It feels like there is an elephant in the room. Something that is there adding pressure to a situation and although I know the best way to get past it is to acknowledge it, the hesitation is still there. It’s been over a week since I have posted on this blog or Instagram; two things that have been a part of my daily life for over a year were completely left alone. I realized this week how much pressure I put on myself to not only constantly post and produce content, but be as productive as possible each day to the point where the magic was sort of lost. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely l.o.v.e. blogging, and it’s my creative outlet (read- I work in legal consulting), but something went awry.
Recently, I’ve come across article after article about how multi-tasking doesn’t work and actually makes you far less productive, even up to 40% less, than you would be if you only focused on one task at a time. It also increases the likelihood of mistakes and studies have shown that it increases the body’s production of stress hormones and adrenaline. Stress can lead to so many other ailments in life, not just loss of short-term memory and productivity, so I needed to take note. This might not be news to some of you and it wasn’t exactly news to me either, but it really hit home these past few weeks.
On any given day at work I will have somewhere between 7-12 windows open in my browser, my phone always within site, text messages and calls coming in, email notifications always on, and a reluctant urge to constantly check instagram, facebook, snapchat (find me at CaraCarin), Medium, and so on.
My brain was starting to feel so cluttered, my capacity to remember conversations was decreasing, and the worst part was the work I was producing was not up to a standard I am proud of. Every output of mine was impacted. So much of what I was doing was about quantity instead of quality and the results were there to prove it. I was starting to become this person who was like how much can I accomplish, how productive can I be, how much of a go-getter can I become? All the while, I was having lackluster results.
Over the last week, I’ve taken a step back to reflect on what was happening inside and all around me and I realized that I needed to “trim the fat” as they say. I spent the entire week at work focusing only on work. No instagram, no blog, barely any social media and aside from some minor saddness I felt because I lost followers, my anxiety decreased. This isn’t to say that I am no longer going to blog or post to instagram, all I am saying is that I am going to focus on quality, instead of quantity when it comes to both. It also means that I am going to start keeping my phone in my purse on silent for blocks of time during the day. And this is good news for you guys, too. It means there will be higher quality posts, pictures, recipes and more thoughtful narratives as well.
You might be asking yourself “how does any of this relate to vegan chocolate cake?” And maybe it doesn’t directly relate but while I was taking a step back from all this, I found myself thinking about the foods that I loved and the memories that they held for me. I found myself asking “why do I love to food blog, and why do I love food?” One reason was because certain foods held strong memories from my childhood and carried on traditions. The same reason we American’s eat turkey on Thanksgiving each year. These rituals hold a special place in our heart.
One that really has a strong meaning for me is chocolate cake.
Growing up birthdays always meant one thing: grandma was making one. Without fail, if I was in Chicago or she was in Arizona during the month of March she would make me a cake for my birthday (and for everyone else on their birthday, too). Nothing fancy and sometimes not even from scratch but there was something about having a cake that was made by grandma. Part of it was the joy she got from making the cake. There was always a big smile on her face as she would watch you take your first bite, waiting for you to tell her how good it was. It’s one of those memories that gets me every time I relive it, even if only in my mind.
Its been about 10 years since the last time my grandma made me a chocolate cake on my birthday and I was feeling nostalgic the other day driving down the PCH looking out at the ocean. I decided I wanted to make a vegan version in honor of my grandma and all her years of chocolate cake making.
Ill be the first to tell you that there is nothing healthy about this cake despite that fact that it is made with some ‘healthier’ ingredients then the standard chocolate cake. Sometimes you have to have chocolate cake in all its glory and not worry about the sugar and the carbs because life is short and should be sweet. Balance is key. I can guarantee that this cake will follow a salad just like a night of wine is followed by a morning of green juice. You have to balance the good with the bad, the old with the new, the designer with the vintage. Thats life… or at least mine. And this is just chocolate cake.
And this might take the cake for longest blog post ever. Pun intended.
This cake is made with all organic ingredients purchased online or from wholefoods. In the directions I included the steps I took to make the assembly easier. I found that freezeing the cakes prevented them from falling apart as you was work with them. I highly reccommend taking the time to freeze the cakes. Also I cut a small piece of cardboard a little smaller then cake to put underneath to make it easier to transfer to a serving tray and to help it from falling apart as I was assembling it. You can see the cardboard in the photo above, as well as the parchement paper that I put on the bottome to make removing the cakes from the pan a breeze.
Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker
Preheat over to 350F and prepare 2-8 inch round cake tins. I only have one cake tin so I had to repeat the baking twice, but if you have two then go you, you just saved some time!
After you spray the pan with coconut oil, cut a piece of parchment paper in a circle so it fits in the bottom of the pan perfectly and use your finger to adhere the paper to the pan using the oil as "glue"
This makes it much easier to remove the cakes.
(repeat this step another if you only have one pan)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond milk and vinegar and let it sit for a couple minutes to activate.
Add in the oil, coffee, vanilla, and applesauce and beat until well combined. Set aside.
In another mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. If you have a sifter then slowly sift the mixture. If not, use a wisk or a fork and mix until there are no clumps.
Slowly add the dry into the wet as you continuously stir the batter. Go slow if necessary to ensure an even mixture. The batter should be thick, creamy and pourable.
Taste and adjust the sweeteness if preferred.
Divide the batter in between two cake pans or if you only have on like me then add half the batter into the pan. I eye balled this but if you have a scale then weigh it out.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
Remove from oven and let cool. The cake should come out with ease because of the parchment paper trick. After it has cooled completely, level off the cake with a bread knife. To do this simply shave off the top part of the cake that has risen so it has a flat top. (save for ice cream sundaes or discard)
**Place in the freezer. Repeat step for remaining half of batter, let cool, level off and put in the freezer.
While the cakes are baking, start the frosting. Combine all ingredients except the almond milk in a mix or large bowl. Beat together until light and fluffy, adding the almond as needed to reach desired consistency.
Before frosting the cake I let the frosting sit in the fridge for about an hour so it was easier to work with. The coconut cream and butter solidify resulting in frosting that is not runny, rather thick and takes shape.
Once both the cakes have been in the freezer for an hour or two, and the frosting in the fridge remove and add half the frosting inbetween the two layers and spread evenly.
OPTIONAL: add crumbled up pieces of oreo cookies in the middle for extra fun!
Then place the second piece on top and frost with the remaining frosting. Decorate with more crumbled cookie pieces if desired. Another option would be toasted coconut.
**note: The freezeing aspect is to make the assembly easier but it is not necessary.