I absolutely love year-end round-up posts! They help me to say thanks for all the great stuff that happened to me in each year, and clear out my head to look forward to what’s next. I’ve already done one for the books I read in 2015, and last year I listed my top 10 vegan restaurants and my top 10 indie bookstores of 2014. This year I wanted to cut through to the really important stuff of my life: the best cakes I ate in 2015. Here you go.
Vegan chocolate loaf at The Secret Herb Garden, Midlothian
TSHG is one of my absolute favourite places. My dream day is basically this: get the bus out there, wander down the road from the bus stop to the garden entrance, foraging elderberries as I go (no really, I am this whimsical). Mooch around the huge greenhouses, go and see the pigs, dogs and chickens, and visit the bee observatory. Then order a shabby enamel mug of their Duchess Grey tea, with a slice of this chocolate loaf on the side. Find one of the squishy sofas hidden among the plants in the greenhouse, and settle in with a book. Only leave when it’s kicking-out time, or when I have to run for the bus.
Vegan pecan pie, Peter’s Yard, Stockbridge, Edinburgh
I used to avoid Peter’s Yard because I’d had bad experiences in the one on Middle Meadow Walk, which is always rammed with students. Then this year, my very wise friend Lucy came to visit, happened to mention the PY pecan pie, and asked what I thought of it. I demanded to go and hunt down a slice immediately, and we ended up having a very civilised time at the Stockbridge branch. It’s a bit pricey, but highly recommended.
Rhubarb and almond loaf, Earthy, Canonmills, Edinburgh
Earthy have got so much better in the past year for providing vegan options — I salute them! These days you may find two or three tasty desserts to choose from. They rotate their vegan cakes, so this rhubarb one is not always on offer. Though this one is my favourite, I also recommend the chocolate/coffee/coconut cake they do.
Chocolate almond cake, Henderson’s, Edinburgh
I scoffed this cake at Henderson’s at St John’s, which has now — very sadly — shut down. But I am pretty sure it’ll make an appearance again in at least one of the other Henderson’s outlets around town. It was a really light cake, especially for a vegan offering, and it tasted just like Maltesers! If they don’t happen to have this one on the day you visit, check out the vegan cherry pie, which is more routinely on offer.
Citrus drizzle cake, El Piano, York
I’ve waxed lyrical about El Piano before, but last time, I mentioned that the desserts were the one thing that could maybe improve. However, I visited again this year and was pleasantly surprised by this citrus-y fruit cake, which comes with a D-I-Y drizzle on the side. You should absolutely head to this place anyway… but now you can also enjoy dessert! Gold star for improvement, EP!
Vegan fruit and chocolate sorbets, The Chocolate Tree, Bruntsfield, Edinburgh
Again, you may already know about my love affair with The Chocolate Tree — they love vegans almost as much as they love chocolate, and there are always vegan cake and drink options available. But in the summer a massive slab of chocolate cake is just not an option. Eat sorbet instead. It’s cold, for a start, and you can pretend it’s virtuous and healthy as well…
Peanut butter cookies, Sugar Daddy’s, Canonmills, Edinburgh
This place is brand new and ten minutes’ walk from my house, so it’s official: I will never be thin. SD’s offer gluten free and vegan treats, as well as options to accommodate other dietary requirements, e.g. nut free and lactose free. As well as choosing from a cabinet full of takeaway delights, you can also order large cakes for special occasions… they even do a line in intricately-iced all-vegan, all-GF Christmas cakes. Oh, and their logo is the coolest.
Vegan fruit scones, Goji, York
Do you know how hard it is to find a good vegan scone? It’s hard. I had to go all the way to York. And that’s silly, because it’s really easy to veganise scones. Anyhoo, Goji — which is so good that it featured twice on my top ten last year — do a mean scone, alongside lots of other delicious things (vegan Sunday roast OMG)… and their staff are absolutely lovely. Worth going all the way to York for.
Pumpkin pie, Henderson’s Vegan, Edinburgh
Yes, Henderson’s again. They opened Edinburgh’s first ever all-vegan, all-the-time eatery, so they deserve special praise. And everything they cook is brilliant… it’s not just the desserts. Great service happens here, too. But book, because everyone wants to eat there and the place is super small!
Vegan peanut butter blondies, Lovely Boyfriend via The PPK
Yep, you can’t buy these blondies… you have to bake them yourself. Or better still, do what I did and have a cute Scotsman bake them for you. We were inspired to try making these by Sugar Daddy’s vegan PB blondies, and now we’ve tasted the home-cooked version we’re pretty sure SD’s use the same recipe. You’ll be pleased to hear that Saint Isa of The PPK makes all her recipes absolutely idiot-proof — if I can make every single one without any disasters, then anyone can! So have a bash. Next time you have vegan friends round, you’ll knock their socks off.
Know of any other good vegan cake places? Please do tell me where I can go for my next cruelty-free sugar fix!
I wrote a book of poems! It’s called This changes things, and you can order it here!
You can now get more content from me — and help me pay the bills! — by supporting my Patreon. Get a monthly writing support pack for just $5 a month! It’s like buying me a pint.
You can also support me by checking out the many sweet and sparkly things at Edinburgh Vintage, my Etsy-based store for jewellery and small antiques.
If you just want to say hi, you can find me on Twitter, or email me via claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. You’ll get a fairly good sense of the kind of person I am by checking out my Tumblr.