Eating for a good cause

8/29/2005 07:39:00 AM

Last week on Wednesday, An and I were walking through Union house on our way to our fave coffee place, when I saw a table run by some liberal-arts-hippy-politically-minded-and-op-shop-clothed types, raising money for West Timor, covered in wholesome looking cakes. One cake in particular caught my eye, "Vegan Sponge Cake"... So I walked up to the table...

Me: Did you guys make these cakes?
Nice rosy cheeked girl: Yes we did!
Me: Who made the vegan sponge cake?
Same girl: Oh that was me.
Me: How do you make a vegan sponge cake?
Girl: Well you just use a lot of baking powder to make it rise, because you can't use eggs, and um... it's got flour, sugar, and oil in it. And I put a layer of jam in it to make it sweeter.
Me: Oh I see!
Girl: Are you interested in West Timor?
Me: ER no... looking around embarassedly... I work as a cook... and I just wanted to see these cakes - they all look really good.

Then the nice girl went into a spiel about the state of West Timor, the problems they're having over there, what we can do to help etc. I'm sorry to say I tuned out a bit, but if you're interested I suppose you could always use Google it.

Onto the cakes... An and I each spent $5, all in a good (I'm told) cause. I got a lemon and coconut muffin and a piece of sponge cake. An also got a spiece of sponge cake, and a slice of apple cake. Armed with our cake, we headed down to our coffee place...

Lemon and Coconut Muffin
Vegan Sponge Cake

The sponge cake. Well... it's not exactly a "sponge" cake, is it? It's really very flat, not airy at all, and had a gritty, rather than smooth texture. I mean, it had a pleasant enough taste, but having been expecting something sponge-like, I felt a bit cheated, for want of a better phrase. I have nothing against vegenism, or vegetarianism, (in fact, I adore vegetarian food - bring on the lentils!), but what I don't like is restricted food masquerading as ordinary food, and tasting weird. There are some vegan cakes that work, wonderfully, as they are (e.g. lemon and ginger muffins or the jaffa mocha cake at the Co-Op, 2nd floor union house), and some that just don't work without eggs, milk or butter (case in point being the sponge cake). It was also very, very sweet. An liked it, but after my first couple of mouthfuls I was buzzing on all the sugar.

Now onto the lemon muffin - this was fantastic!! I actually have no idea what's in this, apart from the slice of lemon on top (and I do believe Seville oranges would be lovely here too), and the desiccated coconut inside. Fragrant and delicious, with a good texture too.

Vegan Sponge in background, apple cake in front

The apple cake (in the front of the two photos above) was the most cakey-looking one of the lot. The texture was great (I can't remember if this one was actually vegan or not, the lovely texture makes it look suspiciously buttery), and the person who'd made this sprinkled a thick layer of raw sugar over the top - but it had a weird taste. Actually, come to think of it, they probably used some horrid vegetarian margarine product for the topping. That's where the weird taste came from!

Conclusion - the lemon and coconut muffins were fab, the others were a bit on the low side of ordinary. For me, a person with (thankfully) no dietary restrictions, I think it's a bit pointless to have inferior tasting substitutes for ordinary cakes, when I could eat the original version and enjoy it so much more. However, I'd never deride food simply because it is restricted in some way, and I'm up for trying anything, especially if it's a bit unusual. My motto is, "if it tastes good, bring it on". So more vegan muffins, please!!

You know, the only way anyone is ever going to get me to become politically involved at uni is to lure me with food... what clever hippies.

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My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.