Non-dairy cake recipe for bar mitzvah
A friend has asked me to bake (I'm a professional cook and experienced baker) a cake for her twins' bar mitzvah, no dairy. She mentioned that she is quite fond of the chestnut cake in The Silver Palate Cookbook, a yellow cake made with oil and white wine, and layered with chestnut puree(plus a ganache, but I'd have to something else). Anybody tried it? Made it in sheet pans? Other recipes? I'd prefer not to do a carrot or applesauce or other fruit/oil cake. If chocolate is the order of the day, there's always the back-of-the-box Hershey's chocolate cake, but other recipes would be appreciated. Thanks.
Levana Kirschenbaum (of Levana's restaurant) has a cookbook, Levana's Table. There are some amazing parve dessert and cake recipes there, including things that should by all rights be dairy, but she makes them parve. Maybe you can find ideas there. I am by no means a professional chef, but have substitutes soy milk for dairy milk in recipes with pretty good results.
My favorite non-dairy chocolate cake is Marcy Goldman's "Chanukah Gelt Double Fudge Chocolate Layer Cake None Better" from her book A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. This cake is so great that even people who aren't kosher and don't mind dairy often recommend it. It's really moist and memorable. The entire cookbook is filled with great recipes, both dairy and non-dairy.