Oreo Cake is two layers of moist, velvety, soft-as-a-cloud chocolate cake sandwiching a layer of white vanilla buttercream. On top goes an icing of chocolate buttercream and some Oreo cookies. Can you imagine more deliciousness in one place?

Chocolate Oreo Cake

I had been wanting to share a vegan chocolate cake recipe for a long time but the recipes I’ve tried before (with my favorite, for flavor, being the one from the Candle Cafe Cookbook) tend to be too delicate and the cake almost always ends up falling apart while unmolding. For this Oreo cake I modified my chocolate cupcake recipe and it was perfect. The cake was tender but not too fragile, and it tasted better than any chocolate cake I’ve ever had.

The chocolate buttercream is a must-try: besides tasting divine, it looks really pretty too. I used mini Oreos as a topping and I left them whole, but you could always just use the regular-sized ones, crumble them up, and scatter them on top of the cake. Or you could leave out the Oreos altogether.

Here’s the recipe.

Chocolate Oreo Cake


Chocolate Oreo Cake
Includes recipe for chocolate and vanilla buttercream frostings
Recipe type: Dessert
  • Ingredients for Cake:
  • 2 cups almond milk (can use soy)
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1½ cups turbinado sugar (can use regular sugar)
  • ⅔ cup canola or other flavorless vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Ingredients for Frosting:
  • 8 tbsp (1/2 cup) vegetable shortening
  • 8 tbsp (1/2 cup) vegan "butter" like Earth Balance
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Make the cake:
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand-held mixer, beat the sugar, vanilla extract and oil until fluffy, about two minutes.
  3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, coffee, cocoa powder and salt.
  4. Add the cocoa-flour mixture to the wet ingredients in three batches, alternating with the almond milk-vinegar mixture, beating 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl after each addition to ensure everything is mixed together. Don't overbeat.
  5. Line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper at the bottom, and oil and flour the bottom and sides. Divided the cake batter evenly between the two pans.
  6. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center of each cake comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cake pans on a rack for 15 minutes. Then run a knife along the edges of the cake pans and unmold the cakes by putting a plate over the mouth of the pan and flipping it. Peel off the parchment paper.
  8. Place the unmolded cakes on the rack to cool completely.
  9. Make the frosting:
  10. Have your butter and shortening at room temperature. Place them in a bowl and with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer with a whisk attached, beat until you have a fluffy mixture, about a minute.
  11. Add the confectioners' sugar in batches of ¼ cup at a time, beating about 20 seconds after each addition. As with the batter, scraped down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition to ensure everything is evenly mixed.
  12. Remove ⅓rd of the frosting to another bowl. Add the vanilla extract and mix well. Set aside. This is your vanilla buttercream frosting.
  13. Add the cocoa powder and instant coffee powder to the remaining buttercream and mix well. This is your chocolate buttercream frosting.
  14. Frost the cake:
  15. Place one cake on a cake stand or a plate and top with the vanilla buttercream. Using a table knife or a spatula, spread the frosting evenly on top of the cake.
  16. Place the second cake on top of the first one. Top with the chocolate buttercream and spread it evenly on top of the cake and on the sides.
  17. Decorate with mini Oreos, as I did, or crumble some Oreo cookies and scatter them on top of the cake.
  18. Enjoy, all!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake with a Lemon Glaze

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

A plump, golden Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake with a Lemon Glaze is what I have for you today.

After all these years of baking vegan cakes and cupcakes, I am still amazed at how easy it is to eliminate animal products like butter, cream and egg and still get a perfectly moist, airy and beautiful result. All of it minus that awful egg odor. If you don’t believe me, all you have to do is try this cake.

Lemon and poppy seed are a classic combination, and just one bite of this amazing cake will tell you why. I used Meyer lemons which have a distinctive flavor and are sweeter than your average lemon, but it’s perfectly fine to use regular lemons instead. You could even try substituting other fruit juices.Lemon Poppyseed Cake

This is a great base recipe to create cakes of all flavors. You could, for instance, substitute the lemon juice and zest with orange and get a great orange bundt cake. Or you might try another fruit juice. This cake is very much like a pound cake, with a buttery crumb and a melt-in-the-mouth texture. I also used unbleached cake flour to get a particularly light texture. Cake flour is very low in gluten, so you don’t have to worry about your cake getting tough, the way it could with higher gluten flours like all-purpose flour. If you can’t get cake flour, use all-purpose but replace two tablespoons in each cup with cornflour.

You could also use whole-wheat pastry flour to make this cake. It will be darker and the crumb will be thicker, but you’d still have a great cake (and one that’s slightly healthier too).

Gotta run now, but here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake With A Lemon Glaze
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 16
  • For Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake:
  • 2⅔ cup unbleached cake flour (If you don't have cake flour, all-purpose would be okay but replace 5 tbsp of the all-purpose flour with cornflour. You can also make this with whole-wheat pastry flour but the crumb will be thicker.)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1½ cups vegan cane sugar or turbinado sugar
  • 1¾ cup almond milk or soymilk mixed with 2 tsp vinegar. Set aside five minutes to curdle.
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup poppy seeds, lightly toasted in a skillet. Do this over medium heat and stir frequently. It should take no more than five minutes.
  • Zest of two lemons
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of vegan "butter" like Earth Balance, at room temperature
  • For Lemon Glaze:
  • For the lemon glaze
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¾ cup confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
  1. Make the cake:
  2. Cream together the sugar and "butter" in a stand mixer or hand mixer fitted with a wisk, until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of bowl a couple of times during the mixing.
  3. Mix the lemon juice, zest, vanilla extract and almond milk.
  4. Sift into a bowl the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder
  5. Add the flour to the butter and sugar mixture in three batches, alternating with the almond milk mixture. Mix for 20 seconds after each addition, then scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything's integrated.
  6. Add the poppy seeds and mix with a spatula to disperse them evenly through the batter.
  7. Oil and flour a bundt cake pan. Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out dry. Let the cake stand in the bundt pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold. This cake unmolds easily, but if you need help run a knife lightly and carefully around the edges.
  8. Make the glaze:
  9. With a wisk, mix the lemon juice and sugar.
  10. With a toothpick, make a few holes in the warm cake and then paint the glaze onto the cake using a pastry brush. You can even just pour it on. Add some lemon zest on top, if desired.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/16th Calories: 275 Fiber: 0.8 grams Protein: 2.5 grams


Lemon Poppyseed Cake


Lemon Poppyseed Cake

If you like citrusy cakes, have you tried my fail-safe Orange Cake?


Say No to Horse-Carriage Rides in New York City and Elsewhere

There have been a number of media articles in recent weeks about efforts by animal-rights activists to stop New York City’s abhorrent horse-drawn carriages, after the deaths of two horses who literally dropped dead while ferrying passengers around the city’s clogged streets.

If you’ve ever been to New York, you will not have missed these horse carriages (and hopefully you knew better than to ride in one). But if you haven’t you would find it hard to imagine the sight of these poor animals, blinkers on, forced to walk around pulling hundreds of pounds for at least nine hours each day, seven days a week, ferrying passengers through the din, pollution, and unbearable hustle of New York’s infamous traffic.

It is also hard to imagine that leaders of this, one of the world’s greatest cities, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, still believe that they need this archaic display of animal cruelty to draw in tourists. If anything, it makes me never want to visit again.

To my mind, horses symbolize freedom. To condemn these beautiful creatures to a life of slavery and suffering is not just wrong, it should be a crime. Unfortunately, New York City is not alone. I wrote a few years back about Charleston’s horrendous horse carriages which really ruined my visit to this otherwise beautiful town in South Carolina.

The horses pay a heavy price for our “entertainment.” Many suffer respiratory ailments, not surprising given that they are inhaling noxious exhaust fumes all day, and some turn lame because of walking constantly on the hard pavement. At the end of a long, hard day the horses are returned to crowded stables where they are packed in, with no recourse to roam free for even a short time. They have no pastures where they can graze, or socialize with other animals. The next morning it’s back to the streets and hard labor and on and on until they die an early death or are put down.

Animal rights activists in New York City, including the ASPCA, have been fighting to have the horse carriages banned and they have been making steady progress, but I wanted to share this with you too in the hope that you will contribute your own power as consumers. All you have to do is say no to horse rides that are common “tourist attractions” in cities around the world.

There’s so much to see and do in New York City or in Charleston or in just about any place on earth. There is absolutely no need to sully your visit or vacation with a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, pulled by a sentient animal who will never know what it’s like to be happy.

Picture from ASPCA
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.


Banana Cake With Peanut Butter Frosting: Love Me Tender

Vegan Banana Cake

You don’t have to be Elvis Presley to eat like the King.

The rock ‘n’ roll legend’s love for food was well-known, and the infamous peanut butter and banana sandwich he adored, dubbed the “Elvis,” is the stuff of  food excess lore. Here’s how it was rumored to be made:  two slices of white bread were slathered with peanut butter, layered with bananas (mashed or sliced, per different accounts), sometimes drizzled with honey, and then the whole sandwich would be pan-fried in  butter. More horrifying versions (if that’s possible) say the sandwich contained bacon, one of the most unhealthy foods you can possibly eat because it literally drips with cholesterol and sodium.

Whew! Leaves you all shook up just to read that, doesn’t it? No wonder a medical examiner is famously quoted as saying that the King died of a “terminal event on the commode.”

Vegan Banana Cake

But take heart. My Elvis cake– a wholesome but melt-in-the-mouth tender banana cake with a peanut-butter frosting– is nowhere near as fattening or scary. In fact, it’s a pretty low-on-guilt cake, especially if you make it with whole-wheat pastry flour.

I recycled my Banana Cake recipe for the base, and it was perfect. This cake, eggless and vegan of course, has a very moist, airy crumb and every bite bursts with startling banana flavor. I made just enough peanut butter frosting to get a nice, satisfying layer between the two tiers and on top, but if you are the sort who likes gobs and gobs of frosting on their cake, double the recipe. Do keep in mind that peanut butter– although healthy– is high in fat.

I fought off one of my own food quirks when I made this cake, or rather the frosting. I absolutely love peanut butter and can eat it out of the jar by the spoonful (I do.). But I hate it vigorously and vehemently when it’s combined with anything sweet. I cannot stand peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, I don’t dare go near a peanut butter cup, and if you’re my friend you would know better than to buy me peanut-butter candy

I know I am in a minority (perhaps of one) because everyone else I’ve ever met just loves peanut-butter-based sweets. So I’m really excited to share this recipe with you because it really, really worked. Maybe it was because the flavors of the peanut butter and bananas marry so well together. Elvis, you old hound dog, you sure knew what you were doing.

As for me, I’m a new woman. Now bring on those peanut butter cups…maybe!

Banana Cake

Banana Cake With Peanut Butter Frosting

Banana Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Banana Cake inspired by the King
Recipe type: Cake/Dessert
Cuisine: Vegan Desserts
  • (Recipe makes two tiers)
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (all-purpose flour is a good substitute-- it makes for an even more tender cake)
  • ½ cup canola or other vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 medium, very ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup soy or any non-dairy milk, like almond, cashew, hemp, or pumpkin-seed milk + ½ tsp balsamic vinegar (set aside five minutes to curdle)
  1. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  2. Beat together the oil and sugar with a handheld mixer for about two minutes.
  3. Add the soymilk mixture and beat until just mixed.
  4. Add the mashed bananas and beat in. Make sure there are no big lumps remaining.
  5. Add the flour to the banana-soymilk-oil mixture in 2 batches, beating in after each addition until the mixture is smooth. Do not overbeat, though.
  6. Line the bottom of two 9-inch cake pans with parchment or wax paper. Oil and flour the pans.
  7. Divide the batter equally between the two pans and bake 25-30 minutes in a 350-degree oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean.
  8. Place on a rack to cool, about 10 minutes. Unmold, peel off the parchment paper, and leave on the rack to cool thoroughly before frosting.
  10. Place one cake on a cake stand or flat dish. Put about ⅓rd of the frosting (recipe follows) in the center of the cake and using a spatula spread it evenly across the surface.
  11. Carefully place the second cake on top of the first one. Put the remaining icing in the center of the cake and evenly frost the top and sides.
  12. Garnish with some chopped, roasted peanuts. In fact, if you have the time and the peanuts, sprinkle nuts all over the surface of the cake and press some into the sides.
  13. Cut yourself a hunka cake love, and enjoy!


Peanut Butter Frosting

Vegan Peanut Butter Frosting
Prep time
Total time
Peanut Butter Frosting
Recipe type: Cake frosting
  • ½ cup smooth and creamy peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup vegan cream cheese
  • 1½ tbsp vegan "butter", like Earth Balance
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
  1. Have the peanut butter and Earth Balance at room temperature, and the cream cheese cold. Place the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a wisk or with a handheld or stand mixer until everything's combined.
  2. Add the sugar ½ cup at a time, beating in well after each addition. I use less sugar than most peanut butter frosting recipes would, but if you want a stiffer frosting add more confectioners sugar.
  3. Place the frosting in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before frosting.


Some of you have asked me how my other animals, especially Pie, have been reacting to Pubm’s death. The answer is, not significantly. Over the past six months, we have come down from a family of three dogs and two cats to one with two dogs and one cat. Freddie’s passing did not seem to make a huge impact on Lucy and Opie, largely perhaps because he stopped interacting with the other dogs during his long illness and — being the smallest and oldest guy in the house– had hardly ever interacted with them much before, when he was in good health. Pubm and Pie came to our home together at the age of six, and the shelter told us they had lived together in a home all their lives and were sisters. But they weren’t terribly close in the eight years we’ve had them, and the only times they did interact, really, was to quarrel.

While it might work differently for dogs and cats who are really close, like Lucy and Opie are, I like to think that animals have better instincts than we humans do when it comes to death. They are not aware of their own mortality, they do not worry about those closest to them dying, and when someone does pass on they take it in their stride without obsessing over it, like we humans do. They don’t think of going to a better place, or being condemned to a bad one. Rather, they just live in the moment– something we all could learn to do.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.


Healthy Banana-Walnut Bundt Cake

Banana Walnut Bundt Cake

Yes. I just used the word “healthy” to describe cake, and if you don’t believe me, read on.

This cake is whole wheat– it’s made with whole-wheat pastry flour and wheat germ, both of which are great for you. Even better, there is no added fat in here. The moisture comes from those amazing bananas which are one of the healthiest fruits you can possibly eat, and from some almond milk.

The bananas also contribute a lot of the sweetness, and I used some maple syrup because I love it and because it adds even more flavor to an already delicious cake.

If you have a huge sweet tooth, and you’ve tried my other banana cakes before, like my Banana Nut Bread and my Banana Cornbread and my Banana Cake, be warned that this cake is not as sweet as those are. But it is definitely healthier, and perfect for anyone looking for some sinful indulgence without feeling guilty as sin afterward.

Gotta run now, but here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Banana Walnut Bundt Cake

Healthy Banana-Walnut Bundt Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A healthy Banana-Walnut Bundt Cake with no added fats
Recipe type: Cake
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 6 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¾ cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted lightly, then chopped
  1. Mix the flour, wheat germ, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
  2. In another, larger bowl, whisk together the sugar, maple syrup, almond milk, mashed bananas and vanilla extract until well-mixed.
  3. Add the flour in three batches, stirring in the flour thoroughly after each addition.
  4. Pour into a bundt pan sprayed with oil (I just bought a
  5. silicone bundt pan
  6. which requires little to no oil, and the cake pops out beautifully without sticking). This is a thick batter, so smooth down the top before putting into the oven.
  7. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the cake's center comes out clean.
  8. Cool thoroughly, unmold, dust with some confectioner's sugar if you like, then slice. Serve with some vegan whipped cream for some extra oomph, or just plain-- it's delicious either way.

Healthy Banana Walnut Bundt Cake