10 Questions about Raw Cakes answered

In this Blog Post I will answer 10 general questions on raw cakes.

What does Raw Cake mean?

When we speak of a Raw Cake, in most cases we don’t speak of unfinished baked cake or the leftover pulp of tea or nuts. We speak of vegan cakes, that do not require baking or even heating to temperatures of above 46°C.

In most cases, raw cakes are vegan, dairy – free, glutenfree, lactose free, sometimes even keto, they minimize the use of processed and refined sugars and do not use eggs.


There are however also cakes, that are referred to as no-bake cakes. These cakes also do not require baking, however they may or may not contain dairy, eggs, sugars and gluten, and may utilize some form of heating in the process.


How are Raw Cakes different from “normal” Desserts? Do they taste the same?

Raw Cakes, unlike “normal” cakes, are not baked with heat. This means that the chemical, biological and physical processes of baking are most often not in place. When making raw desserts, ingredients are not altered through heat. The creation of Gas is not induced and Air bubbles are not captured within a solidifying batter in the same way. – like when we use baking powder or baking soda in traditional baking.

This means that raw cakes have an entirely different texture and mouthfeel to normal cakes. They will not be as spongy, dry, and they will not rise in the process.

In most existing recipes for raw desserts, textures of raw cakes may be denser. In modern recipes we use different means to lighten up our desserts - these techniques allow to circumvent the forces of gravity so to speak, and still create light and airy desserts.

Binders hare used in a different way than in baking. Since we do not use eggs, other means need to be found to hold doughs together.


Because raw cakes are for the most part not exposed to temperatures above 46°C, their flavors and colors can remain in tact.

This also means nutrients stay in tact. And it means that raw cakes will taste much fuller, and have a greater variety of flavors compared to normal cakes. The vibrant colors of raw cakes are what makes them beautiful to plate, pleasing to the eye, which both add extra dimensions to the dining experience!


Are Raw Desserts actually good for you?

I will be honest, raw cakes are for the most part just as high in sugars and fat as regular desserts. And just like regular desserts, they should be consumed in moderation, for celebrations, etc.


However, because raw desserts use whole-food grade sweeteners, avoid allergens, like gluten and dairy and other animal products and keep their nutrients intact as they are not exposed to heat, while balancing levels of sugar and fat with higher amounts of nutrients and minerals, and because we can use modern techniques to lighten up our recipes, raw cakes can be a better alternative to many traditional desserts.

In addition, if you are sensitive to gluten or dairy, these desserts may be a great way for you to enjoy desserts at all!


Personally, I love the creative and innovative potential that raw desserts bring, it feels better to me to eat something that I know has no ingredients of animal origin and cane sugar. I love seeing pure raw plant ingredients transformed into beautiful healthy desserts.  This makes enjoying these desserts even more joyful to me. 


How Long do Raw Cakes last?

If kept in a fridge, ideally air-tight, a raw cake should usually last up to 5 days. If frozen, raw desserts will keep up to 3 months (if you can keep yourself from eating them before).


What is the Difference between Raw Cakes and No – Bake Cakes?

When we speak of raw cakes, we usually speak of raw vegan cakes. For most people, who follow a raw vegan diet, any foods that are processed or heated above 46°C are off limits. However, not everyone is that strict and you most certainly do not have to follow a raw vegan diet in order to enjoy tasty raw vegan desserts.

For those who are strict, it depends on the ideology or the dietary theory someone is following, whether they include different foods or not. When it comes to Gourmet raw food, of which raw vegan cakes in most cases, are a part of, whole food grade foods usually are included. This means, agave syrup, maple syrup, plant-based sweeteners like inulins, coconut sugar as well as oils, extract and essences are accepted ingredients.

Where we come to a grey area, is when it comes to heating up ingredients and to which point. Raw chocolate (when we heat up to 46°C) and dehydration are also well accepted means of raw cuisine. Both apply heat to alter texture. Even-though we can speak more of warmth, rather than heat in these cases.

Agar – Agar powder, a seaweed powder, counts as the vegan gelatin and setting agent. However, in order for it to be activated it needs to boil. Hence it is not a raw ingredient.

The same is the case for many natural plant-based thickeners. For some like pectin heat needs to be applied to activate them, some others while being able to be used without heat their extraction may have involved heat or alcohol for example.  

In raw cakes, we use these ingredients to alter and lighten textures. This may be a no-go for people who follow a very strict raw food diet. However, we need to consider that we only use a tiny amount (depending on the ingredient, maybe 1.5%) when preparing our raw food cakes, without impacting the “raw” quality of the rest of the ingredients.

As always, it is a personal choice which ingredients we use. If this is not goof ro you, then there are fully raw vegan alternatives, like Irish moss or mucilages that can be used in alternative.

No bake cakes, as opposed to raw cakes, may also include cooked items, and even animal products.

In order to be fully correct and respect the exact criteria of raw food, I also speak of no-bake cakes when using Agar in my recipes.

 

What are Raw Desserts and Raw Cakes usually made from?

When baked cakes are usually made from flour, milk, eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, salt, nuts – raw desserts in generally and raw cakes specifically are made mostly from nuts and seeds to replace flour and dairy, oils, fruit, including avocado, sweeteners, thickeners and binders.

Like in traditional baking, in raw desserts making the ratios are the key to success. The correct ratio between fruits, nuts, oil, sweetener, and flavorings is the deciding factor whether your cake will set or not, how it will taste or whether it will be a disaster.


What Equipment do I need to make Raw Cakes?

The most important tool for making any type of raw food recipe, is a high – speed blender. It really doesn’t matter what you make, but I cannot recommend enough to invest in a good blender. Having a good blender that is able to fully break down your components and incorporate all ingredients thoroughly will make or break your recipe. You don't need to use a super expensive blender however, you can use any blender with more than 1000 or 1200 Watt of power. I personally use either Vitamix or Blendtec Brands at home or professionally and cheaper models for travelling. 

A fridge, sometimes a freezer is important when it comes to setting and storing your cake.

Cake Turners, Cake Spatulas, Piping Bags, Squeeze Bottles are helpful tools for decorating your cake.

For more advanced recipes, dehydrators and vacuum sealer, cream syphon or vacuum sealer can be introduced to create different textures.


Is Making Raw Desserts more Expensive than Making Regular Cake?

Raw Desserts generally contain more high-grade ingredients than regular cakes. Eggs, flour, sugar and dairy are not expensive, are they?

However, nuts, coconut oil and fruit are! As are plant-based sweeteners and superfoods.

Is it worth it? In my eyes – 100%. Compare the nutrient values of the ingredients.

Regular cakes are basically empty calories, while with raw cakes, you can enjoy vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients in abundance – and fully enjoy every bite, guilt free. That is worth the extra pay.

In addition, modern recipes that use natural thickeners and binders help us increase the water content and reduce the fat content, which also helps to reduce cost. 


Is it easy or difficult to make Raw Cakes?

That depends. It is easy to follow a recipe that someone has carefully laid out to you.

However when it comes to understanding how the recipe comes about, what to consider when making changes based on the ingredients that you have, already small changes can have great impact.

Like with traditional baking, also in raw dessert making, exact amounts are important. That is why we use scales when measuring our ingredients, only in the way we can know that we achieve standardized results.

If you want to learn how to create your own raw cake recipes, understanding how ingredients work together, how different components impact texture and flavor, and which techniques you can use to alter your textures, is necessary.


How can I learn to make Raw Vegan Cakes?

Learning by Doing. Learning from pre-made recipes that you find online, in books, from a friend is the first step. In this way you can learn what the ideal texture is supposed to look like.

You can also go to restaurants that offer raw desserts. Understand what texture they are offering. Check what you like and what you don’t like.

The next better step is to learn from a book that also explains the whys and hows. Or a course. Read instructions and blog posts. And try them.

For me, learning and understanding how traditional (animal-sourced) recipes work, the techniques that are applied to create textures and the textures and flavors we are culturally accustomed to, was really helpful when formulating and improving my own raw recipes. 

However the best step is always to learn from someone who has gone through the other steps themselves, who has developed recipes and has faced the challenges and found the solutions to share.


Being able to ask questions, and clarify problems directly with an instructor and / or other people who are making cakes, will save you so much time and bring you better results quickly!

If you want to learn more on how create your own raw dessert recipes, then I invite you to Iris' Science 3.0 - which is currently being edited and being made ready for you. 

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