By now I’m sure most of you know that I won PETA’s Great Vegan Bake Off (!), given that I’ve posted it all over my social media pages cos I was pretty damn pleased with myself. But it occurred to me that I haven’t actually written anything about it here, so, voila!
As someone who’s always adored baking, when I spotted that PETA UK where hosting a vegan bake off competition I just had to enter. It was a brilliant opportunity to show the world that veganism is not synonymous with bland, boring, or even healthy food. A vegan diet doesn’t restrict you in any way – you can still indulge and enjoy treats, just as you would as a non-vegan, the only difference here is that no animals have to be harmed in the process.
Since going vegan, I’ve enjoyed leafing through recipe books and browsing online, searching for vegan versions of all my favourite recipes. Whilst there’s hundred’s of fantastic and delicious meal ideas out there, I found that when it came to sweet treats the recipes would often include obscure, hard to find ingredients or they’d be a healthy version of what I was looking for. Don’t get me wrong – healthy treats certainly hold a special place in my heart, but sometimes you just want a slab of sugar-laden cake.
And so, my aim when entering the competition was to create something decadent and delicious, that in both taste and appearance wouldn’t differ from its non-vegan counterpart. After toying with different ideas of classic flavour combinations I settled on tangy lemon paired with sweet, crunchy meringue, combined in a beautifully light sponge cake.
Getting my recipe submitted was no small feat, with various catastrophes along the way which resulted in splatters of frosting covering the entire house, losing photographs, re-editing an entire video, nearly hurling my laptop at the wall in a technology induced rage and a YouTube upload that took so long that I almost gave up hope. But finally, I got there. My lemon meringue show-stopping sponge cake was submitted, ready for judgement.
The recipe combines the classically egg and dairy laden treats of lemon sponge, lemon curd, buttercream and meringue – making simple, vegan versions of each. I thought my cake looked and sounded pretty damn tasty, and lo-and-behold, so did PETA UK, crowning me the winner of their 2016 Bake Off, which, with so many other delicious looking recipes, I’m pretty proud of.
“We were inundated with terrific cruelty-free dishes, and it was a real task to choose just one champion”, says PETA’s Elisa Allen. “Congratulations to Maisie! While all the entrants are winners in our book, Maisie’s decadent lemon meringue cake had us salivating. The addition of aquafaba (chickpea water) meringue is both unexpected and inspired, and her easy-to-follow recipe shows just how simple vegan baking can be.”
Baking is a wonderful activity, which can be relaxing and fun – what a joy it is to treat your friends and family (and yourself!) to a delicious homemade dessert -however, many people fail to acknowledge the acute cruelty involved in the dairy and egg industries. What I hoped to prove with this tasty recipe is that animal products are completely unnecessary when it’s so simple and easy to create cruelty free versions of your favourite foods. No one deserves to suffer for a slice of cake, and no one has to.