Friday, December 14, 2018


Growing up, I have always been fond of old-fashioned desserts. Minimal in decoration, often modest in ingredients, but always more delicious than any other dessert you could find in shops. As most old-fashioned desserts, this one, too, requires only two bowls and a wire whisk. Plenty of apricot and orange preserves keep this lovely cake sticky and delicious, and the coarsely ground hazelnuts give it additional texture.
Poppy seed has a long tradition of enriching many pastries, and it gives this cake such a unique, robust flavour. Not overly sweet, and not complicated to make, it is one of the quickest desserts you can include on your Christmas platter. Granted, it is not a cookie, but sliced into tiny cubes, maybe even lightly dusted with sparkling sugar, it should find its way to Christmas dessert trays. It will keep for days at room temperature, and get even more delicious as days pass. Serve it with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, and enjoy.

For the cake layers
250 grams granulated sugar
550 ml hot water
200 ml vegetable oil
350 grams plain flour
100 grams ground poppy seeds
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon dark rum
½ teaspoon orange blossom water
For the filling and frosting
200 grams apricot jam
50 grams orange marmalade
100 grams coarsely ground hazelnuts
100 grams vegan white chocolate, grated

Add the sugar into a large bowl, pour in the hot water, mix very briefly, and set it aside for about 10 minutes, so the sugar starts to melt slowly. Add in the oil, along with the vanilla, rum, and orange blossom water, and mix very well. Sift in the plain flour and the baking powder, and whisk until well-blended. Finally, add in the ground poppy seeds, and mix well again.
Take a large baking sheet (36x36 cm), line it with baking parchment, and pour in the batter. It will level itself out for the most part, but do help it a bit by gently shaking the baking sheet so the batter settles evenly. Bake, in a preheated oven, at 200°C (400°F), for about 25 minutes. Once a toothpick inserted in the very centre of the cake comes out clean, the cake is done. Remove it from the oven, at let it cool for about 15 minutes on the baking sheet.
For the filling, add the apricot jam and the orange marmalade into a medium bowl, and mix them very well. If your jams are very stiff, it may help to heat them up just a bit, to help them mix and spread easier. Once mixed, add in the ground hazelnuts, and the white chocolate, and mix thoroughly.
Take a sharp knife and very carefully cut off the edges of the baked cake, so you are left with a smaller, but still square, cake layer; and then carefully slice it in half vertically. This will give you two identical layers, perfect for sandwiching with the tangy filling. Place one of the layers on a serving platter, and generously cover it with one half of the jam and hazelnut filling. Top with the other layer, and repeat the process with the filling.
The cake is best kept in a cool spot, but it does not have to be refrigerated. Moreover, I would actually suggest not refrigerating it, as it can dry out the exposed edges of the cake. Keeping it at room temperature, just under a glass cake dome will be perfect. Slice into fairly small slices, and serve with strong coffee or tea. Yields 12-16 servings.

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