Try these Mocha Sponge Cupcakes, with a rich chocolate and coffee sponge, finished with a smooth and velvety coffee buttercream.
I’d argue that these have to be the best Mocha Sponge cupcakes around, plus this recipe can also very easily be veganised.
They’re insanely light and have the perfect amount of cocoa and coffee. Finished with an incredible coffee buttercream – which is honestly my favourite buttercream of all time.
I love coffee, I have to have one every morning – not even for the caffeine but purely down to to how much I love the flavour. Combine that with chocolate and you end up with a deep, rich, intense mocha – which is another one of my favourite drinks.
These Mocha Sponge Cupcakes literally encompass those exact flavours and are definitely one of my personal top bakes.
I developed my base Eggless Vanilla Sponge recipe over a period of time, making subtle changes in each batch until it was perfect. It was developed to be eggless and I wanted it to be easily veganised. This process probably took me the course of an entire year, largely because I didn’t bake often.
But it’s led to this stage where I was able to adapt it to make these amazing Mocha Sponge Cupcakes.
The science behind these eggless Mocha Sponge Cupcakes
One of the eyebrow-raising ingredients here are the ground flax seeds, or sometimes known as linseeds. I tend to buy the golden variety and I usually purchase mine pre-ground as it saves the hassle of grinding these.
It comes as a fine powder which forms this gelatinous egg-like substance when re-constituted with water. This process can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes, and I use the ratio of 1tbsp ground flax to 2tbsp cold water.
They help to bind baked goods by forming polysachharide chains which disperse during baking to form a network. These chains also trap moisture which helps to prevent dry baked goods, they even prevent gluten networks forming so you end up with more tender crumb structures.
BUT, they are not an exact replacement for eggs, and an egg based recipe that calls for 4 eggs will not work by simply substituting 4 flax eggs, and vice versa – it doesn’t work as they are not the same ingredient and behave completely differently.
Eggs on the other hand are protein based and the protein strands form a network when exposed to heat, allowing for a stronger binding element. They help to build structure which is something that flax eggs can’t do (as it is starch based).
Eggs can trap air between the protein network which is why they foam up and form airy meringues, which flax eggs again can’t do. For a vegan meringue, you would need to use an agent like aquafaba which does behave similarly to egg whites.
When it comes to replacing eggs in a recipe, in most cases you can’t simply rely on one sole egg-replacer but I’ve done all the thinking and testing for you here to make sure you guys end up with a perfect eggless mocha cupcakes.
But Rish, could I just substitute eggs into this recipe instead of using flax eggs?
The short answer is no, I don’t think so. I don’t bake with eggs so I can’t give you a direct yes or no answer but my hunch is no. If anyone does try, please let me know how it goes.
But if flax is not available or accessible, then leave it out. The recipe still works without flax, but there will be a couple of differences.
Firstly, you run the risk of a slightly drier result as the flax traps in moisture.
And secondly, the cake will be slightly crumbly as it’s lacking the additional binding. Just trust the process and you will have an incredible eggless mocha cupcakes.
Can I turn these Mocha Sponge Cupcakes into a layered cake?
Yes, absolutely. With this recipe you can make:
- 18 cupcakes – 17-20 mins bake time
- 2x 7″ layers – 40 mins bake time
- 1×8″ layer (thick layer) – 45-50mins bake time
- 1×10″ layer (thin) – 40mins bake time
Can I substitute plain flour instead of self raising flour?
You can, it won’t give the exact same result but it will be close. In all my testing, self raising flour always provided the lightest texture.
To substitute plain flour, you will want to use around 238g of plain flour and 7g of baking powder (just under 2 tsp), you will then still need to add the additional 1 tsp baking powder in the recipe.
In turn, making it a total of just less than 3 tsps of baking powder. To note, baking powder is different from baking soda, they are not interchangeable.
- 245 g self raising flour
- 40 g cocoa powder not hot chocolate powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 170 g white granulated sugar
- 150 ml flavourless oil e.g. sunflower
- 250 ml milk/plant milk of choice
- 2 tbsp instant coffee
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp GROUND flax
- 2 tbsp water
Coffee butter cream
- 100 g unsalted butter/vegan block alternative softened
- 100 g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp milk of choice
- 0.5 tbsp instant coffee
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- First heat your milk along with the instant coffee until just a simmer, whisk to dissolve all the coffee and then allow to cool to room temperature
- Preheat your oven to 160’C fan/180’C conventional
- Mix your ground flax with the water and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes to thicken
- Mix your oil, sugar and vanilla together, either with a hand whisk or a paddle attachment on a stand mixer
- In a separate bowl, mix your flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder
- Add your flax mix to your oil and sugar mix once flax has thickened and continue to whisk
- Add half your milk, and whisk
- Sieve in half your flour mix and fold the batter
- Add your remaining milk, followed by the remaining flour, and continue to fold until all incorporated
- Cupcakes will take 16-18 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean
- Pop your 1tbsp milk in the microwave for 10-12s, then dissolve your instant coffee into this. Refrigerate until cold
- Whisk your unsalted butter, vanilla, and icing sugar, add the icing sugar gradually
- Add in your coffee mix and continue to whisk
- Refrigerate your buttercream for 10-20mins
- Frost the cakes once completely cooled