Friday, June 02, 2023


No-bake cheesecakes, as well as no-bake cakes in general, are incredibly versatile and forgiving, and what is even more important, delicious and quite simple to prepare. They also freeze very nicely, and can even be served as ice cream cakes, as well. But to be frank, if you ask me, any cake can be an ice cream cake.
Three lovely layers of Biscoff cookies, vegan cream cheese, and chocolate. Simply marvellous with tea or coffee. And although I made two distinctive layers in the filling, you do not have to; if you wish, you can simply mix and fold everything together, for a beautiful, marbled look.
On a final note, do be careful when folding and whipping; if you overmix, the cheesecake can become somewhat dry and crumbly, due to the cream being overwhipped. Other than that, it is a simple, wholesome little cake, perfect for late spring and early summer gatherings.

For the cheesecake base
100 grams Biscoff cookies, finely ground or crushed
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
50 grams vegan block butter, melted
50 millilitres soy milk, cold
For the Biscoff cheesecake filling
200 grams firm vegan cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
50 grams icing sugar, sifted
250 millilitres plant double cream
100 grams Biscoff cookies, finely ground or crushed
50 grams dark chocolate (75%), grated or finely chopped
For the decoration
50 grams dark chocolate (75%)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Place the cookie crumbs and the sugar in a medium bowl, and set aside. Melt the vegan block butter over medium-high heat, pour it over the cookie crumbs, add in the milk and the vanilla, and mix together until a soft dough forms. Even if it is slightly sticky, it will be fine. Place a small (15 cm) cake ring on a serving plate, close it in place, and press the cookie dough into the bottom, forming a base. Level it as much as you can and want, and set it aside.

Place the vegan cream cheese into a medium bowl, add in the vanilla and the icing sugar, and mix it gently with a spatula or a whisk, until blended. In another large bowl, whip the plant double cream until soft peaks form. Add in the cream cheese blend and the cookie crumbs, and fold it through until blended. Divide the filling into two parts, and add the chocolate into one of them.
Spread the chocolate layer over the base of the cheesecake, and spread the plain cheesecake batter over that. Level the top, and place the platter into the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.
Before serving, melt together the chocolate and the oil over medium heat, making sure it is well blended, so oil does not show once cooled. Take the cheesecake out of the refrigerator, remove the ring, and glaze the top, as desired. Serve immediately, before the chocolate glaze sets. Yields 12 servings.

Friday, May 26, 2023


There is something so beautiful in creating a cake that is completely to your liking. The joy and elation in every step of the process, the love for the craft, love for working with different types of dough and batters, and love for decorating, all combined in one little bundle.
Even though I was convinced my baking journey would take me in a different direction, cakes and other types of confection have truly stolen my heart.
And if there is one thing I love, it's soft cakes. Cakes that melt on every bite, blurring the lines between layers and fillings. And that is why I make my cakes just like that. Soft layers, smooth fillings, and plenty of coffee.
When it comes to cakes, I find nothing satisfying in a dry cake, hence why I put such an emphasis on baking times and checking on cakes earlier than indicated in the recipe. Every oven is different, and it is much better to check early than to have to start again.
This little beauty is a wonderful blend of strong coffee, dandelion honey, and toasted walnuts. Although a typically colder weather flavour combination, it is still simply perfect for any brunch or celebration, especially with a glass of coffee liqueur.

For the soft honey cake layers
265 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
250 grams dandelion honey
75 millilitres vegetable oil
3 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
300 millilitres warm water
For the coffee walnut filling
600 millilitres soy milk
120 grams cornflour
120 grams light brown sugar
3 teaspoons instant coffee granules
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
150 grams vegan block butter
150 grams toasted ground walnuts

Start by making the walnut filling, as it needs a bit of time to cool down. Pour the cold soy milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the cornflour, sugar, and coffee granules, and whisk until nicely blended. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and let it heat up slowly. As soon as it starts to steam, start whisking.
Once it comes to a boil, cook it, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Remove it from the heat, transfer it to a large bowl, and add in the vanilla and the vegan butter, one piece at a time, whisking constantly. If you wish, you can use an immersion blender, as well. When the filling is nice and blended, cover the top with a piece of cling film or baking parchment and let the filling cool down to room temperature.
To make the cake layers, take a large bowl and pour in the dandelion honey, oil, vanilla, vinegar, and warm water, and whisk them vigorously until combined. Set the bowl aside, and prepare a round cake pan (20 cm in diameter) by lining it with baking parchment; bottom and sides. Sift the plain flour and the baking soda into the honey mixture, and whisk everything together until just blended.

As soon as the batter is ready, pour it into the prepared pan, tap them a few times on the counter to pop any air bubbles, and bake immediately in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for 15-18 minutes, checking for doneness early on. As soon as a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, the cake is done. Remove it from the oven and let it cool down in the pan.
Once everything is cool to the touch and ready, proceed to assemble the cake. Level the cake, if necessary, and slice it into three thin layers. Set them aside. Transfer the filling into a large bowl, and blend it with an electric mixer on high until completely smooth. Make sure to scrape the bottom and side of the bowl and blend until there are no clumps of custard visible. Add in the toasted ground walnuts, and blend again. Once done, divide the filling into three equal parts, and reserve one-third for the decoration.
Place the first cake layer on the serving platter and carefully spread on the filling. It does not need a cake ring, as the filling is firm enough on its own. Top with another layer, add more filling, and repeat until all the cake layers are used. Cover the entire cake in the reserved filling, and place it into the refrigerator for at least eight hours. Yields 16 rich servings.

Friday, May 19, 2023


Custard fillings might actually be my favourite type for any cake. Regardless of the layers themselves, there is something so satisfying and comforting in a good custard filling. I have spent a long time trying to refine it, and I am glad I did; because it is its own class of comfort food to me, when it comes to desserts.
I love using brownies as a cake base, especially with denser custard fillings, because I feel those textures match wonderfully. And this is a gorgeous fudge chocolate espresso brownie base, topped with smooth peppermint vanilla filling, and a rich topping of dark chocolate ganache. Such a simple, yet utterly delicious everyday little cake.
I also love using fresh mint in my desserts, however, if you do not have fresh mint or you want even more of the flavour, feel free to use a drop of two of clear peppermint extract. Make sure you taste as you add the flavouring, just so it doesn’t overpower the filling.
Do make sure you take the torte out of the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes prior to serving, as it is best served that way. And as always, with strong coffee and in good company.

For the mocha brownie base
100 grams plain flour
20 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
100 grams dark chocolate (80%)
100 millilitres boiling water
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
150 grams vegan vanilla yoghurt
100 grams dark brown sugar
40 millilitres vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
For the peppermint custard filling
450 millilitres soy milk
15-20 fresh mint leaves
80 grams cornflour
100 grams granulated sugar
small pinch of turmeric
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
150 grams vegan block butter, diced
For the rich chocolate topping
100 grams dark chocolate (75%)
75 millilitres plant-based double cream

To make the custard filling, pour the majority of the soy milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the mint leaves, and let the milk come to a simmer. As soon as it starts to show wisps of steam, remove it from the heat, cover it well, and let it steep for at least 20 minutes, or until cool.
Once the milk has a wonderfully minty aroma, strain it, and return it to the stove, over medium heat. While waiting for the milk to come to a boil, whisk the reserved milk with the cornflour, sugar, turmeric, and vanilla; until blended and smooth. Once the milk comes to a boil, pour in the cornflour mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens and resembles a custard, about 2 minutes.
Remove it from the heat, transfer it to a large bowl, and add in the vegan butter, one piece at a time, whisking constantly. When the filling is nice and blended, cover the top with cling film or a piece of baking parchment, and let it cool down to room temperature.

To make the coffee brownie base, melt the dark chocolate over low heat or in the microwave, and set it aside to cool slightly. Pour boiling water over the instant espresso granules, briefly stir, and let it cool down. Take a large bowl, add in the vegan yoghurt, oil, sugar, and the vanilla bean paste, and whisk very well. Add in the cooled coffee, as well as sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, and once again, mix briefly. Finally, add in the melted and cooled chocolate, and stir until only combined.
Line the bottom and sides of a small round baking pan (15 cm) with baking parchment, pour in the batter, and immediately bake in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 20 minutes. Make sure you check the brownies with a toothpick early on, to make sure they are fudgy, and not overbaked. Take them out of the oven, and let them cool in the pan.
Once the brownies are cool to the touch, and the custard is ready, whisk the cooled custard with an electric mixer on high until it becomes creamy, about a minute or two, so it is easier to spread. Place the brownie base gently onto the serving platter, close a cake ring around it, and add all of the custard on top. Level it nicely, and place it into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
To make the chocolate topping, melt together the chopped chocolate and the double cream, either over low heat or in the microwave, and let it cool down for a few moments. Take the torte out of the refrigerator, glaze it quickly, tap the platter so it settles nicely, and return it to chill for at least 8 hours. Yields 12 servings.

Friday, May 12, 2023


The joy of savouring a cake, to me as a baker, includes each and every step; from blending the batter, to carefully filling and frosting the cake, to lovingly serving each slice. The beauty is in the entire process.
And at times, all one needs is a slice of homemade chocolate cake. Simple, unadorned, yet utterly soft, flavourful, and rich. Just like every cake should be.
To me, the combination of apricot and chocolate is a seldom-dethroned classic when it comes to desserts. Especially with a homemade apricot jam, still slightly warm and even a tad soft.
If they are not in season, jam can also be made with tinned apricots, of course, only omitting any additional sugar. Simply blended into a fine purée, and cooked until thick and fragrant, they pair marvellously with the chocolate in every way.

For the soft chocolate cake layers
250 grams plain flour
40 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons instant espresso powder
200 grams granulated sugar
100 grams light brown sugar
400 millilitres boiling water
80 millilitres vegetable oil
20 millilitres dark rum
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
For the apricot jam
350 grams apricots, fresh or frozen, stones removed
100 grams granulated sugar
30 millilitres unfined Riesling
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the chocolate mousse
150 grams dark chocolate (75%)
50 grams extra dark chocolate (95%)
500 millilitres plant-based double cream
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
small pinch of salt

Start by making the chocolate mousse filling, as it needs a bit of time to chill and set before filling the cake. Chop up the chocolate finely, add it to a heavy bottomed saucepan, add in the plant cream, salt, and the vanilla, and place over medium heat. Gently stir with a spatula as it melts, making sure it does not come to a boil. It will take some time to fully blend, but that is normal. This can also be done in a double boiler or in the microwave, in increments. Once everything is smooth and combined, remove it from the heat, snugly cover with cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature. As soon as it does cool, transfer it to the refrigerator for 5-6 hours.
Next, make the small batch apricot jam. Blend the apricots into a fine, smooth purée, add them to a heavy bottomed saucepan, and add in the sugar. Place the saucepan over medium heat and let the mixture come to a simmer. As soon as it starts simmering, add in the wine, and start stirring. Because it is such a small batch, it really needs attentiveness while it cooks. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until it reduces by about half. After about 15 minutes of cooking, it should be done. It can be cooked even further, and the jam will only get thicker and more intense in colour. Once you are happy with the consistency of the jam, remove it from the heat, and let it cool down.

To make the soft chocolate cake, take a very large bowl and sift in the plain flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the sugars and mix very well. Line a rectangular cake pan (20x30 cm) with baking parchment, bottom and sides, and set it aside. Make a well in the very centre of the dry ingredients; pour in the water, oil, vanilla, rum, and the vinegar, and whisk until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, tap it lightly on the work surface, and bake immediately in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 18-20 minutes, or until done. As every over bakes differently, do check it with a toothpick, making sure it stays fudgy, soft, and not dry. Let it cool in the pan completely.
Once everything is ready, proceed to assemble the cake. Level the cake and trim the sides, if necessary, and slice it in half crosswise and lengthwise, to create four thin rectangular layers. Set them aside for the time being.
Take the chocolate filling out of the refrigerator, and whip it into a mousse, using an electric mixer on the highest setting. Whip only until firm peaks start to form, so it does not split. If desired, reserve a few tablespoons of the mousse for the decoration, and divide the rest into three equal parts. Slightly heat up the jam so it is easier to spread.
Place the first cake layer on the serving platter, place a cake form around it, line it with a tall sheet of acetate, and close it in place.
Spread a third of the apricot jam over the cake layer, and wait so it starts to soak into it, and then spread a third of the chocolate mousse on top. Be gentle with it, so it does not deflate. Repeat this until all the ingredients are used up, and the cake is topped with the final cake layer. If you have some jam leftover, spread it over the last layer, if not, it will still be fine.
Place the cake into the refrigerator for at least eight hours or overnight. When ready, remove the cake form and the acetate, decorate with the reserved mousse, and slice it into thin slices. Serve with strong coffee. Yields 12 servings.

Friday, May 05, 2023


It really isn’t a secret how much I love jam making. Especially this early into the fruit season, with plenty of ruby red berries.
Because jams are so versatile and quite rewarding in more ways than one, when cooked and stored properly, they are an irreplaceable part of sweet breakfasts, oatmeal toppings, or even cake fillings. To me, there is no fruit cake that does not benefit from a large spoonful of homemade jam, whether it's swirled through the filling or added directly into the batter.
Adding lemon to any jam will not only brighten the flavour, but it will help set the jam nicely, too. However, adding lemon and vanilla, as well as a hint of Pinot Noir and its gorgeous fruity notes, truly transforms this jam into a treat resembling candy.
Do keep in mind that while it is a jam, the tangy lemon flavour does come through, in that sweet, almost puckering way. If you feel you would prefer it will less of a lemon flavour, choose smaller lemons, and that should work wonderfully.

1 kilogram ripe organic strawberries
2 medium organic lemons
300 grams light brown sugar
¼ vanilla bean
1-2 teaspoons unfined Pinot Noir, to taste

Wash well and zest half of one of the lemons, and peel and segment both of them. Wash and clean the strawberries, making sure the bruised ones are removed, and then dice them into a large, heavy-bottomed pot.
Add in the lemon segments and the zest, and press everything gently with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle in the light brown sugar, shake the pot so everything settles nicely, and leave them to macerate for about an hour.
Carefully scrape the vanilla bean and do not discard it. Once the fruit has released plenty of liquid, place the pot over medium high heat, add in the vanilla seeds and the pod, and let everything slowly come to a boil. Let the jam cook, stirring often, for about 30 minutes or so, or to your desire thickness. The fruit can also be mashed lightly with a wooden spoon, although both strawberries and the citrus segments are soft and will break down easily.
Check if the jam has reached its setting point either with a thermometer (it should read 105°C), or by using the saucer test. Take a chilled saucer or a small plate, add a few drops of the jam and let them stand for a minute. When the saucer is tilted, and the jam stays in place, it is ready. If not, if it is still runny, or you prefer a slightly thicker jam, cook for 5 more minutes, and test again.
Remove the pot from the heat, let it cool down a tad, remove and discard the vanilla pod, add in the wine, mix well, and fill the prepared and sterilised jars. Yields 500 grams of jam.