Friday, October 29, 2021


I grew up thinking that sheet cakes were the ones you can have as an everyday treat, and layer cakes were reserved only for special occasions. And that is, I do have to admit, a belief I had for an incredibly long time. Even after I had started my baking journey, I still held onto that principle; that you have to wait for a special time, special moment, special occasion, to make a layer cake. You simply have to, there is no other way; or so I thought.
And at one point, my perspective changed.
As I grew up, as I matured, I realised that I can bake a layer cake anytime I want. Sifting, blending, waiting for the cake to be baked, torting, filling, frosting; those are the things that bring me tremendous happiness, and so the layer cakes have gone from being daunting, to being pure joy, in every sense of that word.
This mini cake is an absolute delight to make and serve, especially due to its small size, as it looks adorable when presented. Full of pumpkin purée, spices, chocolate, and plant double cream, it is a definite favourite for the autumn season.
Depending on the variety of pumpkin you use, the colour of the baked cake layers may vary. I find them beautiful just as they are, although somewhat lighter in colour, but if you want a more dramatic, contrasting effect, add a few drops of orange food colouring, and a single drop of brown, to get that traditional shade of deep pumpkin orange.
On a final note, if you like your chocolate a tad less bitter, use a 60% or 70% bar instead of the 90% bar that I used. Do keep in mind that the filling will be slightly softer, but it will not take away from the beauty or the overall flavour of the cake.

For the soft pumpkin cake layers
200 grams plain flour
200 grams light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
small pinch of cloves
small pinch of salt
200 grams pumpkin purée
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
75 millilitres vegetable oil
120 millilitres warm water
For the dark chocolate ganache filling
100 grams extra dark chocolate (90% cocoa)
100 grams dark chocolate (50% cocoa)
250 millilitres plant double cream
For the whipped frosting
150 grams dark chocolate (50% cocoa), divided
100 millilitres plant double cream

To make the cake, take a large bowl and sift in the plain flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. Add in the sugar and mix very well. Line three small (12 cm) round pans with baking parchment, and set it aside. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients; add in the warm water, oil, vanilla, and the pumpkin purée, and whisk until just combined.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, and immediately bake in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 12-15 minutes, or until done. Because every oven is different, check them with a toothpick even before the time is up, making sure they stay soft and moist, and not dry. Without removing them from the pan, as they will be too soft, let them cool down to room temperature.
As the cakes are cooling, prepare the ganache. Chop up both types of chocolate and bring the double cream almost to a boil, then pour it over the chocolate and set it aside for a moment, so it starts to melt. Mix the ganache vigorously with a spatula until everything is melted; and then let it cool down to room temperature, yet still spreadable.

Remove the cake layers from the pans, level them, and place the first one on the cake platter. Be very careful with them, because they will be soft and 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 half of the filling over the cake, level it gently, and place another cake layer on top. Repeat this one again, top with the final layer, cover the top with cling film, and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
The next day, melt together the plant double cream with 100 grams of the dark chocolate, either over low heat or in the microwave. Let it cool down to room temperature, and then place it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, so it can be whipped up. Once the frosting is ready, whip it until stiff peaks form. Separately melt the remaining dark chocolate. Take the chilled cake out of the refrigerator, frost the top and sides, and glaze it with the melted chocolate. If desired, decorate the top further with the whipped frosting. Place the cake back into the refrigerator for about an hour or so. Serve well chilled. Yields 10 servings. © Tina Vesić 2021