I'm not sure how many banjo-playing, mostly vegan, gluten free folks who love root beer there are out there. But if you know someone who fits this description, then please make them this cake- Mike loved his!
Gluten-Free, Vegan Root Beer Cake
This recipe will make enough for 2 banjo cakes, which I recommend doing in case you mess one up (I did). Choose your favorite vanilla frosting for this.
1 bottle Virgil's root beer (or other all-natural variety)
1 cup millet flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of each ground spice: Nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. mint extract
1/2 cup nondairy milk
Homemade vanilla frosting
1 handful of chocolate chips
Pour root beer into a small saucepan and simmer until reduced to about 1 cup (about 10 minutes). Set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of 2 little 4" springform pans with parchment and grease the sides with a little oil. Do the same to a loaf pan.
Whisk together the millet flour, rice flour, starch, xanthan, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together the canola oil, sugar, vanilla, mint extract, milk and cooled root beer until the sugar is dissolved. Add liquid to the flour mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Spoon batter into the two round pans and loaf pan. Smooth the top with wet fingers to prevent the batter from sticking to you. Bake for about 20 -25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pans and carefully invert (for the loaf pan) or release the sides (springform). Allow to cool completely.
To form into a banjo cake, cut the loaf cake in half lengthwise to form two "necks". If you want to get detailed and carve a shapely peghead, go right ahead. I did and then found that my fluffy frosting covered it all up!
I made the Fluffy Vegan Buttercream from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, but used 1 cup of Earth Balance margarine instead of 1/2 c. margarine and 1/2 c. shortening. You do what you think is right. You'll need to reserve about 1/2 cup of the frosting for the chocolate details.
After frosting both the round cakes and the "necks" with buttercream, place the neck firmly against the round cake on a serving platter. Then just melt a handful of chocolate chips with a smidge of nondairy milk (like 1 Tbsp.) and whisk into about 1/2 cup of the leftover frosting. Spoon this into a plastic baggie and snip off a teensy tinesy bit off the tip so you can pipe on the strings, bridge, frets, and hardware.
Serve with rootbeer and old-time music!