Friday, September 29, 2023


This is the chocolate cake of my childhood. Robust walnut layers, flavoured with coffee and vanilla, and a smooth chocolate buttercream. What more can one want from a cake?
I love these traditional cakes, as they are the most reliable ones for transport and gifting. They are the most nostalgic ones to me, as well, especially with a simple decoration, and served in generous slices. This is one of my tried and true recipes, and I can proudly say that it is the first one that disappears from the serving platters.
The buttercream is wonderful, incredibly rich and deeply chocolaty; however, depending on the type of cocoa powder and chocolate you use, it may get too firm after refrigeration. That can easily be solved by adding a splash of vegan double cream or even a generous spoonful of apricot or smooth plum jam.
And speaking of the richness, I used an 80% cocoa bar with no sugar added, so if you do the same, taste the buttercream and adjust the level of sweetness to your liking. This applies even more if the cake is for the little ones, as they do not really enjoy those deeply chocolate, almost bitter notes.

For the walnut cake layers
220 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
90 grams ground walnuts, toasted
120 grams granulated sugar
small pinch of salt
400 grams hot water
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
120 grams jam
1 heaping teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the chocolate fudge filling
250 grams vegan block butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
150 grams icing sugar, sifted
20 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
150 grams dark chocolate (80% cocoa)

To make the walnut cake layers, sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a large bowl. Add in the ground walnuts, salt, and sugar, whisk well, and set it aside. Add the jam into a large bowl, add in the water, coffee, and vanilla, and whisk until the jam completely dissolves. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and whisk until only combined.
Prepare four small round baking tins (15 cm) by lining them with baking parchment, bottom and sides. Divide the batter into four equal parts by weight, pour each of them into a baking tin, tap it lightly on the counter, and level it as much as possible. Bake them in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the very centre comes out clean. The cakes will be very soft, so let them cool in the baking tins completely.
While the cakes are almost completely cool, make the buttercream filling. Melt the chocolate over low heat or in a double boiler, and set it aside to cool down to room temperature, making sure it is still pourable. Place the softened vegan block butter into a large bowl, add in the vanilla, and mix with an electric mixer on high for about 2-3 minutes, or until lighter in colour and creamy. Sift in the icing sugar and the unsweetened cocoa powder, and blend it very well.

Finally, when the buttercream is almost ready, add in the melted and cooled chocolate while the mixer is running, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Once the batter is blended well, the buttercream may look a touch soft, but that is fine. Place the bowl into the refrigerator for the buttercream to chill while the cakes are cooling.
Once everything is ready, proceed to assemble the cake. Level the cake layers if needed and whip the buttercream once more until light and creamy. If it seems too thick to spread, which can happen depending on the cocoa powder and chocolate used, add in a bit of vegan double cream and blend well. Set aside about a third of the filling to use for the decoration, and divide the rest into three equal parts.
Place the first cake layer on the serving platter, add a layer of acetate around it, and close a cake ring tightly. Spread a portion of the filling on top; add another cake layer, another portion of the buttercream, and continue stacking until all the cake layers are used up. Place a piece of baking parchment or some cling film on the very top of the cake and place it into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, along with the reserved buttercream in a sealed container.
When the cake is ready, remove it from the refrigerator, remove the cake ring and the acetate, and whip the buttercream once more, to make it spreadable. Decorate the cake to your liking and serve. Yields 16 rich servings.

Friday, September 22, 2023


There truly is nothing like homemade bread. I love the whole process, from the mixing, to the kneading, to the shaping, to finally taking out a golden loaf out of the oven.
It is one of the most comforting foods for me, especially just baked. Those moments of carefully trying to remove the piping hot crunchy bread crust, only to be greeted by an even hotter fluffy crumb, simply waiting for a spoonful of jam or a savoury spread, those moments are the very epitome of comfort to me.
I also love the adaptability of any bread recipe, the endless possibilities of enriching and shaping the dough. From a humble soft loaf to an intricately braided one, simply in a matter of minutes.
This little loaf is truly a breakfast perfection; soft, fragrant, and ever so slightly sweet. Simply divine even for brunch or a snack, especially with a nice fruit preserve or jam, and a sliver or vegan butter.
Keep in mind that you can vary the flavour to your liking, and I encourage you to do so. If you prefer, you can use regular teabags of hibiscus tea instead of dried calyces; simply use three or four bags, to get the maximum flavour. Or you can use two tablespoons of hibiscus calyces, for an even more prominent flavour.

350 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
50 grams granulated sugar
1 generous tablespoon dried hibiscus calyces
200 millilitres water
30 millilitres vegetable oil
25 grams fresh yeast
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
½ teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
few drops of vegan pink food colouring, optional

Start by making the hibiscus tea. Place the calyces into a medium bowl, and bring the water and sugar to a rolling boil over high heat. Remove it from the stove, and pour over the hibiscus. Cover the top and let it steep for about 10 minutes, until the flavour develops and the water cools down. Once ready, strain the tea well, pour it into a large bowl, add in the oil, and crumble in the fresh yeast. Mix well so the yeast dissolves, and then let it stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes. When the yeast is ready, add in the vanilla and the orange zest, and mix well.
Sift in half of the flour and the salt, and mix well with a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula. Sift in the rest of the flour, and proceed to knead with your hands, either in the bowl or a floured work surface, for 3-5 minutes more, until the dough is smooth and elastic. If desired, add a drop of two of vegan pink food colouring, and knead it through. Place the dough into a large bowl, cover it, and let it rest and rise for about an hour.
Once the dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, divide it into 12 pieces by weight, and form each one into a little sphere. Line a small loaf tin (9x18 cm) with baking parchment, and place the dough pieces in two rows. Cover the top with a clean kitchen towel, and let the dough rise for another 30 minutes. Once risen, generously mist the dough with cold water, and bake it in a preheated oven, at 200˚C, for about 25-30 minutes, until baked through and nicely browned. Let it cool down slightly and serve. Yields one small loaf.

Friday, September 15, 2023


When I was a child, one of my favourite snacks was a grated apple, sprinkled with vanilla sugar, ground cinnamon, and plenty of raisins. I adored that treat, especially if it was left to stand for a little while, so the raisins started to absorb the apple juice and become tender. And that flavour combination has remained one of my dearest ones.
Apples are indeed a dessert classic, whether used in the form of the humble apple sauce or to make beautiful rose decorations, they are dear and wonderful in every way. However, other than apple sauce, they are fantastic when added simply grated to a cake batter.
Days are getting shorter, and few things are as indulging as enjoying an early evening with a slice of homemade cake and a cup of tea. And this little cake is one of my late summer and early autumn staples, full of apples, spices, and toasted walnuts. Supremely soft, and glazed in dark chocolate, it is divine with coffee or tea.

For the cake
100 grams plain flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
100 grams toasted walnuts, ground
120 grams grated apple, about one medium apple
100 grams light brown sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
240 millilitres tepid water
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the syrup
100 millilitres water
80 grams granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the glaze
150 grams dark chocolate (75%)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Grate a the apple directly into the mixing bowl, so all the juice is saved, add in the sugar, salt, vinegar, and the vanilla, and mix very well. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and baking soda, add in the ground walnuts, and mix briefly. Finally, pour in the water, and mix until just combined. Prepare a square baking tin (20x20 cm) by lining it with baking parchment, transfer the batter, and bake immediately, in a nicely preheated oven, at 200˚C, for about 20-25 minutes. The cake should spring back when lightly touched, and a toothpick inserted into the very centre should come out clean.
While the cake is baking, make the vanilla syrup. Place the sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in the water and the vanilla, and place it over high heat. Bring to a boil, and let it cook for 3 minutes, so the sugar dissolves nicely and the syrup becomes slightly thickened.
Remove it from the heat and reserve. Remove the baked cake from the oven, quickly poke it with a skewer or a toothpick, and immediately start pouring the hot syrup over the hot cake, spoonful by spoonful, until all of the syrup is used up. Move the pan carefully so the syrup is evenly distributed. Let the cake cool down to room temperature, and then place it into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Just before serving, melt together the dark chocolate and the vegetable oil, either over a double boiler or in the microwave, and let it cool down slightly. Slice the cake into individual servings, and glaze each of them generously. Sprinkle with additional walnuts, if desired, and serve with strong coffee. Yields 9 large servings.

Friday, September 08, 2023


Oh, the joys of a good chocolate cake. Soft and fudgy, with plenty of flavourful filling, this is a wonderful everyday cake, simply perfect for a sweet treat.
I am a great fan of moderately sweet desserts, and this cake is just like that; with chocolate stout layers and a luxurious white chocolate and walnut buttercream. And the one thing I love about this type of filling is how much it is reminiscent of ice cream, especially when nicely chilled. It truly melts on every bite. The addition of stout makes the deep chocolate flavour even more prominent, making this cake a wonderful choice for many occasions.
Do keep in mind that you can most definitely taste the beer in the cake layers, so choose the occasion wisely, as many little ones do not enjoy the flavour that much. Whenever you choose to make it, serve it very well chilled, or even placed in the freezer for 30 minutes before serving, and it will be like a perfect ice cream bar in a cake form.

For the stout chocolate layers
225 grams plain flour
30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 levelled teaspoon baking soda
100 grams granulated sugar
100 grams light brown sugar
300 millilitres stout beer
60 millilitres oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon vinegar
For the white chocolate walnut filling
150 grams vegan block butter, at room temperature
200 grams icing sugar, sifted
100 grams vegan white chocolate
150 grams ground toasted walnuts

Start by making the soft chocolate stout cakes. Take a large bowl, and sift in the flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, and the baking soda, and whisk well. Add in both types of sugar, and whisk very well again. Make a well in the centre and pour in the beer, oil, vanilla, and the vinegar, and mix gently until the batter comes together. No need to mix it for long, it will blend very easily.
Prepare two small round cake pans (15 cm) by lining them with baking parchment, on bottom and sides. Divide the batter into two equal parts by weight, and bake immediately, in a well preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 20-25 minutes. Check them for doneness early on, so they stay moist and soft. Remove them from the oven once baked, and let them cool in the pans completely.
To make the filling, start by grinding the walnuts as finely as you prefer, only do not let it turn into walnut butter, as that will soften the filling too much. Melt the white chocolate, and set it aside to cool down. Place the softened butter into a large bowl, and whip it with an electric mixer on high until light and fluffy, for about 2-3 minutes. Add in the melted and cooled white chocolate, and whip until blended. Sift in the icing sugar and add in the walnuts, and whip for at least 3-5 minutes more, until it is light and airy. Place the filling into the refrigerator to set.
When everything is cool, proceed to assemble the cake.
Level the cakes, if necessary, and divide the filling into two parts, making sure one is larger. Place the first cake onto the serving platter, top it with the larger portion of the filling, and place the other cake on top. Spread the remaining filling on the top and the sides of the cake, and place it into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Serve with strong coffee. Yields 16 servings.

Friday, September 01, 2023


Few desserts are as amazing as piping hot doughnuts. Maybe because I adore sweet dough desserts, maybe because they truly are wonderful, but that is how I see them.
Over the years, I have made the change from frying to baking them, and that has been a fantastic decision. Much quicker to make, and a lot easier to work with, as they can be filled with various firm fillings even before baking.
And if you know me, you know my love of chocolate and apricot desserts. Sachertorte is truly a timeless combination, and rightfully so, and these beauties embody that perfect classic flavour pairing.
Sweet enriched chocolate dough, tangy apricot jam filling, and a rich chocolate glaze. It simply does not get any better than that.
On a final note, if you are a dark chocolate lover, feel free to glaze them entirely in dark chocolate, they will be marvellous. However, if serving these to the little ones, do add a bit of vegan milk chocolate, as they tend to prefer sweeter glazes.

425 grams plain flour
15 grams non-dairy milk powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
275 millilitres warm water, divided
40 millilitres vegetable oil
25 grams fresh yeast
35 grams granulated sugar
15 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
120 grams apricot jam
50 grams dark chocolate (85% cocoa solids)
100 grams vegan milk chocolate

Sift the cocoa powder into a small bowl, pour in three tablespoons of boiling water, one tablespoon of oil, and the vanilla, and mix well until a smooth paste forms. Set it aside. Take a medium bowl, crumble in the fresh yeast, add in the granulated sugar and rest of the warm water, mix well, and set it aside for about 10 minutes so the yeast can activate.
Sift the flour into a large bowl, add in the salt and the non-dairy milk powder, and blend well. Once everything is ready, make a little well in the centre of the flour, pour in the yeast, the rest of the oil, and mix with a wooden spoon until a very soft dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it by hand for about 5 minutes or so, until it becomes supple and smooth. If it is sticking too much to your hands or the surface, feel free to add a bit more flour, so it is manageable. Place the kneaded dough into a large bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it rise for about an hour, in a warm spot.
Take the risen dough out of the bowl and knead it gently, and then divide it into ten equal parts. This is best done by weight, but approximation works as well. Shape each part into a smooth roll, arrange them on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment, cover them with a clean cloth, and let them rest and rise for about 30 minutes.
Generously mist them with cold water just before baking, and bake in a nicely preheated oven, at 200˚C, for about 15-18 minutes, or until evenly browned and almost crispy on the bottom. While they are cooling, melt the chocolate over very low heat and set it aside. Let them cool just enough to be handled, and fill them with apricot jam using a bag fitted with a narrow metal piping nozzle. Glaze them generously and serve as soon as the glaze sets. Yields 10 doughnuts. © TINA VESIĆ 2023