Monday, September 22, 2014

Liquorice cake

I am quite excited to share this recipe, and for that matter, to start this final, dessert-focused week of Vegan MoFo.

There is some symmetry in starting this week with liquorice cake. After all, it was liquorice cake that kick started my 2012 Vegan MoFo posts. Back then, the liquorice cake was provided by York's Goji Cafe. Today, I am sharing a homemade version.

Vegan liquorice cake

There is another twist to this post. It is, truth be told, two years late. After starting my 2012 MoFo posts with a review of liquorice cake, I wanted to finish the series with a homemade version that you could all enjoy. I researched possible recipes, bought Dutch liquorice to give a full-bodied liquorice flavour, and attempted what I thought could be a great cake.

What went wrong? In a nutshell, salted liquorice. Yes. Truly. By mistake, I bought Dutch salted liquorice and put it in my 2012 cake without realising my error. Unusually, I also made that cake without tasting the uncooked batter. It was only when the mix was in the oven and I tried a leftover (salted) liquorice piece that I realised the problem. Suffice to say, the cake was not good. In fact, it was quite bad.

It has taken me two years to recover from that failure, but I'm glad I made a second attempt. This cake - largely salt free! - was wonderful. I made it when my mother was here, and it was well received by her and Mr Bite. In fact, it was even endorsed as on par with the Goji Cafe version. I would still rate that one a little higher, but am happy to take this as an at home substitute.

The liquorice lends flavour and sweetness to this cake. However, it is not super sweet. We enjoyed some with vegan vanilla ice cream, and I can recommend that serving approach. The cake is also enjoyable plain and it is beautifully moist. I enjoyed it most the day after baking, but it lasted for four days without losing its quality. Possibly it would have lasted longer, had it not all been eaten!

After my initial salted liquorice disaster, I reverted to standard soft (not Dutch) liquorice for this recipe. It was a good choice. I cooked the liquorice pieces with water, non-dairy spread and golden syrup, before blending to give a semi-smooth liquorice mixture. Soft liquorice helped with the blending.

I should acknowledge my poor icing efforts for this cake. We are still (inexplicably) waiting on our shipment from Australia to arrive. My kitchen utensils remain somewhat limited, and don't yet extend to electric beaters. The icing was a childlike mix of icing sugar and non-dairy milk, stirred by hand. However, it tasted good and was mostly disguised by strawberries and liquorice pieces.

Liquorice cake
A delightful vegan cake, to serve 6 to 8

Author: Bite-Sized Thoughts, with inspiration from liquorice cupcake recipes at Kayotic Kitchen and Apple and Spice

For the cake -
150g soft liquorice, chopped into 1 to 2 inch pieces
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup non-dairy spread
1/2 cup golden syrup (treacle would be lovely too)
1 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 1/4 cup water for at least 15 minutes
1/2 cup non-dairy milk of choice
1-1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the icing -
1 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla

Liquorice, extra, to decorate

For the cake -
Preheat your oven to 180'C (355'F) and prepare a large round cake tin.

Set your chia seeds to soak in water if needed.

In a large saucepan, heat the liquorice pieces and 1/4 cup water to boiling point, and then reduce heat to low. Stir regularly until the water is liquorice-coloured and the mixture is fragrant. Add in the non-dairy spread and golden syrup and leave over low heat until the spread is melted. There will still be chunks of liquorice visible.

Allow the liquorice mix to cool slightly and then transfer to a blender or small food processor. Add the chia seeds in water. Process until semi-smooth. The mixture should resemble a thick date paste in colour and texture.

Transfer the pureed liquorice to a mixing bowl and stir in the non-dairy milk. Then, add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat to incorporate (I didn't have electric beaters when making this so beat the mix by hand, which worked fine).

Bake for 35 minutes until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

For the icing -
Whisk the icing sugar, milk and vanilla together until smooth. Spread over the cake and decorate with chopped liquorice pieces, or as desired.

Are you a fan of liquorice? Have you had it in baked goods before?

This post is part of my participation in the 2014 Vegan Month of Food. This week I am focusing on dessert options.

Previous 2014 Vegan MoFo posts:
Breakfasts-                                                                      Snacks-
#1 - Vegan French toast                                                                                
#6 - Chocolate coated banana chips
#2 - Apple and strawberry muesli                                                             
#7 - Barbecue inspired nori snacks
#3 - Mango coconut buckwheat breakfast pudding                              
#8 - Carob latte
#4 - Tips for a vegan breakfast on the go                                                
#9 - Tide Tables Café
#5 - Chickpea pancakes with spicy kale and mango                             #10 - Dark chocolate and espresso almonds

Main meal options-
#11 - Moroccan tagine


  1. wow kari that looks amazing - I remember the liquorice cake you previously posted and my admiration and this sounds fantastic - love the combination of liquorice and golden syrup. I've never had salted liquorice - sounds an odd idea to me - what a shame about the dodgy cake - glad you got your liquorice baking mojo back - I must try this.

    1. I think you'd like it Johanna - I hope you find time to give it a go (post vegan mofo!). After my salted liquorice horror I also can't understand it at all. It wasn't enjoyable plain or in cake form!

  2. Yayyyy liquorice! I'll have to eat it all myself since no-one I know likes it, but I can't wait to bake this up :D

    1. Sometimes those are the best kind of cakes to make ;) No need to share!

  3. This looks amazing, and really moist too. Yum!

  4. I love liquorice but don't think I've ever had it in something baked before.
    As for child like icing...well it's the only kind I do Kari :-)

  5. I didn't even realize that licorice came salted! This sounds really interesting - I love licorice but have never thought to bake with it before. Yum!

    1. It never occurred to me either, until I had the cafe provided cake. But it is really good!

  6. I actually like salt licorice but I can understand not liking it in a cake. What a disaster! I have a friend who once tried to make meringues with salt instead of castor sugar. I love the look of your cake and I think a licorice cake would be very yummy - I'm a big fan of licorice. I think, giving your lack of equipment, that you gave the cake great presentation xx

    1. Meringues with salt would definitely have some challenging aspects!! What a shame, especially if she'd beaten the egg whites as that requires so much effort. Thanks for your kind presentation words too ;)

  7. This is such a cool idea- love it!

  8. What a great cake! I adore licorice and I am sure I'd love this.

  9. Not a licorice fan at all but love the idea of putting it into a cake!
    Hope your shipment arrives soon, must be hard thinking of all the things yet to arrive and not having them yet!

    1. Thanks Sandy, luckily it arrived safely and we're having fun reuniting with our belongings!

  10. Thank you so much for the link to your recipe Kari. I recall another food blogger mentioning liquorice cake from York's Goji Cafe and it was then debated whether it was made with a licorice teabag. Your efforts are very impressive. I have had salted licorice in the past and liked it actually.


I genuinely appreciate all comments and the time taken to post them. Occasionally, I may need to restrict commenting to registered users in order to halt large volumes of spam. If that happens, I will lift the restriction within a week.

Want other ways to interact? Bite-sized thoughts is on Facebook ( and Twitter (