Friday, March 19, 2021


Cakes that can be made while another meal is bubbling away on the stove have always had my heart. I firmly believe that everyday cakes should not be overly complicated or take forever to be assembled. There is such an endearing notion behind effortless cakes that are modest and hearty.
When it comes to cake making, I am quite a simple person - thin cake layers, scrumptious filling, and not too much frosting. The balance is what makes a cake good. The texture plays a significant part, as well, which is why I prefer to keep my cakes soft and melty on each bite.
This beauty is a great example of a lavish everyday cake that is simple, rewarding, and abundant. Sticky and soft chocolate cake, tangy and flavourful orange filling, and a thin layer of cream, to adorn it all. If desired, a few mandarin segments can be arranged on the top, for a little additional burst of flavour once the cake is served.

For the chocolate cake layers
120 grams plain flour
25 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
100 grams granulated sugar
100 grams Demerara sugar
60 millilitres vegetable oil
5 millilitres apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
250 millilitres boiling water
¾ teaspoon instant espresso powder
For the orange cream filling
450 millilitres orange juice
100 grams granulated sugar
80 grams cornflour
120 grams vegan block butter, diced
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
2 drops vegan orange food colouring, optional
For the decoration
120 millilitres vegan double cream
15 grams icing sugar, sifted
10 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon orange blossom water
100 grams mandarin segments, optional

Start by making the orange cream filling, as it needs time to cool down. Pour the orange juice into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sift in the cornflour, and tip in the granulated sugar. Whisk well, place the pan over medium-high heat, and let it slowly heat up. As soon as it starts to steam, start whisking. Let it come to a boil, and cook for about 2 minutes, until it starts resembling a smooth, glossy pudding. Remove from the heat and let it cool for a minute or two. Add in the butter, one piece at a time, whisking constantly, until incorporated. Blend in vanilla and the orange blossom water, cover the top with cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature.
While the filling is cooling down, make the cake layers. Take a large bowl, and sift in the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Add in the salt, and mix very well. Add in both types of sugar, and mix well again. This will ensure that all of the flour is aerated enough for the layers to be light and soft. Bring the water to a rolling boil, remove from heat, and add in the coffee. Briefly mix, and set it aside for just a few moments. Line four small round baking pans (15 cm) with baking parchment, and set them aside.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients; add in the oil, vanilla, and the vinegar, and then the hot water. Whisk until incorporated and divide the batter between the prepared pans. This is best done by weight. Immediately bake the cakes in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 8-10 minutes, or until done. Check the cakes for doneness with a toothpick, making sure they do not overbake. Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then turn them onto a large wire rack and let them cool down to room temperature.
When the filling is cool to the touch, mix it with an electric mixer on high, until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add in the food colouring, if using, and mix for a minute or two more, to make the filling lighter and easier to spread. When everything is ready, start assembling the cake.
Level the cake layers if needed, and place the first one on the cake platter. Be additionally careful with them, because they will be quite soft and perhaps lightly sticky. Place a cake ring around the first layer, line it with a tall sheet of acetate, and tighten the ring so it stays in place. Add a third of the filling over the cake, level it gently, and place another cake layer on top. Continue stacking the cake in this fashion, until all of the layers and filling are used up. Cover the top with cling film, and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
When the cake is ready, whip the vegan double cream with the cocoa powder, icing sugar, and the orange blossom water. Spread it evenly all over the cake, top with mandarin segments, if desired, and serve. Yields 20 servings. © TINA VESIĆ 2021